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White House names Academic Achievers Program a ‘Bright Spot’ in Hispanic education

The Center for Mexican American Studies program helps students from middle school through college

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics has recognized the Center for Mexican American Studies’ Academic Achievers Program as a national “Bright Spot in Hispanic Education.”

The Center recruits into the Academic Achievers Program (AAP) underrepresented students who are the first in their families to attend college and whose circumstances put them at risk for dropping out of school. AAP connects with these students as early as middle school and offers mentorship and support through college graduation by providing rigorous academic tutoring, test preparation, workshops, counseling and leadership training.

As a Bright Spot, the CMAS Academic Achievers Program will be part of a national online catalog that includes more than 230 programs that invest in key education priorities for Hispanics.

“There has been notable progress in Hispanic educational achievement, and it is due to the efforts of these Bright Spots in Hispanic Education, programs and organizations working throughout the country to help Hispanic students reach their full potential," said Alejandra Ceja, executive director of the Initiative, which was established 25 years ago to address the educational disparities faced by the Hispanic community.

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics seeks to encourage collaboration between stakeholders focused on similar issues in sharing data-driven approaches, promising practices, peer advice and effective partnerships, ultimately resulting in increased support for the educational attainment of the Hispanic community, from cradle-to-career.

The Center for Mexican American Studies has documented the program’s effectiveness in keeping students focused on their studies and motivated to earn a college degree. AAP students consistently achieve higher GPAs and graduate at a higher rate than that of UH Latino students who are not enrolled in the program.

“This national recognition is a great testament to both the AAP and the dedication of the University of Houston students who continue to be a part of it,” said Paula Myrick Short, senior vice chancellor/senior vice president for academic affairs and provost for UH. “Over the past 21 years, AAP students have developed into leaders within our University and gone on to serve as leaders in the community and workforce.”

Last October, AAP was recognized by the national organization Excelencia in Education as one of the “2014 Examples of Excelencia,” which highlighted15 programs that are increasing Latino student success in higher education.

“Our students’ dedication to their own future inspires us to continue our support of them,” said Rebeca Trevino, AAP program manager.