Thought Leaders, Advocates and Practitioners from Across the Country Convene in Chicago to Improve College and Career Opportunities for Latino and African American Students

Featured speakers to include: Former Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis; Civil Rights Activist Dolores Huerta

NEW YORK — Although there has been a steady increase in the number of Latino and African American students enrolling in and completing college, striking inequities still exist. Research done as recently as 2010 shows that 62 percent of white students seeking bachelor degrees actually earned them within six years, as opposed to only 50 percent of Latino students and 39 percent of African American students. To continue seeking solutions that will enable more traditionally underserved minority students to prepare for and succeed in college, the College Board will host two timely forums  —  Prepárate™: Educating Latinos for the Future of America (May 1–2) and A Dream Deferred™: The Future of African American Education (May 2–3) — at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago.

Both conferences will convene thought leaders, advocates and practitioners to learn from one another and discuss strategies to ensure more Latino and African American students are prepared for college, have opportunities to earn a college degree and pursue successful careers in today’s global marketplace. These two conferences embody the College Board’s mission to promote access and equity in higher education for all students.

“These two important conferences bring together some of the country’s most dedicated educators, advocates, and policymakers to further the action agenda to increase the success of African American and Latino students in the education pipeline,” said James Montoya, vice president of relationship development for the College Board. “A college education continues to be the surest route to opportunity in this country, and we want to make certain that many more students are well prepared to be successful in college.”

Among the influential voices that will be heard in these important conversations are Hilda Solis, former Secretary of Labor; Dolores Huerta, cofounder of the United Farm Workers (formerly the National Farm Workers Association);Rachel Moran, dean of UCLA School of Law; Moctesuma Esparza, award-winning film producer, entertainment executive and community activist; Amy Wilkins, senior fellow for social justice at the College Board; Pedro Noguera, professor of education at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development; Robert Townsend, independent filmmaker and producer; and Alvin Starks, social justice advocate, African American Policy Forum.

Prepárate and A Dream Deferred will feature more than 140 conference sessions combined, during which experts will address critical issues within Latino and African American education and focus on successful strategies to:

  • engage parents to be advocates and supporters of their children;
  • create opportunities for students to experience challenging course work in high school that prepares them for college;
  • strengthen students in math and science for STEM careers;
  • ensure students early transition out of ESL programs;
  • ensure high school graduation and timely college graduation;
  • assist students to successfully navigate the college admission process and help universities increase recruitment of students;
  • improve the transfer rate from community colleges to four-year colleges and help students complete degrees.

Spanish-speaking experts on these topics will be available for media interviews.

Highlights for Prepárate:

Wednesday, May 1

9–10:20 a.m., Palmer House Hilton, Chicago

  • Hilda Solis, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, will share her powerful story of how education transformed her life and why education has been a top priority throughout her career as it continues to be an equalizer for underserved communities.

10:30–11:30 a.m.

  • José Rico, board member at the Latino Policy Forum and former executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, will moderate “Headlines, Bylines and Education: Media Impacting Change in Our Communities.” Top journalists will offer examples of how their stories are influencing positive change around important education issues for Latinos. Panelists includePaula Gómez (Univisión); Maureen Kelleher (independent education writer/blogger); and Ana Roca Castro (Latinos in Tech Innovation & Social Media -  (#LATISM)  

12:50–2:25 p.m.

  • Dolores Huerta, cofounder of the United Farm Workers and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, will share her thoughts on education, youth development and how to cultivate the next generation of Latino leaders.

Thursday, May 2

Concurrent Sessions for Prepárate and A Dream Deferred

8:00–9:30 a.m.

  • Amy Wilkins — senior fellow for social justice at the College Board, former president of The Education Trust, will share her thoughts on equity and access for all students, especially traditionally underserved minority and low-income students and how she plans to advance the College Board’s work to improve college and career opportunities for these student populations. 

9:50–11:10 a.m.

  • With a pending Supreme Court decision on Fisher vs. University of Texas, the education community is eager to see how this decision will impact K–12 and higher education. A panel of leading experts will discuss the background of the case and its potential impact on college admission policies. Panelists include Saba Bierda, policy and legal advisor at the EducationCounsel LLC, District of Columbia; James Montoya, vice president of relationship development for the College Board; Rachel Moran, dean of UCLA School of Law; and Alvin Starks, social justice advocate at the African American Policy Forum. (Also see follow-up sessions: Diversity — An Institutional Priority, Practitioners Speak: 12:30–2:10 p.m. and Fisher vs. University of Texas: Diversity in the Balance:  2:20–3:20 p.m.)

3:30-5 p.m.

  • Moctesuma Esparza, one of the organizers of the 1968 Chicano Blowouts, will share his compelling story of how Mexican American youth protested for equal education opportunities in East Los Angeles — a piece of history which inspired the HBO documentary Blowouts. Esparza continues the fight for social justice and education opportunity for Latino youth through his work.

Friday, May 3

A Dream Deferred™

2:25–3:45 p.m.

  • Hollywood icon and film producer Robert Townsend will share his remarkable story of breaking the color barrier in the film industry, explain how he captures the challenges facing African Americans on-screen, and discuss how his films can inspire and increase equity and access for students and professionals of color. (This follows an 8 p.m. screening on May 2 of Townsend’s new film, In the Hive, which tells the story of a fictionalized account of an alternative school in Bertie County, North Carolina.)

The College Board will bestow awards in two categories over the course of both conferences. During Prepárate — Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez, the first Latino to be elected to Congress, representing Illinois’ fourth district in Chicago;Hilda Solis, former Secretary of Labor; and Dolores Huerta, cofounder of United Farm Workers will receive the Modelo de Comunidad award, in recognition of their contributions to increased Latino student achievement in education and the positive impact they have made on Latino students and their families. During A Dream Deferred —  John W. Rogers, the founder and chairman of Ariel Investments; Adrian Mims, dean of students at Brookline High School in Massachusetts; and the Improving Montclair Achieving Network Initiative will receive the Dr. Asa G. Hilliard Model of Excellence award — which recognizes individuals or organizations that have encouraged African American students to strive for academic success.

To register and for more information on both conferences, visit https://preparate.collegeboard.org and https://dreamdeferred.collegeboard.org