June 01, 2015. Philadelphia, PA. – In a matter of weeks, clergy leaders from the Hispanic faith community will convene in Washington D.C. under the leadership of Esperanza and the Rev. Luis Cortes, Jr., to discuss issues of priority and prevalence to the growing Hispanic community in the United States. Among items on the agenda will be the political leadership of our country, and the representation on the national political agenda of issues of importance to the Hispanic community, such as education, immigration, housing, and the economy.
The National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast and Conference could not come at a better time—Education reform for Hispanics and other minorities is a pressing issue in dire need of discussion leading up to the 2016 election. A record 25.2 million Latinos were eligible to vote in the 2014 midterm elections, making up 11% of all eligible voters nationwide. Yet despite being the largest and fastest growing minority group in the U.S., Latinos have the lowest education attainment levels.
- Minority and poor students are 70 percent more likely than their white and affluent peers to have a teacher who is not certified in math, English, science and social studies teaching them these four core subjects.
- The achievement gap between Hispanic and white fourth-graders taking mathematics exams has largely remained unchanged since 1990 at 21 points, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
- The achievement gap is larger when it comes to reading comprehension, with white students tending to perform better than their Hispanic fourth-grade peers by roughly 26 points.
- Whites earn 74 percent of all associate degrees, compared with Hispanics at 9 percent.
- Latino teachers represent less than 8 percent of all U.S. educators.
- A mere two Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) are responsible for preparing more than 90 percent of the nation’s Hispanic/Latino teachers.
To address this need, Esperanza founded both Esperanza Academy Charter School and Esperanza College in 2000. Since then, Esperanza Academy has been successfully educating a student body that is 95 percent Latino and 5 percent African American as well as 80 percent low-income. 94 percent of Esperanza Academy students graduate on time and 68 percent enroll in college. The school has been recognized by the White House as a best-practice model in a 2010 report produced by the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. In 2013, US News and World Report ranked Esperanza Academy in the top 9% of all schools at both the state and national level. Esperanza College has been granting Associate’s degrees in a variety of concentrations to Hispanic students as a branch campus of Eastern University, graduating 65 percent of students on time (compared to a national average of around 15 percent at comparable two-year institutions such as community colleges).
“Our nation’s future is in our children’s education,” states Rev. Luis Cortes, President of Esperanza, “More than ever, we need to recognize that Hispanic youth are the next wave of leadership, and it is imperative that we provide them with equal opportunity and education to make a difference.”
The event gathers nearly 600 Latino faith and community leaders from around 35 states to Washington, D.C., making it one of the largest gatherings of Hispanic Clergy from across the nation. Since 2002, the event has featured prominent speakers from both the Republican and the Democratic parties and has been keynoted by President George W. Bush on six occasions, President Barack Obama twice.
Highlights of this year’s conference include:
- Educational workshops with high-level content experts
- Networking dinner presenting the latest research on the growth and impact of the Hispanic community
- Discussion with members of Congress on Capitol Hill about current issues pertaining to the Hispanic community
- Musical celebration featuring many of today’s most renowned Hispanic Evangelical gospel artists.
This year, President Barack Obama is again invited to attend the Washington D.C. event, along with members of his Cabinet, Congress, and other distinguished guests, including presidential candidates. Among confirmed speakers for the event are Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Chair of the Democratic National Committee, and Reince Priebus, Chair of the Republican National Committee.
Esperanza, the premiere Hispanic Evangelical faith-based network in the country, was founded in 1987 by the Rev. Luis Cortés Jr. and the Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia and vicinity. With a national network of over 13,000 Hispanic congregations, faith and community based agencies, Esperanza is a leading voice for Hispanics in America. To read more, please visit www.esperanza.us.