New initiative will recognize colleges committed to Latine student success

Excelencia in Education has unveiled a new initiative aimed at identifying colleges focused on Latine student success and promoting strategies that support Latine student achievement. The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit will begin awarding its “Seal of Excelencia” in January to colleges that reach certain benchmarks for performance on key indicators, implementation of evidence-based practices, and progress toward leadership standards that ultimately help Latine students excel during their college careers.

Although Excelencia in Education has not yet released exact benchmarks, the organization says it will evaluate colleges across five key metrics: Latine student enrollment; retention; completion; financial support; and representation across campus, from administrative roles to faculty positions.

Codifying what it means to effectively serve Latine students

Funded by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Gilbert and Jacki Cisneros Foundation, the initiative aims to close the gap in Latine student success. Just 23 percent of Latine adults have obtained an associate’s degree or higher, and just 54 percent of Latine students earn bachelor’s degrees within a six year period, compared with 63 percent of white students, according to Inside Higher Ed.

“Colleges and universities need to go beyond enrolling Latino students to serving Latino students,” Deborah Santiago, CEO of Excelencia in Education, said in a statement. She hopes this new designation will help institutions better support Latine students, in part “by codifying what serving Latino students means.”

Excelencia in Education also hopes the Seal of Excelencia will help students and families focus on schools that have “developed a comprehensive and systemic approach to accelerating Latino student success.” Excelencia in Education President Sarita Brown said the initiative “demonstrates the commitment to raise the bar, and measure how effectively institutions serve Latino students through to degree completion. While Latino college-going is improving, change must happen faster to increase the numbers of Latino college graduates.”

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