White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics Launches "Back-to-School" Tour with Stops in Arkansas and Georgia

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The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics (WHIEEH) will kick off its 2014 Back-to-School Tour with stops that begin in Springdale, Arkansas, and conclude in Gwinnett County, Georgia. The tour, Monday-Wednesday, Sept. 8-10, will include five stops in three counties—Benton (Arkansas) Washington (Arkansas) and Gwinnett (Georgia)—that have seen more than a 150 percent increase in their Hispanic population since 2000.

"This year's tour will provide us with a great opportunity to advance President Obama's education agenda and increase the participation of the Hispanic community in the U.S. Department of Education's programs," said Alejandra Ceja, executive director of WHIEEH. "Our key priority is to increase Hispanic education attainment levels, thereby contributing to the President's 2020 Goal—to once again have the highest proportion of college graduates by the year 2020. We want to ensure that all Hispanics receive a complete and competitive education that prepares them for college, a career, and productive and satisfying lives. A key pathway for our efforts lies in the new and emerging communities that have experienced some of the largest Hispanic population growth over the last decade."

Throughout the tour, Administration officials will discuss President Obama's plans for and investments in early education and Preschool for All, as well as his call to re-design America's high schools and to promote college affordability and reduce college costs. Stops along the tour also will highlight effective adult/literacy/education, parental engagement, immigrant integration and youth engagement strategies in the Hispanic community. The events will enable WHIEEH to gather input and feedback from students, parents, educators, community leaders and stakeholders on successful efforts and issues of concern that could inform education policy-making in Washington, D.C.

On Monday, WHIEEH Executive Director Alejandra Ceja and Deputy Director Marco Davis will kick-off the tour in Springdale. The day's events will highlight the educational support systems the district has put in place to support a newly emerging Latino and immigrant community, and will focus on family engagement, immigrant integration and quality early learning. Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Tony Wood, Springdale Superintendent Jim Rollins and Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse will join Ceja and Davis.

Roundtables with students, parents, educators, administrators and others will take place on Tuesday in Springdale. The roundtables will address adult literacy/education, early learning and immigrant integration.

The tour will conclude on Wednesday in Lilburn, Georgia, where WHIEEH will host a Youth Town Hall. The town hall will focus on mentoring, college access and completion, and financial aid. It will bring together hundreds of high school students, national and local leaders, parents, educators, community partners and others.

WHIEEH's 2014 Back-to-School Tour is in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Education's "Partners in Progress" Back-to-School Bus Tour, highlighting the Obama administration's work to increase access and opportunity for students. The tour begins Monday, Sept. 8, in Atlanta, Georgia, and will continue through the Southeast region.