TAMPA, Fl. (Sept. 4, 2009) – The University of South Florida is an important stop in an expanding nationwide “community conversation” about Latino education spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Juan Sepúlveda, director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. The full-day open dialogue between Sepúlveda, the White House Initiative team and members of the local Tampa Bay community takes place Sept. 22 in two sessions, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and from 12:45 to 2:45 p.m. at Traditions Hall in the Sam & Martha Gibbons Alumni Center on the Tampa campus.

Facilitated by ENLACE Florida, Sepúlveda’s trip to Tampa includes visits with community leaders, elected officials and educators. The town hall-style community conversations are gaining public input on the status of Hispanic education prior to updating the Executive Order that produced the initiative later this year.

Attendees will be able to voice their concerns about two primary points:

  1. How Latino education attainment can and should be improved; and
  2. What the White House Initiative should be doing to facilitate this improvement.

The information gleaned from these sessions will serve as the foundation for the new presidential executive order that will be signed by President Barack Obama and govern the White House Initiative henceforth.

“USF is a logical destination for this important tour because we have many projects that engage the Hispanic community involving education,” said USF President Judy Genshaft. “In recent months Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education magazine recognized USF in its annual list of the Top 100 U.S. institutions that conferred the most college degrees on Hispanic students and named USF’s College of Medicine one of the country’s top 25 medical schools enrolling Hispanic students. USF is the home of ENLACE Florida, a statewide network promoting college readiness and success for Latinos and other underrepresented students and our USF Latino Community Advisory Committee has raised more than $4 million for scholarships. We’re dedicated to all efforts that promote educational excellence.”

ENLACE Florida Executive Director Paul Dosal, who was instrumental in having USF included in the tour, added, “This is truly a two-way conversation. Participants will have an opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns about the policies that impact educational opportunities for Hispanic students at all levels. I believe the feedback gathered on such critical issues as college preparedness and financial aid will play an integral role in future policy development.”

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans was created by Executive Order Sept. 24, 1990 to improve Federal efforts to promote quality education for Hispanic Americans. The series of community conversations began in Texas in July, will continue through early October and take in 18 states and Puerto Rico.

“Education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity and success, it is a prerequisite for success. We need to hear from and meet the needs of all students of all ages and eliminate the gaps in achievement between children of different backgrounds,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “My hope is that Juan Sepúlveda helps us connect more closely to the Hispanic community and understand the challenges families face, so we are better able to provide clear paths to college and careers.”

ENLACE Florida, invites you to participate in a White House Initiative Community Conversation from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. or from 12:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. on Tuesday, September 22, in Traditions Hall at the Gibbons Alumni Center at the University of South Florida, located at 4202 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa, Fla.

Please select only ONE session, either morning or afternoon, to attend and RSVP to Anh-Kay Pizano, ENLACE Florida, at 974-6429 or apizano@enlace.usf.edu.

We look forward to seeing you at this exciting event!

View images on flickr

For more information on the White House “Community Conversation” on Latino Education visit :

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