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The Hispanic Scholarship Fund: Helping make college dreams come true

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Did you know that Hispanics now make up 25% of public high school students in the U.S.? Or that despite the fact that only 14.5% of Hispanics aged 25 or older currently hold a bachelor’s degree, the share of Hispanic high school graduates enrolled in college reached an all-time high in 2012? In fact, that same year, high school drop-outs among this group reached an all-time low.

Despite this tremendous progress, the issue of Hispanic student access to education is complex – with big implications for jobs, economic growth and national competitiveness.

I recently read that Latinos are more likely than the general public to say that a college degree is a key to life success. But, according to Mauricio Calvo, Executive Director of Latino Memphis, enthusiasm alone cannot overcome challenges Hispanic families and students face, such as struggling to understand the college application process and costs, low levels of academic readiness, and hurdles related to immigration reform.

As a resident of Memphis, where Latinos are the city’s fastest growing population, and in my role in FedEx Corporate Citizenship overseeing our company’s commitment to education, I’ve learned a lot about the challenge of Latino access to education, and I’m excited by some of the solutions helping to make a difference.

For the past decade, FedEx has supported the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) and its vision that every Latino household will have at least one college graduate. We currently support 20 FedEx HSF Scholars, 75% of whom are the first in their families to go to college and who attend schools including Stanford, Yale and Notre Dame.

In addition, we support HSF College 101 Workshops across the country to spread the word and educate Hispanic students and their parents about the value and affordability of a college education.

FedEx is funding five such workshops in 2013, including one that was hosted on September 28th in Memphis. The workshop represents part of our city’s larger commitment to providing access and equity in education for Hispanics. According to Fred Turverey, Director, Memphis Talent Divided, a 1% increase in college attainment can lead to $1 billion in economic impact for Memphis.

"FedEx is a pioneer in helping take the first steps to bring Hispanic-focused organizations to Memphis to help us meet this goal,” said Mr. Calvo of the inaugural HSF College 101 Workshop.

One of my favorite moments of the workshop was hearing from Tom Lopez, Managing Director of Corporate Safety, Health & Fire Prevention at FedEx tell the story of how his father, a native of Colombia, traveled to the U.S. to attend college and was the first in his family to graduate. A generation later, Tom and his five sisters all not only have undergraduate, but graduate degrees as well.

Tom’s story reinforced why the work we do is so important and why I’m so proud to be a part of it. For any team members interested in getting involved in supporting Hispanic achievement and success at FedEx and in our communities, check out the FedEx Hispanic Network: http://collab.purplehub.fedex.com/communities/hispanic%20american%20network%20at%20fedex/SitePages/teamhome.aspx for information and opportunities.

 Source for all stats: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/09/04/hispanic-college-enrollment-rate-surpasses-whites-for-the-first-time/

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