Senator Jeff Bingaman, third from right, congratulates the Lumina team.

Latinos are the fastest-growing student population in America and Lumina Foundation supports the Unidos Project, designed to increase post-secondary attainment of Latino students. Lumina is investing more than $11.5 million in Latino Student Success (LSS) efforts across the country. The Unidos Project in Albuquerque received $600,000 from Lumina Foundation for a "no wrong gate" approach that allows students to flow freely through the educational system, with appropriate support and direction to remain on course, and with minimal barriers to success.

Under the specific LSS effort, Lumina supports local partnerships at 14 sites in 11 states that demonstrate a commitment to their growing Latino community. This grant effort encourages community leaders across key policy, education, business and nonprofit sectors to build, implement and sustain "place-based partnerships" that capitalize on local talent. The Foundation works alongside Excelencia in Education to provide technological assistance and evaluation support to each partnership.

"Lumina's Latino Student Success effort is an integral part of our commitment to Goal 2025," Lumina President and CEO Jamie Merisotis, said. "Through these partnerships, we aim to build bridges among leadership groups already working to improve Latino college preparation, access and attainment."

UNM Vice President for Equity and Inclusion Jozi De Leon, said, "The Unidos Project is focused on creating a culture of collaboration and collective impact across numerous entities to achieve its overall goal of producing 55,000 post-secondary degrees and credentials for Latinos in Bernalillo County by the year 2025," she said. De Leon is the principal investigator of the Unidos Project. She added, "The goal can only be met by increasing Latino high school graduation rates, enrolling more Latinos in post-secondary education, and graduating more Latinos from our institutions of higher education."

At more than 50 million, Latinos represent the largest and fastest-growing population group in the United States. By 2025, half of the nation's workforce will be of Latino descent. At that time, 63 percent of all jobs in the U.S. will require some form of post-secondary education or training, according to labor economist Anthony Carnevale of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

The strength of this focused Latino student success effort is due to the dedication of many partners striving to reach a national college attainment goal.

"The collective support and commitment of our institutional and community partners is the only possibility we have to 'move the needle' on increasing educational attainment among Latino students and creating sustainable change," De Leon added.

The Unidos partners include representatives from six key sectors: Albuquerque Public Schools, University of New Mexico, Central New Mexico Community College, Center for Education Policy Research, UNM El Centro de la Raza, the College Board, Youth Development, Inc., Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce, ENLACE, Innovate+Educate, Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Community Schools Partnership, and State Representative/New Mexico House Education Committee Chairman Rick Miera.

Senator Jeff Bingaman and UNM Provost Chaouki Abdallah at the Lumina Grant press event.

Among those who attended the press conference at the National Hispanic Cultural Center was Senator Jeff Bingaman, State Representative Rick Miera, Robert Perry of Mayor Richard Berry's office; Chaouki Abdallah, UNM provost; Jozi DeLeon, UNM vice president, Division of Equity and Inclusion; Eddie Soto, Albuquerque Public Schools associate superintendent for secondary education; Albuquerque City Councilor Ken Sanchez; Philip Bustos, CNM vice president for student services; Ralph Arellanes, LULAC, state director, and chair, Hispanic Round Table of New Mexico; and Adrian Pedroza, commissioner, White House Initiative on Hispanic Education.

Members of the Lumina team include: Lorena Blanca-Silva, administrative officer, UNM Division of Equity and Inclusion; Teresa Brito-Asenap, Albuquerque Public Schools; Jozi De Leon, vice president, Division of Equity and Inclusion; Jennifer Gomez-Chavez, director, Unidos Lumina Grant; and Angelo Gonzales, associate director, UNM Center for Education Policy Research.

Media Contact: Carolyn Gonzales (505) 277-5920; email: