Read Full Articles
November 25, 2012 by Jennifer Brandt
Hispanic Access Foundation takes action to help more Latinos get into college
With Latinos now making up nearly a quarter of the 18-and-under population in the country and projected to grow, the importance of promoting and expanding post-secondary opportunities for them has become a critical need. As part of this effort, Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF) has made education one of its four core priorities and will be participating in New Futuro’s College Prep Fair.
“Education is the key to building a better life. A strong foundation of learning can unlock doors to financial and personal success for Latinos,” said Maite Arce, HAF’s executive director. “Education is the critical centerpiece not only to the future of the Hispanic community but also to the country’s future.”
While Latinos aged 18 and under currently make up 23 percent of the country’s population, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that total to rise to 36 percent by 2020. As of 2010, only 13 percent of Hispanics held at least a bachelor’s degree, while 6.2 percent of full-time college students were Hispanic.
“The numbers tell us that more needs to be done to help Latinos gain access to higher-education opportunities,” said Arce. “Latinos want to go to college and parents place an extremely high value on education, but often times they lack the knowledge, resources or support to make it happen.”
Affordability is often one of the main barriers for Hispanics in attending or completing college. A Pew Research Center study found that 87 percent of Latinos identified lack of resources as a barrier to their higher education and career development.
As part of the College Prep Fair, HAF is providing workshops for parents and students on how to prepare for and finance higher education, including the use of financial aid, tax-free savings accounts and scholarships. Additionally, Arce is participating on the College Prep Fair’s panel discussion televised by Telemundo. In the exhibit hall, HAF has been providing laptop giveaways to those students who show their desire to go to college through HAF’s Facebook page.
This work has been an extension of HAF’s other work. In its tax education workshops, held throughout the county, HAF has helped parents and students get their financial documentation in order to apply for financial aid. The organization has also launched youth leadership development initiatives in Colorado.
“We need to make sure Hispanics understand how to navigate the university system,” said Arce. “They need the tools to tear down the roadblocks and continue on the college-degree path. If we don’t take action now, a vast segment of our country’s population will lack the education necessary to strengthen us as a whole.”
The next College Prep Fair, which takes place on Nov. 10 in Chicago, is one of several in a series that have taken place this fall. HAF has presented at the fairs in Miami, New York, Los Angeles and Houston.
October 17, 2012 by Jennifer Brandt
By Javier Sierra
The most valuable gift we can give our children and grandchildren does not come with a price tag. Its value is so hard to calculate, we would run out of zeros to determine it.
An entire generation offers this legacy, from the richest to the poorest. It’s called Nature (with capital n), the synonym of life, health and happiness. And all —young and old— must be aware of its vital importance.
And that’s precisely what 60 Latino kids did this summer during a weekend at Browns Canyon, CO: explore and enjoy one of the most beautiful places in the great American West.
Organized and funded by Hispanic Access Foundation and Environmental Learning for Kids, the outing included camping overnight and white-water rafting on the Arkansas River.
“It was so exciting,” says Jennie Hurrieta, a Denver high school senior who took the trip down Class 3 rapids along with several friends. “First, I was very scared, but now I’m happy that I did it. Now I love white-water rafting.”
“The trip down was my favorite moment,” says Itzel Saenz, an 18-year-old student at Red Rocks Community College in Denver. “I had never done it before. I also enjoyed how to set up a tent.”
The students and their families enjoyed this experience surrounded by amazing biodiversity and natural beauty. Being in contact with the outdoors and spending the night with only the stars as your roof sooth the spirit and cleanse the soul.
In fact, students who get in touch with nature do better in school. According to a California state survey conducted among mostly Latino students, outdoors education programs increase math and science scores by 27 percent.
Indeed, study after study confirms that outdoors experiences are particularly close to the heart of the Latino community.
According to a Colorado College conducted in Western states, 75 percent of Latinos favor the establishment of more national parks and national monuments. Also, 78 percent agreed we can build a robust economy at the same time we protect nature.
Moreover, a national Latino poll conducted by the Sierra Club and NCLR revealed that 92 percent of us agree that protecting God’s Creation is a moral responsibility.
“We take the mountains for granted because they are always there,” says Jennie. “But we never really realize how beautiful they are until we go out there and experience it up close and personal.”
But so much beauty could not always be there. Browns Canyon is threatened on several fronts. The construction of roads and other infrastructure has increased erosion an, the bald eagle, the mountain lion and many more.d destroyed some vital areas of this ecosystem. Also, this pressure has endangered several species, such as the peregrine falcon.
This degradation is having consequences for communities close to the canyon as they are experiencing draught because of the lower levels of underground water.
“We learned a lot about water and the scarcity of it,” says Itzel. “The main priority right now is to save water. We also were told to be very careful with fires, never to start a fire near a tree.”
Browns Canyon and so many other natural wonders could disappear unless we all contribute to their preservation. The students learned that President Obama has the power to make sure this legacy will be enjoyed by future generations by designating them as national monuments.
And this month, several participants, including Jennie and Itzel, traveled to Washington, DC, and visited the White House to promote the natural treasures that belong to us all. And happily, their visit coincided with the designation of another gorgeous Colorado place, Chimney Canyon, as a national monument.
The reward is indeed priceless.
October 3, 2012 by Jennifer Brandt
By Catharine M. Hamm, Los Angeles Times Travel editor
Cesar E. Chavez, the son of migrant laborers whose nonviolent struggle for farm laborers’ rights won him comparisons to Gandhi, will be commemorated with a new national monument in Keene, Calif.
President Obama is expected to travel to Keene on Oct. 8 to formally establish the monument, the 398th park unit in the U.S. (A national park generally has “outstanding scenic feature or natural phenomena,” according to the National Park Service website. “National monuments, on the other hand … contain objects of historic, prehistoric, or scientific interest.”)
The Chavez monument will be at a site known as Nuestra Senora Reina de la Paz (Our Lady Queen of Peace), in the foothills of the Tehachapi Mountains. It was here that the United Farm Workers of America was founded in the 1970s, an organization in which Chavez played a pivotal part. Chavez and his family also lived here until his death in 1993. He is buried here and the new monument will include his gravesite.
As a labor activist, Chavez helped farm workers achieve wage increases and better working conditions. He believed in nonviolence and often fasted to accentuate his points. A water-only fast in 1988 was said to have damaged his health.
In the Los Angeles Times obituary for Chavez, state Sen. Art Torres said: “He was our Gandhi. He was our Dr. Martin Luther King.”
In the obituary, then-President Clinton said, “The labor movement and all Americans have lost a great leader with the death of Cesar Chavez. An inspiring fighter for the cause to which he dedicated his life, Cesar Chavez was an authentic hero to millions of people throughout the world.”
Jockey Mario Gutierrez will be attempting to win the first Triple Crown since 1978, after winning both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness with horse I’ll Have Another. They’ll be racing on June 9th at Belmont Park.
The Hispanic Access Foundation has recently learned about the men and women who work behind the scenes at Belmont Park. Through a partnership with the Race Track Chaplaincy of New York, we’ve been working to bring these workers tax information through our “Preparate Para un Futuro Mejor,” (Prepare Yourself for a Better Future).
Learn more about these workers with scenes from the backside of the tracks:
LAS CRUCES – There was nothing to dispute Wednesday among the 50 or so southern New Mexicans who were at the Monte Vista Day Use Area, immediately east of Tortugas Mountain, also known as “A” Mountain.
The view to the east of the Organ Mountains was breathtaking. For that matter, the vistas in any direction were pretty spectacular.
“AARP has touted this as a special place to live, …weren’t they right,” said John Muñoz, president of the Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Cruces. “Where else can you get a suntan in January?”
There was a titter of laughter from the group, and then a collective sigh. Muñoz and the national retirement magazine was right; the views of the Organs and those of the desert landscape in every direction were something to behold. And the people who were gathered Wednesday were there to emphasize that point.
Hispanic leaders from throughout the state have banded together to call for congressional leaders to enact federal legislation to protect public lands in southern New Mexico, such as the Organs; the Robledo Mountains, near Radium Springs; the Potrillo Mountains, and Sierra de las Uvas. Twenty-nine Hispanic leaders, including former governor Jerry Apodaca and former state Attorney General Patricia Madrid – both Las Cruces natives – have signed and sent a letter to Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, New Mexico Democrats, and Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., to support the proposed Doña Ana County Conservation and Protection Act, introduced into the U.S. Senate last year.
“We are writing to convey our strong support for the protection of the environmentally, culturally, and historically rich landscapes of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region in Doña Ana County,” said a portion of the open letter to southern New Mexico’s congressional delegation. “Hispanic culture and presence in New Mexico is and has always been closely connected to our state’s rich public lands. These areas provide our families and communities with recreation, hunting, traditions and so much more. Throughout time, they have also brought travelers and tourists, and with them economic development.
“As such, protecting these national treasures is an important priority to us, and to our future.”
The Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce and the group People for Preserving Our Western Heritage have opposed federal wilderness designation for the area, arguing, among other things, that it would hamper the Border Patrol in being able to secure the southern border.
Mesilla Mayor Nora Barraza, among those who signed the letter, said those natural resources within the county are also an integral part of the culture, traditions and values many southern New Mexico Hispanics have.
“I can attest to the efforts of preservation,” Barraza said. “If we lose these beautiful landscapes we can never recover them. Isn’t this why we call this (state) the Land of Enchantment.”
Madrid emphasized the need for federal leaders to take immediate action to protect southern New Mexico’s vistas.
“It is up to our generation to protect these incredible lands as both the key to celebrate our history, as well as a birthright of future generations,” Madrid said.
Retired state representative J. Paul Taylor, of Mesilla, added there is even family history to one of the county’s more notable public lands. The Robledo Mountains, just north of Las Cruces near Radium Springs, are named after Don Pedro Robledo, a descendant of Taylor’s family.
He also has a strong affinity for the Organ Mountains.
“Los Organos – the Organs, have been an essential part of Hispanic culture in this valley for hundreds of years,” Taylor said. “They were a landmark for travelers on the Camino Real, and a consistent source of food, shelter, and materials for local residents.
“Now, they are more important than ever, as we teach our youth the values of stewardship and care that other generations have learned in their shadow.”
There was at least one idea how to drive the point home to federal leaders and convince them to vote for the proposed legislation.
“Let’s invite the president, the federal legislators, to come see for themselves, to participate in some of our cultural and traditional ceremonies,” Barraza said.
Steve Ramirez can be reached at (575) 541-5452. Also, follow Steve Ramirez on Twitter: @SteveRamirez6.
Our Land – Our Future
• Hispanic leaders throughout southern New Mexico are calling for federal government leaders to take action to protect the Organ Mountains, Robledo Mountains, Sierra de las Uvas, and Potrillo Mountains.
• Most of those lands are proposed for protection through the Doña Ana County Conservation and Protection Act.
• The proposed federal legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate in 2011.
• The Act would protect nearly 400,000 acres of public land in Do-a Ana County, by designating 271,050 acres as wilderness and creating a 109,600 acre National Conservation Area around the Organ and Doña Ana Mountains, and parts of Broad Canyon.