More students of color now attend U.S. public schools than white students, including 13 million Hispanic students, according to the Pew Research Center.
However, despite the greater presence of Hispanics students in the classroom, Hispanic church leaders are concerned because research indicates that the Hispanic student population drops out of high school at an alarming rate. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that the Hispanic high school drop out rate stands significantly higher compared to blacks and whites, 13% compared to 8% and 4%, respectively.
Additionally, we know that a student’s successes or struggles in preK-12 education can be a strong indicator of the student’s successes or struggles in college. In fact, some research indicates that nearly 45% of Hispanics who graduate from high school will require some form of remediation for their first year of college. For this reason the FE Coalition advocates on behalf of high and rigorous standards of education so that Hispanic students graduate college- or career-ready. In addition to academic challenges, the rising cost of tuition has also hurt college completion rates for Hispanic students. In fact, most research indicates that a student’s and his or her family’s socioeconomic status is one of the strongest predictors of college completion. Coupled together, these challenges can pose barriers to helping Hispanics students and families reach their God-given potential.
To address these concerns, in 2014 the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference launched an education initiative to activate churches in addressing the Hispanic education gap, particularly as it relates to college access for Hispanic students.
The FE Coalition is excited to promote one-of-a-kind program called “Bibles and Becas,” an initiative which encourages churches to give a Hispanic child a Bible and “seed money” for college scholarships at the time of his or her baby dedication, christening or baptism. I like to say, “Our churches sow in order that our students may reap.”
The NHCLC’s focus on college education is not merely a cultural trend or an economic or job-focused stratagem, but it is unequivocally a Kingdom-minded proposal. Rev. Samuel Rodriguez and Rev. Tony Suarez believe it’s important that followers of Christ pursue the highest levels of education so that believers can spread the Gospel into all sectors of society.
“This is important to us. This is a priority,” Suarez told CBN News. “We’re salt and light. We’re ambassadors for the kingdom of God. We need to finish our education. We need to not only be preachers and missionaries and evangelists but we need to become lawyers and doctors and governors and senators.”
For many Hispanic families the challenges are significant. Some wrestle with the factors associated with immigration, being undocumented, deportation, and single-parent households which for many has meant that students drop out of school to work or that students have never had a family member that has graduated from high school to model the path forward for them.
The NHCLC hopes that churches can come alongside Hispanic families to encourage them to keep their kids thriving in school from pre-K through college graduation.
And two tools that will surely help our students forward are a Bible and a Beca.
Forward and higher in Christ,
Rev. Girien R. Salazar
Executive Director, FE Coalition
One way to start a college scholarship fund is through a small $25 to $100 ofrenda given to the student’s parents or guardian so that they can open an education savings account or start a college fund in another type of savings account. Below are two websites that may help your church through the process of starting a college savings fund if you need some guidance. The FE Coalition does not officially endorse the financial advice given by these two sites, but we hope that the information they present can help you understand different options your church and parents may take in starting a college fund.