Wednesday, December 7, 2011

College Access & Success 101 with McDonald’s – vital information for high-need communities

Earlier this year, LNESC, McDonald’s USA, and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) partnered to launch a national initiative to provide greater access to higher education for Latino students in seven cities across the U.S. (Los Angeles, Chicago, El Paso, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Miami). The program called Steps for Success, consisted of a full day of bilingual hands-on specialized instruction and college preparation workshops for high school students and their parents and resulted in packed auditoriums and gyms.

LNESC was excited to partner with McDonald’s to take this program to the next level by providing additional support in the seven cities through the College Access & Success 101 program, which consisted of open lab hours and workshops on critical college access topics like FAFSA completion, college application procedures, and financial aid assistance. The central idea was to continue to support the communities where Steps for Success workshops were held – this program innovation resulted in additional services for high-need parents and students across the country. 

I was fortunate to attend one of the Steps for Success workshops in Philadelphia and was blown away by the impact the presenters had on students and parents. Working at the national level, I often experience the education gap that exists in the Latino community as mere numbers on a screen (for instance, only 11.4 percent of Hispanics are enrolled in college). However, as I sat in on several sessions I heard students ask what I thought were basic questions like, “What’s a personal statement?” or “What is the FAFSA for?.” It was clear that these workshops were essential to getting these young people into college and to increasing Latino college enrollment beyond that 11.4 percent. 

Parents and students flip through college guidebooks at the Philadelphia workshop

Community Impact

The College Access & Success 101 workshops have already proven to be a hit in the community. “They gave a lot of information for Hispanic parents, which we usually do not get,” said a parent who attended the October 29 workshop in Houston. Another parent said the workshop eased her doubts, and plans to attend more College Access workshops in the future. “I wanted clear recommendations, and we will receive more help with finding schools and scholarships in the next classes.”

Students also had great things to say about the workshops as well. “What I liked about the program was that it gave me plenty of information about what I need to do to get accepted to a college,” said a student in Philadelphia. “The program was very good and interesting.”

Jessica Rivera, LNESC director in Philadelphia, explained that workshops were useful because they incorporated practical information and involved both parents and students. “During the college application workshop parents learned about the application process. We used the Temple University application in order for parents and students to see what it looked like and how they were to fill it out.  Every parent and student received a copy of the application,” said Ms. Rivera. “It is great to see how parents are committed to learning how they can help and support their children by attending these workshops.”  

Students listen attentively at El Paso workshop 

Not Just for Burgers...

College Access & Success 101 would not have been possible without the dedication and support of McDonald’s, who has been a true believer in LNESC’s mission to provide innovative educational opportunities for the Hispanic community. From corporate headquarters to local owner/operators, McDonald’s has been an invaluable partner for getting college access information to the high-need communities that LNESC serves.

For the students and parents that attended a College Access & Success 101 workshop, McDonald’s is about more than burgers, it’s about educational opportunity. 

Interested in attending a College Access & Success 101 Workshop or just want to know more about LNESC programs near you? Visit our website at

Jason Resendez
LNESC Director Corporate Relations & Development 

with help from Annie Downs, LNESC Fellow

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Richard Roybal Discusses His Role As an 'Army Advocate'

LNESC's own Executive Director, Richard Roybal, recently spoke with Forward March!, the US Army's newsletter with the mission of "strengthening our Hispanic communities and our soldiers." He discussed his role as an 'Army Advocate' and how LNESC and the Army help the Latino community, both individually and as a team.

Q: What motivates you to be an Advocate for the Army?
The Army strives to provide students from every background, regardless of race or economic circumstance, access to quality educational and professional opportunities, and this is something LNESC is wholeheartedly in favor of. With the persistence of educational inequalities in our society, it’s essential that organizations like the Army work to close achievement gaps. LNESC works hand-in-hand with the Army and advocates providing opportunities for youth around the United States.

Q: What has been your most interesting or memorable assignment, interaction or task as an Army Advocate?
My most memorable moment working with the Army was helping to develop a video that brought together LNESC and Hispanic youth to promote high school graduation and college enrollment. It was an example of the Army utilizing innovative tactics to encourage youth to excel and exceed in high school. I’ve always been struck by how forward-thinking the Army is when it comes to promoting education.

Q: Why do you feel it is important for community leaders to support the Army?
It’s important for community leaders to support the Army because it provides a much-needed avenue to educational and professional development at a time when more and more students are in need of these opportunities.

Q: What is your professional role in your community?
First and foremost, I’m an education advocate. I work in my community and the communities where LNESC centers are located to ensure that every student who wants a quality education has access to top-notch programs, whether through LNESC or at their local schools. Second, I’m a voice in Washington D.C., where LNESC is headquartered, for the high-need communities we serve throughout the United States. I work to ensure that our national partners, like the Army, are aware of critical educational issues facing Latino youth, whether that be access to SAT preparation or financial aid counseling.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Washington Youth Leadership Seminar: Teenagers in Action

Every year, LNESC and LULAC bring top-notch Latino students from around the U.S. and Puerto Rico to connect them to the policy making process in Washington D.C. LNESC and LULAC arrange administration meetings, hill visits, media discussions, and advocacy trainings to expose students to the inner-workings of politics. WYLS imparts a sense of ownership over the American political system to students who often feel disengaged by connecting them to the policy-making process. While in D.C., students work on a policy position paper focused on an issue important to them. In the past students have focused on green jobs, healthcare, the economy and, in 2011, they focused on health. WYLS equips students with strategies to affect change on issues important to them in their communities, cultivating leaders for the future of the Latino community. 

WYLS participants on the way to the Senate.

The WYLS 2011 class was made up of 64 outstanding students from 14 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico; all students were pre-selected by LULAC’s grassroots network of councils. Students represented diverse backgrounds and ethnicities, but the majority were Latino and first-generation college-bound. 39 were female and 25 were male.

States represented included: Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, and Virginia.

For many students, it was the first time seeing the nation's Capital.
The Washington Youth Leadership Seminar was a unique learning experience for everyone involved. Working closely with the students, I was able to see first-hand what the program meant to them. Many had never been out of their home state, and the opportunity to meet youth from all over the country and see some of the most important and meaningful sights in our nation was exciting. The students were challenged to think about the issues facing their own communities as well as Latino communities throughout the country, and not only stepped up to the plate to engage with speakers, but also continued the conversation amongst themselves even after the panels were finished. They asked intelligent questions and clearly relished the opportunity to express themselves to people in positions of power. The Washington Youth Leadership Seminar gave students an unparalleled opportunity to learn what it means to be a leader at home, and what they can do to make a difference on a larger scale.

Students met with Hill staffers to learn about health-related issues affecting the Latino community.

The Washington Youth Leadership Seminar is a great way to learn more about local and national policies that affect the Latino community on a daily basis. Not only do youth get personal exposure to policy makers, they also have the opportunity to interact with their peers from around the country. I'm already looking forward to next year!

The WYLS Class of 2011

Annie Downs
LNESC Special Programs Fellow

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Our first post!

We're excited to kick off LNESC's first blog! LNESC's staff works tirelessly across the country to deliver quality educational services to high-need students from k-12th grade. We serve communities all around the U.S. - from east Los Angeles to Kansas City. We will use this blog to update and keep all of our stakeholders informed about our important work and the impact it's making in the lives of our students. Please feel free to reach out with any feedback or comments you might have on how we can do our jobs more effectively or if you want to help out! 
Jason Resendez
LNESC Director of Corporate Relations & Development