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New Mexico State University

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New Mexico State University gets Kellogg grant to promote higher education for Hispanic youth

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has awarded a $98,700 planning grant to New Mexico State University to continue its work to improve higher education opportunities for Hispanic youth.

NMSU is one of 18 colleges and universities to receive planning grants in the first phase of the Kellogg Foundation's six-year, $28.7 million ENLACE (Engaging Latino Communities for Education) initiative.

Juan N. Franco, NMSU vice president for administration, said the ENLACE program will enable the university to form partnerships with school districts and community and business organizations "to develop innovative ways of addressing critical issues, such as the high drop-out rate among Hispanic students in the public schools."

NMSU already has a number of collaborative programs aimed at Hispanic students, said Franco, who oversees the university's minority recruitment and retention efforts, but the ENLACE project provides an opportunity to accomplish more through a broad coalition.

NMSU's key partners in the ENLACE program include the Dona Ana Branch Community College; the Las Cruces, Gadsden and Hatch school districts; the Court Youth Center; the Colonias Development Council; and the Dona Ana Workforce Action Council.

Plans developed by this coalition during the coming year could lead to further Kellogg funding for implementation. The foundation will support eight to 10 coalitions with grants of up to $2 million each for the four-year period beginning in 2001.

"ENLACE will strengthen the educational pipeline, so that more Hispanic youth will enter and complete college," said Betty Overton-Adkins, the Kellogg Foundation's director of higher education programming. "And it can improve the performance of students who are already attending Hispanic-serving institutions."

About 39 percent of NMSU's 15,000 students are Hispanic. Hispanic enrollment in the three local school districts ranges from 64 percent to 90 percent. The average drop-out rate for Hispanic students at the middle school level, however, is about 15 percent and the high school drop-out average is about 18 percent.

The NMSU collaborators will identify problem areas in the "educational pipeline" and find ways to address them, said Tom Hoeksema, an NMSU faculty member who worked on the grant proposal as a consultant to the University Advancement office.

"We have determined, for instance, that a problem year for drop-outs among Hispanic students is the 9th grade," Hoeksema said. "We envision finding creative ways to deal with the drop-out issue, to provide the motivation for students to continue in school, to show them the benefits of a college education and to get them to the front door of a four-year college or university."

ENLACE is derived from the Spanish word enlazar, which means to link or to weave together. The Intercultural Development Research Association, an independent, non-profit organization based in San Antonio, is serving as the managing partner for the initiative.

The 18 colleges and universities that received ENLACE planning grants were selected from more than 100 proposals.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation was established in 1930 "to help people help themselves through the practical application of knowledge and resources to improve their quality of life and that of future generations."

Karl Hill
Jan. 21, 2000