For most high performing Latino students, attending a selective university is simply not on the landscape. More than half of the highly academically qualified yet low-income Latino students are undermatching, or going to schools that they are overqualified for.
One might think that these students would flourish at these less challenging schools but the reverse has proven to be true. Students are not graduating from these less challenging schools because of lack of resources, lack of opportunities and lack of deep and meaningful connections. This is something that the Gilbert and Jacki Cisneros Foundation is addressing through the creation of the George Washington University Cisneros Hispanic Leadership Institute.
The institute, which formally opened May 11, 2016, was created to help qualified students attain academic success, build leadership skills, and engage in a long-term commitment to making a difference within the Hispanic community. The institute encompasses a pre-college summer program, college scholarship/mentorship support, a post-doctoral fellowship, and public and academic programming.
The goal of the GW Cisneros Hispanic Leadership Institute is to be a top research institute with a national reputation and hold events that will bring scholars and others from around the nation to discuss topics that affect the Hispanic community. We want to be a national think tank for the Hispanic community as well as be an active presence on the GW campus for the students. We aim to provide scholarships and give students a safe place to come together to study, build friendships and work to become the leaders of tomorrow as well as get involved in campus life, which also increases graduation rates. In short, we want to be ‘A Home Away from Home’ for these students.
For the sake of our democracy and our nation, everyone needs to perceive that these types of opportunities are available to them.