March 02, 2001

Hispanic higher education leaders will meet in the nation's capitol this week to urge Congress and the White House to focus more attention on the education needs of the nation's largest minority population.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao will join White House Counsel Albert Gonzalez and leading members of Congress to address the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) 2001 National Capitol Forum on Hispanic Higher Education April 2-4 at the Hotel Washington in Washington, D.C.

Presidents and chancellors of many of HACU's more than 270 member colleges and universities in every major state also will attend a conference that will introduce HACU's 2001 Legislative Agenda for the 107th Congress. This comprehensive agenda proposes significant new federal spending increases for education initiatives spanning kindergarten through graduate school.

"New reports from the 2000 Census provide a compelling new urgency to our agenda to promote the higher education needs of a population group that has been ignored too many times when it comes to national spending priorities," said HACU President and CEO Antonio Flores. "The numbers are on our side now."

Hispanics, the country's youngest and fastest-growing minority population, had not been anticipated to exceed their status as second-largest minority population until 2005. Initial reports this month from the U.S. Census Bureau on the 2000 population count show that Hispanics already are the nation's largest minority population.

"By sheer numbers alone, it is all too clear that the nation's economic and social success will hinge on the academic and career success of our Hispanic communities. Yet, in this high skills economy, Hispanics still suffer the lowest high school and college completion rates," Flores said. "Congress must be convinced to address these challenges now."

HACU represents more than 270 colleges and universities. For more information, contact HACU Public Affairs Director Aileen Salinas at 210/693-3805 ext. 3242 (asalinas@hacu.net). Or visit www.hacu.net.

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