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Lumina Foundation Aims to Steer More Latinos to College

Supporting programs that increase the preparedness of Latinos for college and help them to enroll is a grantmaking focus of the Lumina Foundation for Education based in Indianapolis, Ind., I learned while recently reporting for EdWeek about Latinos' tendency to go to community colleges rather than four-year colleges.

Less than 40 percent of people in the United States who are of working age have a two- or four-year college degree, said Jim L. Applegate, the vice president for program development for the private Lumina Foundation. He said the foundation has a goal to help increase that proportion to 60 percent by 2025. "The only way to get there is to open up college opportunity for the fastest growing youth population in the country, which is the Latino population."

The foundation supports a Web site, www.knowhow2go.org, that provides information for students in middle school and high school to learn what it takes to prepare for and enter college. The foundation has embarked on an effort to help create statewide efforts that can support disadvantaged students to prepare for and enroll in college. For example, it is supporting ENLACE to coordinate a push in Florida to encourage youths to get a postsecondary degree. ENLACE means "link" or "connection" in Spanish and stands for ENgaging, Latino, African-American, and other Communities in Education.

The story I wrote about Latinos and college for EdWeek focused on what can be done to support more Latinos to go to four-year institutions of higher education rather than community colleges. But the Lumina Foundation takes the position that associate degrees as well as bachelor's degrees are valuable in the workplace and has spent a large part of the last five years trying to help improve the quality of education at community colleges, according to Applegate.

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