Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hispanic students targeted through music

Concert organizers aim to strike chord with Hispanic students
By Juan Castillo | Statesman, July 13, 2009

The value of an education is sometimes best communicated in economic terms.

Graduate from high school and you can make up to $1 million in lifetime earnings. Go to college and you can make $1 million more. Be fluent in two languages and you can earn even more.

That’s the stay-in-school message espoused by local nonprofit groups like the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation, Para Una Buena Vida and the E3 Alliance. And it’s the message organizers of tomorrow night’s concert at the Oswaldo A.B. Cantu Pan-American Recreation Center, 2100 East 3rd Street, hope to convey to the city’s large Hispanic student population.

The event, which is presented by the Hispanic chamber foundation and the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department, is from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., with Latin urban music by Austin-based Don Yojan y La Frescura beginning at 8. It’s all part of the 2009 Summer Hillside Concert Series.

“What’s different about this stay-in-school message is that we’re going to be having the performers deliver it … You can have a better life for you and your family,” said Linda Medina with the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber, who is coordinating Tuesday night’s event.

The musical group will talk about the importance of staying in school both before the show and in a meet-and-greet with students afterward.

Hispanic students make up a majority of Austin’s public schools enrollment and have high dropout rates, low graduation rates and low college enrollment rates. A recent city analysis of census data found that Austin’s Latinos have the second highest education gap in a comparison with 31 cities across the country. Anglos age 25 and older in Austin hold a bachelor’s degree or higher at a rate nearly four times that of Hispanics.

“We want to see those graduation numbers rise,” Medina said.

Organizers said last year’s debut event drew 500 people for music by Chingo Bling and appearances by NFL football stars Marcus and Michael Griffin, who shared their inspirational stories.

In addition to the musical performance, the Austin Community College Mobile Go Center will present college-related material and information to students and their families. Representatives from the University of Texas will also be there to answer questions about higher education.

The mobile centers are part of the College for Texans Campaign to support the state’s effort in closing the educational gap by enrolling an additional 630,000 Texans into college by 2015.

For information contact Medina at or 462-4311.

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