2014 Ford Driving Dreams Through Education Grantees

In 2014, eight LULAC Councils were selected to receive $20,000 each over two-years to implement a local dropout prevention program in partnership with an educational entity. In addition, two veteran LULAC Councils (grantees from 2012-2014) were selected to receive additional funding for the continuation of their exemplary programs for a third academic year.

2014 Ford Driving Dreams Grantee Recipients


Council #2848 – Anaheim, CA
Council President: Yvonne Gonzalez Duncan

The Independent Learning Center at Anaheim High School is a program created to help combat the high school dropout rates by retrieving dropouts and personalizing learning experiences with a web based curriculum. Anaheim has the second largest Hispanic/Latino population in Orange County (after Santa Ana). Many students in Anaheim enter high school reading below grade level and are also behind in their math studies, as well as language skills-because of this, student are often sent to remedial courses. This can be directly linked to the graduation rate of Latino/Hispanic students in Orange County which is only 77.7%, the lowest rate out of any of the other ethnic groups. 120 students get chosen per year for this program and the students will have the option for flexible school hours to obtain their graduation goals.

This program will make sure the students stay on track to graduate, provide career exploration, and career preparation opportunities. Additionally, the program provides a personalized learning experience for students, helping keep them engaged and getting them on the right track to graduation. In June 2013 there were 50 students who graduated from the ILC. Students will also receive a social-emotional component that addresses and acknowledges their needs to help them succeed. By focusing on these components along with mentoring, parent meetings, field experiences and strong partners from Chapman University, California State University Fullerton, and the Anaheim/Fullerton Family Resource Center, students have a myriad of resources at their fingertips that they once did not. The partnerships will also help by providing additional resources for the students.


Council #950 – Atlanta, GA
Council President: Art Bedard

Nationwide Latinos have some of the lowest graduation rates among any racial or ethnic group and in Georgia the dropout rate sits at 42% among Latinos. In metro Atlanta, the Latino population has an average education attainment level of just 9.7 years. This council partnered with the Latin American Association to implement The Latino Youth Academic Achievement Initiative, which will strengthen students reading, writing, math, and science skills by identifying the learning needs of each student while incorporating longitudinal tracking of student cohorts. The program will also increase students reading, writing, math and science skills by having educators implement best practices to work with Latino youth in the classroom.

More than 20 high school students will be chosen from two middle schools to participate in this program. During the school year they will meet 3 times a week and then transition to a 6 week summer program. This program will also incorporate enrichment activities, career and college readiness, tutoring, mentoring, community service, and leadership development. This Latino Youth Academic Achievement Initiative will also try to incorporate families to case management services in order to promote access to community resources for the overall well-being of the student.


Council # 5238 – Chicago, IL
Council President: Caroline Sanchez Crozier

This program known as the “Achieve the Dream...Join Our Team” program will provide tools and resources to help student’s graduate high school. The program is based in the community surrounding the communities of Pilsen and Little Village, which are predominantly Latino (over 50% are Mexican-Americans in the Pilsen community and over 80% in the Little Village community). This council will work in partnership with Farragut Career Academy to provide mentorship support along with other support for the students. This program will support 25 high school students in mentoring, academic support, and leadership. In order to meet these three components these students will be meeting weekly and also participate in two field trips to university and community college campuses. These students will also be working with elementary school students to publish their own E-book. Reaching out to parents is also a key point in this program, so that parents will be involved in their child’s high school experience. Both parents and students will be provided with support in improving their English Language skills. This program will help better equip the students in achieving a high school degree along with other skills.

Council #5284 – Chicago, IL LNESC
Council President: Blanca Vargas

LNESC, TCEP, and LULAC Council #5284 have fused together to create a program that helps combat the Latino high school dropout rate. Additional partnerships for this program include STEM Stars and Universidad Popular who will also help with additional resources for students. The community that the council is based in, located in Central Chicago, is 62.8% Latino, with many families living below the poverty line, unemployment being a pervasive problem and a median household income of only $29, 736. In terms of education levels among those in the communities the statistics paint an even direr picture of the need for this program-among residents who are 18-24 years of age, 32.6% have an education level below the level of a high school graduate and only 4.1% have completed a bachelor’s degree or higher.

More than 20 students will be recruited for this program consisting of 9th and 10th graders. The students will be meeting weekly in order to have access to activities and programs provided by this program. This program will implement fun and engaging activities that will help improve student’s academic skills. Additionally students will have access to tutoring and homework assistance. The students will be exposed to technology instruction and academic support services. Students will have opportunity to engage in services that involve financial aid, for those who see college as an option. Activities included in this program were chosen due to their effectiveness in reducing juvenile delinquency, youth involvement in gangs, improve interpersonal relationships, increase on time promotion to the next grade level, and to overall improve their academic performance in order to graduate high school.


Council #5001 – South Bend, IN
Council President: Eliud Villanueva

To respond to the high school dropout crisis, Council #5001 has implemented the program ¡Adelante! This program will provide academic support, enrichment, leadership, social skills, recreation, and parental support. The students that will be recruited for this program will consist of 7th graders up until 12th graders. Many of these students come from families whose family income primarily falls below the 125% poverty line, and are considered high-risk students to drop-out of high school. This program will function Monday to Thursday from 4pm to 6pm during the school year. Additional resources from this program include scholarships as incentives by some partners. Some of the partners include; United Way of St. Joseph County, South Bend Community School Bilingual Education, St. Adalbert’s Church, Saint Joseph Medical Center, and the Latino Task Force for Education. The aims of the program are to empower Latino youth and respond to the needs of Latino students and their families in and out of the classroom. This is key, especially because South Bend’s graduation rate for Latinos is just under 70% throughout the public school. The program will be based off of four main pillars: Academic Support, providing opportunities for enrichment and leadership, advocating for building social skills and recreation opportunities and providing parental support. Overall this program will create individual and community success in a positive, bi-lingual, safe and welcoming environment for the students.


Council #21006 – Silver Spring, MD
Council President: Dr. Yvette Butler
2012-2014 Grant Recipient

LULAC and GapBuster, a volunteer-based program that has helped more than 2,000 students locally reach their academic dreams, will expand their Leaders-in-Training (LIT) program to include 30 Hispanic ninth-grade students. The program will provide much needed resources and educational opportunities to at-risk youth in Prince George’s County Maryland students in Districts 1,2 and 3-some of the highest need areas in the area. The LIT program supplements the academic needs of at-risk and/or potential gang involved minorities through a LifeSkills curriculum. This research-validated substance abuse prevention program reduces the risk of alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse. They will also offer academic support in math and language arts through twice weekly two-hour academic tutoring, as well as a focus on STEM. Volunteers from the University of Maryland and the Department of Agriculture offices will mentor students for a weekly one-hour session. The students will also participate in at least four college tours, several enriching field trips, and four community service events.


Council #23047 – Queens, NY
Council President: Sylvia Mata
2012-2014 Grant Recipient

This after-school program will enforce Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) through educational workshops focused on the use of technology and art. The council will partner with Fluid New Media Labs, a New York City-based project that is part of a not-for-profit organization supporting, producing, and promoting creative works in collaboration with multimedia artists and a participatory audience. Students will learn about STEM through activities that use digital media, which will get students engaged in high school activities. Leadership workshops, field trips to museums and area colleges, career exploration opportunities, and incentives for students will enhance the program. They will also organize parental involvement workshops to help parents be strategic for their children’s college education.


Council #4968 – Houston, TX LNESC
Council President: Rose Ann Blanco

According to the US Census Bureau American Community Survey 2008-2012 5-year Estimates, only 60.% of the target area population possesses a high school diploma or higher, and at age 18 and over only 6.4% are enrolled in college or graduate school. Council #4968 is working to change that. This program has two model functions in order to help combat the high school dropout rates. The functions consist of secondary school completion and enrollment in postsecondary education and the students of this program will meet weekly with academic help. The final goal is the attainment of a college degree or certificate. The services offered to students are designed in modules and incorporate three groups of participants. This program will recruit 25 students to be implemented by LNESC staff and LULAC volunteers. Not only will this program be fused with LNESC and LULAC, but they will also be partnered with Cesar Chavez High School. Students will have access to computers and also be exposed to social media in order to help strengthen personal relationships and to have easy access to different avenues of communication.


Council #44040 – South Jordan, UT
Council President: Aracely Gonzalez

This council’s program is the Teens Act Program that will address the high school dropout rate of the Latino population. In 2012 Utah’s overall dropout rate was about 20% with almost 8,000 dropouts. The school boundaries of Provo High School and Independence high school are particularly at-risk with over 20 students between both of the schools dropping out in 2012. The Teens Act Program operates at Provo High School and Independence High School and hopes to expand to an elementary school to combat the dropout rate early. Students who are recruited usually have a low GPA, low attendance rate, qualify for free or reduced lunch, or would be first in their family to attend college. This program will expose students to college preparation classes, after school mentoring, and parental support programs. This program will attempt to expand to an elementary school in order to start the high school dropout prevention process earlier. Their partnerships include Brigham Young University, Gear Up/Utah Valley University, and public school administrators that will help provide additional opportunities for students. The Teens Act Program will focus their efforts to those teens who are under-served in their community. The program will not just focus on the dropout rate, but it will also encourage students to strive for higher education. The high quality mentoring that the program provides will help change the students’ lives forever.


Council #334 – Milwaukee, WI
Council President: Joe Villmow

The city of Milwaukee has seen a growth in the Hispanic population along with high dropout rates among Hispanic high school students. In Milwaukee, African-American and Hispanic/Latino high school students graduated at a rate between 64% and 68% respectively, compared to 75% of their white counterparts (Milwaukee Public Schools Division of Research and Assessment, 2012). During 2013 the Hispanic population was the largest growing locally in Milwaukee and nationally, yet Hispanics still had the lowest high school graduation rate (D’Andrea 2013). In order to combat these high dropout rates, LULAC #334 has partnered with Carmen High School of Science and Technology (CHSST). This partnership will help develop students into young leaders by exposing them to professional mentoring, networking, and community service opportunities. The program will also emphasize and focus on developing professionalism, communication, problem-solving skills and teamwork skills. Additionally, it will also help students take the next step towards a college education by offering four annual scholarships.

Council #334 of out Milwaukee will be targeting 20 Hispanic teens in between the 9th and12th grade. These opportunities will help create the soft skills, confidence and other tools needed to be successful in their schools, their career, and overall their life.