S.T.A.R. Academic Center

S.T.A.R. Academic Center

Ford Motor Company Fund and the League of United Latin American Citizens have announced the 2013 Ford Driving Dreams Through Education grantees. Eight winning LULAC councils each receive $20,000 over two school years to implement a high school dropout prevention program in partnership with an educational entity.

Each winning council will implement programs that uniquely address its local dropout crisis using student engagement activities ranging from music to mentoring. This year’s winners are:

  • Albuquerque, N.M. – Council No. 8035
  • Austin, Texas – Council No. 4933
  • Bartow, Fla. – Council No. 7227
  • El Paso, Texas – Council No. 8
  • Plano, Texas – Council No. 4537
  • Pueblo, Colo. – Council No. 3043
  • San Antonio, Texas – Council No. 4619
  • Tucson, Ariz. – Council No. 1057

Another two councils – Council No. 39000 in Dayton, Ohio, and Council No. 9607 in Kansas City, Mo. – were selected from the 2011 recipients to receive an additional $10,000 to continue their programs.

Coming this school year in Tucson, the program will compensate for some of the financial burdens that prevent students from doing their best.

20 students at the S.T.A.R. Academy will be chosen to receive stipends for personal items, like bus passes or prescription eye glasses. In return, the students must uphold an 80-percent attendance record and maintain at least a C average in school.

A number of classes and workshops will also be available for students to utilize. 

“Ford Driving Dreams Through Education has encouraged more than 700 students to stay in school, graduate on time and pursue higher education,” said Joedis Avila, manager of community outreach, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. “Programs like this help ensure young people have the education they need to one day compete in our global economy.”

Recent studies indicate that while dropout rates are decreasing and college enrollment is increasing for Hispanics, Hispanic youth continue to lag behind white youth in both measures.

In 2011 about 14 percent of Hispanics, ages 16 to 24, were high school dropouts according to the Pew Research Center. In 2000 this rate was double – or 28 percent. For white students, the rate was 5 percent in 2011 and about 7 percent in 2000.

“Ford Driving Dreams Through Education helped me graduate on time, and I am thankful to LULAC and Ford for their commitment to the program,” said Mario Machado, 19, a program participant who graduated in May from J.C. Harmon High School in Kansas City, Kan. “Thanks to the Ford Driving Dreams program, I now plan to major in legal interpreting at Johnson County Community College. I hope after the two-year program, I can get a job as a translator in the judicial system and help those who don’t know English or cannot explain to a court what they are going through.”

Hispanic students are the fastest-growing segment of the public school population. Nearly one in five public school students is Hispanic.

“In the past decade, Hispanic dropout rates have decreased by half, and that’s something to be proud of,” said LULAC National Executive Director Brent Wilkes. “We must work together to continue this positive trend.”

“People need access to a high-quality education so they can compete at a global level. That’s why our work with Ford Motor Company Fund is critical to our country’s success,” Wilkes added.

Ford Driving Dreams Through Education started in 2010, and to date 28 grant recipients have worked to keep students on the road to graduation. The grant selection process considers the best practices for engaging students, including mentorship programs, after-school volunteer and extracurricular programs, and parental involvement.

The winning programs also must be sustainable, reflect the local education landscape, and rely on partnerships with local education institutions.

The eight new LULAC councils will begin implementing their programs this fall, and the two model councils will continue their existing programs. For more information on Ford Driving Dreams, visit www.lulac.org/ford.

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