Latino Teen Summit

October 2010
Maine West - English - Ms. Claudia C. Rueda-Alvarez
Foundation Award: $750

Latino Teen Summit’s purpose is to bring together freshmen and sophomore Latino/Hispanic high school students from Maine East, Maine West, Glenbrook South, Rolling Meadows, Wheeling, Hersey, Elk Grove, Prospect, Buffalo Grove, and Palatine, Schaumburg, and Barrington high schools. Students will meet with Latino professionals and college students to motivate and encourage them to stay in school and pursue higher education. As first generation college students, we find that our Latino youth need these professionals and college students as role models. We hope to motivate the students to continue to stay in school and set goals beyond high school. We also would like to increase the number of Latino students who apply to colleges and universities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau Department of Hispanic Statistics and as educators, we know that our Latino youth are twice as likely to drop out of high school than any other group. In fact, the drop out rate for Latinos is 30 % compared to 7% for Caucasians (U. S. Bureau of Census) Latino students also tend to drop out at an earlier age than other groups. Whereas most students drop out during their junior year of high school, Latino students drop out at the end of freshmen year or during their sophomore year; hence the need to address the students early in their high school education. 

This school year, eleven high school representatives from the participating schools and two college representatives, from Harper and Oakton Community College, are pulling our resources together to provide the ninth annual Latino Summit. The summit will take place at Harper College. The past eight Latino Summits have been considered a huge success based upon the evaluations received. More than 350 freshmen students participated in the Latino Summit. Approximately 50 Latino professionals from over 30 sectors of industry represented their fields of study. We also had over 40 current Latino/Hispanic college students from premier colleges and universities share their experiences. As part of the program, 7 college/university representatives provided the students with information about their respective schools. Three years ago we began the tradition of offering scholarships to deserving Latino seniors. This year we would like to continue the tradition of awarding scholarships to deserving college-bound graduates who participated in the Latino Summit their freshman or sophomore year in high school. Therefore, we are working on raising funds through a networking event on September 30th 2010. The Latino Summit program is costly and for the initial Summit a number of the committee members used their own personal money as well as school district monies to fund the event. Due to financial constraints, our districts will not provide us with the support we need. We are asking for your support and help to make Latino Teen Summit a reality.

All the professionals participating in this event, as well as the college students volunteered their time. Our goal is to encourage the students to stay in school and graduate. If we can keep them in school, help them to graduate and expose them to higher education, we will all benefit from a better-educated society. We will also encourage volunteerism from our graduates as they too can serve as role models for younger students.