Three Latino students wearing caps and gowns and smilingFor Latinos in America, the educational landscape has changed immensely over the past two decades. According to Pew Research, the group’s high school dropout rate declined from 32 percent in 2000 to 12 percent in 2014. That same year, 35 percent of Hispanics ages 18 to 24 were enrolled in college, a 13-percentage-point increase since 1993.

Even so, young Latino college students are less likely than their white counterparts to enroll in a four-year college, less likely to be enrolled full-time, and less likely to complete a bachelor’s degree – all issues of concern for organizers of this month’s Latino Youth Education Summit.

A group of Latino college students look over paperwork.Wingate University is one of seven collaborating partners for the event, which is set for March 22 at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlotte. The Summit will offer three workshops: College and Career Readiness, Employment Preparedness, and Entrepreneurship. The goal is to help Latino families form strategies for their children as they finish high school.

“The summit will aim to serve at least 250 Latin American students and their parents,” says Lessly Moreno, a graduate assistant offering Latino outreach and support in Wingate University’s Office of Enrollment. Moreno is helping to coordinate the event’s college fair.

She invited all North Carolina private colleges and universities as well as Latin-American-welcoming public institutions to the fair and recruited Wingate’s Latino Club as volunteers to help with the day’s activities.

“Wingate University will also have a booth set up during the event, and this will be a great opportunity for the university admissions office to reach out to talented Latin American students in the Charlotte area,” Moreno says.

In addition to Wingate, other colleges expected to have a presence at the fair include Catawba College, Guilford College, Johnson C. Smith University and Cabarrus College of Health Sciences.

In addition to providing information about educational and professional opportunities for Latino students, Moreno says that the event aims to foster socioeconomic development among the Latino community and strengthen that community’s engagement with the educational system in North Carolina.

Research shows that most Latino families are passionate about education. More than 80 percent of those surveyed during last year’s election season cited education as a top concern.

Lead sponsors for the Latino Youth Education Summit are the Community Partnership and Family Engagement arm of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, the Association of Latino Professionals for America, the Latin American Coalition, the Latin American Women’s Association, the Mecklenburg PTA Council and the Latin American Chamber of Commerce.

March 14, 2017