Yesterday was a profoundly interesting day. I was invited to attend the #LATISM (Latinos in Social Media)-hosted #Latino2 event at the Computer History Museum in Mountain (Silicon Valley.) In one day, I was able to:
- enjoy a panel of six Latina engineers sharing knowledge, a truly unusual, beautiful sight
- directly participate in the Kiva-like process of idea sharing led by Juan Sepulveda, Executive Director of the White House Educational Excellence for Hispanics Initiative
- meet 160 like-minded, tech-savvy, action-oriented, educated Latinos and focus on the issue we most care about
- see the results of our brainstorming via live Twitter feed that will be compiled and shared with President Obama and (hopefully) Arnie Duncan. You can see the list of ideas we collectively put forth here on Twitter #HispanicEd.
- speak publicly again about my Two by 2020 Mentoring Challenge wake-up-call article (with shocking statistics we MUST understand) and its call to action for all Americans.
This last point was especially important and resonated with many. I first introduced the idea and call to action at Stanford two weeks ago as I launched my book. In the book, ten Latino innovators and entrepreneurs hold 19 degrees. Several of those leaders trace their degrees (and their life’s success) to a non-Latino mentor that showed up and intervened against strong cultural and community forces directing them away from college. Many in the audience yesterday told this story too. This is my story as well.
I strongly stated yesterday that I believe nothing else will have the kind of impact and cause the kind of changes we need immediately. With one great, national PSA (public service announcement) showcasing a successful Latina, stating that it was her non-Latino mentor that changed her life by steering and guiding her to pursue higher education, we can engage millions of Americans to seek a young Latino and change his/her life. It’s the only thing that has ever worked; we must multiply and accelerate mentorship for young Latinos NOW. Many ideas put forth will never work because of political realities; this idea has no opposition. Who opposes increased mentoring of young Latinos who desperately need it?
We college-educated Latinos will of course continue to mentor, but only 12% of us have at least a two-year college degree. The rest of America needs to join in, understand the gravity of the numbers and understand that it’s a national (not Latino) crisis affecting our short and long-term competitiveness. When they do, they can (and will) intentionally show up to change a young Latino life.
I’m deeply grateful to Giovanni, Elma, Ana and the entire team that made this event possible and unique. To be able to share our ideas, passions and solutions with the White House was a blessing.
Now, we will be watching closely to see what is done with all these great ideas. We also look forward to working together with Mr. Sepulveda and Mr. Rico for the long term to make a difference for our severely undereducated community.