Earlier this week, President Obama signed an executive order to renew and enhance the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. Signing the order demonstrates the President’s strong support for the critical role Hispanics play in the overall prosperity of the nation and highlights the Administration’s commitment to expanding education opportunities and improving education outcomes for all students.
New elements of the executive order include a high priority on working directly with communities in public-private partnerships, linking together key individuals and organizations from within and outside the education system to increase capacity and announce communitywide education initiatives.
The Corporation for National and Community Service is proud to support the efforts of this Order because of its dual emphasis on community engagement and improving education. The Corporation is focusing on efforts in low-performing schools and on improving the entire educational pipeline for students, from early childhood education through college graduation.
One of the fundamental tenets of this administration is that service isn’t secondary or separate from meeting community needs; it is an essential strategy for meeting those needs. With the right support, all communities can meet their needs through service. That’s why the Corporation is committed to help strengthen our communities by expanding opportunities to serve and making sure they include diverse communities and populations.
The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, passed in 2009, will dramatically expand AmeriCorps from its current level of 75,000 members to 250,000 members by 2017. The act specifically seeks to engage more youth from disadvantaged circumstances in service and volunteer action. Unfortunately, too many Latino youth still face disadvantaged circumstances; but we also know the Latino community has for many years exhibited its commitment to service as a way to meet pressing community needs. The 2009 Volunteering In America Report reported that 4.7 million Hispanic volunteers served their communities in 2008. As of May 2010, Hispanic participation in the Corporation’s programs – AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and Learn and Serve America – nearly doubled over the previous year.
We know this engagement will build stronger communities and we are excited to see how increasing service opportunities and a focus on educational excellence for Hispanics will bring about innovative solutions to many of our nation’s toughest problems, including education for young Latinos and all American youth.
Marco A. Davis is the Director of Public Engagement at the Corporation for National and Community Service.