Post-Secondary Initiatives

Post-Secondary Initiatives
Esperanza, Inc.
Academic Level
Community-Based Organization
Issue Area
Key Personnel
Program Focus
First Year Support,


Esperanza's mission is to improve the academic achievement of Hispanics in Greater Cleveland by supporting students to graduate high school and promoting postsecondary educational attainment. They were established in 1983 to help Hispanic immigrants access education and employment, and now provide direct, culturally competent support to Hispanic students from middle school through postsecondary. They work to ensure that the long-term educational needs of their community are met in a changing and demanding environment while staying true to their mission.

Their goal is to steward Hispanic college success and entry into the workforce measured by persistence and graduation at 70% or higher. Their services serve 100% Latinx students, including undocumented students.

Program Description

Esperanza developed their postsecondary support in 2016 as an expansion to its successful, longstanding high school programming. This effort offers a continuum of care for Latinx students who had historically relied heavily on Esperanza’s programs throughout high school and serves as a complement to Esperanza’s existing postsecondary scholarship program.

When first developed, the program provided cohorts of students programming using UnidosUS’ Lideres Avanzando curriculum, allowing them to participate in interactive activities/workshops on topics relevant to the first-gen college experience. Over time, they have built upon this model, offering more robust case management, internship support, and additional scholarship opportunities, in addition to Lideres Avanzando. These add-ons have allowed Esperanza to better support college persistence, graduation, and preparedness for the job market upon graduation.


  • The retention rate of 90% is well above the average retention rate of Hispanic students nationwide.
  • The 2018 cohort has a persistence rate of 92%, 2019 cohort 93%, and the 2020 cohort 99%. 
  • Esperanza’s persistence rates have stayed relatively stable through the pandemic and are 31% higher than the reported national Latinx persistence rate and nearly 22% higher than students overall.

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