NLEI and NLU partner to meet Latino community’s specific educational needs
New initiative will pair community-based degree programs with a high level of support
CHICAGO (November 3, 2009) – Last Thursday night marked a rite of passage for over 60 Latino men and women who participated in the National Latino Education Institute (NLEI) 2009 commencement ceremony. In front of a crowd of over 350 family members, friends and teachers, they crossed the stage and became NLEI graduates, prepared to enter the workforce and make their communities proud. That night, they also learned that NLEI is partnering with National-Louis University (NLU) to help them earn a college degree in the same place they have been studying—and within the same supportive environment.
Elba Aranda-Suh, executive director of NLEI, and Christopher Multhauf, executive dean of the College of Management and Business at NLU, announced The NLEI + NLU Partnership during the NLEI commencement ceremony. By joining forces, these two Chicago institutions will tackle specific barriers often faced by Latinos on the path to college.
"This partnership takes into consideration all the challenges we face as Latinos—money, time, tutoring, work schedules. Our goal is to surround the participants with all the support they need to succeed, leading to a college degree from a very reputable institution," says Aranda-Suh. "The program includes credit for previous work experience, Spanish language proficiency and NLEI education; lastly it has a very unique career oriented component. For nearly four decades, NLEI has sought to prepare its students for promising careers that provide growth and prosperous futures and this is why we are introducing this much needed program."
Latino enrollment and retention initiatives in higher education have traditionally faced major challenges ranging from comprehensive and sustained institutional commitment to funding. Many Latino students enrolled in degree programs do not graduate. According to a study from the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame, compared to non-Latino whites, less than half as many U.S.-born Latinos graduate from college.
"We are proud to work with NLEI to make higher education more accessible for Chicago’s Latino community," says Multhauf. "As Chicago’s fastest-growing community, Latinos will define how our city’s economy will prosper in the early decades of the 21st century, how our children will be educated, businesses will be operated and our health care will be managed."
The NLEI + NLU Partnership links NLU’s distinctive bachelor’s programs with NLEI’s strong support systems. Students accepted will attend classes at NLEI to earn either a bachelor of science degree in management (BSM) or health care leadership (HCL) from NLU. Each class will feature a small student-to-faculty ratio, knowledgeable NLU instructors, strong peer group support and respect for the culture and community embraced by Chicago’s Latinos.
Students can also apply to earn credit for prior learning—like training, language skills, work experience and prior coursework—which makes it possible to earn an affordable, undergraduate degree more quickly through the NLEI + NLU Partnership. Both the BSM and HCL are accelerated, undergraduate degree programs that give students the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree in about three years.
"Along the way, students will get a lot of support," says Aranda-Suh. ―The NLEI + NLU Partnership will include NLEI’s strong tradition of student services, including bilingual/bicultural counseling and mentoring."
NLEI alumni, current students and members of Chicago’s Latino community are invited to learn more about programs offered through The NLEI + NLU Partnership. They may also contact Henrietta Barcelo at NLEI by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 773-247-0707, ext. 246.
This effort is, in part, a result of NLU’s Proyecto Comunidad strategic initiative to recruit, retain and graduate Latino college students, and to place them as successful leaders in Chicago’s businesses, community organizations and schools. "Through sustainable partnerships like this one, we want to create a community that will inspire Latinos to pursue and complete college," says Ana Maria Soto, executive director of Latino initiatives at NLU. "We want our work to become a national model for this type of effort."
NATIONAL-LOUIS UNIVERSITY has been a force for change in American education since its founding in 1886. Known for nearly a century as the National College of Education, it is still nationally renowned today not only for its programs in teacher preparation and educational leadership, but as one of the first universities to address the unique needs of adult learners. National-Louis pioneered accelerated education for adults, and today offers a range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the National College of Education, the College of Arts and Science and the College of Management and Business. www.nl.edu
NLEI exists to enhance the quality of life for Latinos through educational, vocational, employment opportunities and advocacy in a manner that represents our unique cultural identity and needs. As a community-based organization, NLEI understands the challenges faced by our community and has developed a support structure to help individuals succeed through higher education. www.nlei.org
Pictured above: Christopher Multhauf (left), executive dean of the College of Management and Business at NLU, shakes hands with Elba Aranda-Suh (right), executive director of NLEI, after announcing a partnership between NLU and NLEI to address the Latino community’s specific educational needs.