SAN FRANCISCO - State and local elected officials joined Excelencia in Education and its partners to release "Latino College Completion: California" at the Westin San Francisco Market Street here today, and to unveil a new expansion of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund's "Generation 1st Degree" program.  Both are part of the initiative Ensuring America's Future by Increasing Latino College Completion, a collaborative effort among 60 national partners led by Excelencia in Education. 

"One in four Latinos in the United States live in California, and this research-based assessment of the status of Latino degree attainment is especially timely for state and local leaders committed to improving the California's human capital," said Deborah Santiago, co-founder of Excelencia in Education. 

The fact sheet revealed the following:

  • Between 2006 and 2008, the number of Latinos who earned undergraduate degrees in California grew by 13 percent, while other groups increased by just eight percent.
  • Among the top 10 states enrolling Latinos, California had the largest increase in degrees conferred to Latinos over three years.
  • However, college completion among Latino students in California still lags behind their White counterparts in several measures. For example, there is a gap between Latinos and Whites in total degrees and certificates awarded per 1,000 adults aged 18 to 44 relative to the adult population with no college degree of 26.8.
  • In California, 39 percent of working-age adults have college degrees, but only 16 percent of working-age Latino adults have college degrees.

"The data is compelling; the relative youth, growth, and current levels of educational attainment among Latinos show that our nation will not return to world leadership in college completion without a tactical plan focused on increasing Latino degree attainment," said Santiago.  "Nationally, Latinos will have to almost triple the number of degrees earned currently to reach the goal by 2020.  California is home to more Latinos than any other state, so success here is vital to America's future."

Following a briefing and discussion of the new data by Excelencia's national and California-based partners, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund announced that Jacki and Gilbert Cisneros, who won $266 million last year in a multi-state lottery, have agreed to fund a "Generation 1st Degree" expansion to Pico Rivera, Calif., with a starting amount of $1.25 million.  "Generation 1st Degree" is a Hispanic Scholarship Fund initiative focused on closing the "degree gap" that exists between Latino students and their peers.

"Jacki and Gilbert are making an incredibly generous donation and, even more importantly, they are asking all who live in or care about Pico Rivera, to step up and make the All-American City famous.  They want to leverage their gift to begin a new, college-going generation, in Pico Rivera and then beyond.  This dovetails perfectly with our national initiative called 'Generation 1st Degree' which aims to get at least one member of every household to earn a college degree, because once there is college grad in the house, others in the family realize they too can pursue and earn a college education," said Frank Alvarez, Hispanic Scholarship Fund president and CEO.

"Excelencia is pleased to work with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund on this new project and excited to help announce it here," said Santiago.  "This is another example of Ensuring America's Future partners coming together to build and implement tactical programs and long-term strategies to improve Latino college completion."

Excelencia in Education's initiative Ensuring America's Future by Increasing Latino College Completion is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Lumina Foundation for Education, and the Kresge Foundation.  

To download the fact sheet "Latino College Completion: California," visit

Excelencia in Education is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization whose mission is to accelerate Latino student success in higher education.


Release Date
Mon, 08/08/2011 - 9:00pm