Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wal-Mart Foundation Provides $1.65 Million for ASPIRA to Address U.S. Latino Dropout Rate

Press Release
Jun 23, 2009

CHICAGO, June 23, 2009 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The ASPIRA Association announced a $1.65 million grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation to significantly expand its ASPIRA Clubs, a Latino youth leadership dropout prevention model to stem the exceedingly high dropout rate among our nation's youth.

The dropout rate among Latino youth, at over 40 percent, is the highest of any group in the country; triple the rate of white students. In many U.S. inner-city schools, the dropout rate is over 80%. Almost half of Latinos over the age of 25 have not graduated from high school. Since the Hispanic population is the fastest growing -- and youngest -- ethnic group in the country, the long-term implications of their high dropout rate on the nation's future economic competitiveness and social well-being cannot be overstated.

"This very generous grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation will allow ASPIRA to expand its signature program, the ASPIRA Clubs, to thousands of Latino youth -- not only in the seven states and Puerto Rico in which ASPIRA currently operates, but across the nation to ensure thousands of students complete high school and pursue higher levels of education," said Ronald Blackburn-Moreno, president and CEO of ASPIRA. "We are very proud of our partnership with the Wal-Mart Foundation and grateful for their support. It demonstrates Wal-Mart's strong commitment to the Latino community and to the education of our nation's youth. We will now be able to work with organizations across the country to bring this model to schools and communities that are struggling to increase the graduation rates of Latino students."

According to Blackburn-Moreno, today over 33 percent of U.S. Latinos are under 18 years of age, represent over 20 percent of all students enrolled in U.S. schools, and by 2050, they will constitute 25 percent of our country's workforce. "Unless we address and correct this situation the U.S. will not be able to sustain its competitive edge in a 21st century economy with almost 20% of its population undereducated," he explained.

"For almost 50 years, the ASPIRA Leadership Clubs in schools have been an effective model to ensure Latino students graduate from school and go on to college," said Margaret McKenna, president of the Wal-Mart Foundation. "We're proud to provide funding from the Wal-Mart Foundation to assure the continued success of ASPIRA Clubs and -- more importantly -- the continued success of Latino youth."

"The challenge facing ASPIRA over the years is the capacity to truly expand the program nationally, to bring it to schools and communities with high concentrations of low-income Latino students so we can have a meaningful impact on this national problem," said Blackburn-Moreno.

About the ASPIRA Association

The ASPIRA Association is the largest national Latino organization in the country and the only one dedicated exclusively to the education of Latin youth. Founded in 1961, ASPIRA's core program has been the ASPIRA Leadership Clubs in schools. In addition, ASPIRA provides a host of after-school programs including tutoring, mentoring, math and science enrichment programs, financial literacy, parental engagement and access and training in technology, in addition to operating nine charter schools.

About Philanthropy at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and the Wal-Mart Foundation are proud to support the charitable causes that are important to customers and associates in their own neighborhoods. Through its philanthropic programs and partnerships, the Wal-Mart Foundation funds initiatives focused on creating opportunities in education, workforce development, economic opportunity, environmental sustainability, and health and wellness. From February 1, 2008 through January 31, 2009, Wal-Mart - and its domestic and international Foundations - gave more than $423 million in cash and in-kind gifts globally. To learn more, visit

SOURCE ASPIRA Association, Inc.

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