Frank Alvarez, president and chief executive officer of the San Francisco-based Hispanic Scholarship Fund, will discuss efforts to help Hispanics attend college in a 7 p.m. lecture Wednesday, April 27, in the auditorium of Schulze Hall on the downtown Minneapolis campus of the University of St. Thomas.
The presentation, free and open to the public, is the 14th annual Julian Parker Lecture sponsored by the university’s School of Education. A reception precedes the lecture at 6 p.m.
The program is co-sponsored by Target Corp.
“As Hispanic Americans watch the batches of data flow out from the U.S. Census Bureau, we have both a sense of pride and anxiety,” Alvarez wrote in a recent column. “Pride in our contributions to American society and anxiety about the corresponding challenges we face, especially in the area of higher education.”
In Minnesota, more Hispanic students than ever are approaching their college years. While the past decade has seen a slight decrease in the state’s overall K-12 enrollment, the number of Hispanic students has increased 106 percent. In the 2000-2001 school year, there were 28,397 Hispanics in Minnesota’s K-12 public schools, or 3.4 percent of the 845,040 total enrollment. This year, the state’s K-12 public schools enroll 58,091 Hispanic students, or 6.9 percent of the 837,640 total enrollment.
The Hispanic Scholarship Fund is the nation’s leading Latino organization supporting Hispanic higher education and it has awarded nearly $300 million in scholarships. One of the organization’s programs, Generation First Degree, is focused on getting Latinos and Latinas to earn the family’s first college degree.
Alvarez was the first in his family to attend college. He received a two-year degree from East Los Angeles College, a bachelor’s in business from Loyola Marymount University and a master’s in public health from the University of California, Berkeley. He served as a health care executive for more than 30 years before joining the Hispanic Scholarship Fund in 2007.
The Julian Parker Lecture Series honors the former longtime chair of the Education Department and dean of the graduate school at Xavier University in New Orleans. Parker was a national leader on urban education and race relations. In the 1960s, he was instrumental in dealing with issues of race and diversity when he worked at St. Thomas in an exchange program between the national historically African-American colleges and private colleges in Minnesota.
St. Thomas’ efforts to increase academic achievement among Hispanics include its Hispanic Pre-College Project the university launched in the 1980s. The program later evolved into Academia Cesar Chavez School, a K-6 charter school founded 10 years ago on St. Paul’s East Side.
A major goal of the university’s $500 million Opening Doors capital campaign is to create a pool of scholarship and financial-aid resources for students of diverse backgrounds.
For more information about the April 27 lecture contact David Hamm at St. Thomas’ School of Education, (651) 962-4441.