gtk-swaImproving College Success For Latinos

At Southwest Airlines, education is a vital part of our unique Culture. Our focus on education encompasses both our Employees and our Customers. For our Employees, one resource we provide is the Southwest Airlines University for People (U4P), located at our Headquarters in Dallas. Although the U4P is in its 27th year, the goal of the U4P has remained the same—to provide all Southwest Airlines Employees the opportunity for personal growth and the ability to reach their full potential. It is important for us to offer our Employees not only the training they need to do their jobs, but also the training they want to advance their careers. In addition to our internal training programs, we also encourage Employees to attend external training and further specialize in their respective fields.


We are proud to encourage our Employees to keep learning, but our educational focus doesn’t stop there. Southwest Airlines currently has community partnerships with more than 150 organizations that focus on education, including nearly 40 organizations that focus on education in the Latino community. Education is a key ingredient for a successful future and that’s why we work with organizations throughout the country to ensure that the people in the communities we serve have access to a quality education.

Excelencia in Education is a great example of an organization that recognizes the importance of educating our Latino youth, and we are proud to support their important work.


Excelencia in Education

Improving College Success For Latinos

The evidence is clear: America cannot achieve the globally competitive workforce of the future without improving college completion among Latinos. As our nation’s fastest growing and youngest ethnic group, Latinos already make up nearly one quarter of elementary, middle and high school students and will have to earn 5.5 million college degrees over the next seven years to put America back on top.

These are some of the basic facts that drive Excelencia in Education, a national not for profit organization, to develop and promote solutions to accelerate Latino student success in higher education. Launched in Washington, D.C., in 2004 by a former executive director and deputy director of the White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, Excelencia in Education has become the trusted source for what works to accelerate college success among Latinos.

“While some believe a focus on race and ethnicity divides us as a society, we believe acknowledging racial and ethnic trends describes our society in constructive ways,” Sarita Brown, president of Excelencia in Education tells Giving Back Magazine. “Providing analysis, data and strategies through our website, publications, programs and action network, Excelencia strives to support the development of more effective policies, engage diverse stakeholders and bring to scale proven strategies to better serve Latino students and all students.”

That’s why Excelencia in Education was one of just 16 organizations, and the only organization focused on Latinos, recently selected by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help it develop proposals to reimagine and redesign the federal financial aid system.

Deborah Santiago, Excelencia’s vice president for policy and research, focuses on critical higher educational issues and leads the development of practical analysis to support positive change. This includes examining the role of Hispanic-serving institutions in providing higher educational opportunities, institutions that graduate significant numbers of Latinos with degrees in areas such as health, and science, mathematics and engineering, and state-by-state analysis of Latino College Completion.

“Real progress requires bringing together education leaders, policy makers, Latino advocacy, community, business and philanthropic leaders and many others to exchange ideas, form consensus and to take aligned actions to improve Latino college success,” said Brown. “Southwest Airlines is an exemplar about American businesses investing in the Latino community. We are honored that in 2012 Excelencia became their partner to engage stakeholders across America to identify and recognize promising practices that increase college success among Latinos.”

Each year hundreds of educators, business leaders and concerned citizens respond to the call for nominations from Excelencia in Education. A committee of experts from diverse national organizations selects the top programs as the year’s Examples of Excelencia. Representatives are flown to the nation’s capital to receive recognition, a financial award of $5,000 and inclusion in the compendium of What Works for Latino Students in Higher Education.

Following the celebration, college and university professionals and supporters participate in Achieving LAtino Student Success (or ALASS, pronounced as the Spanish for “wings”) workshop to collaborate on institutional practices, policies and leadership efforts to accelerate Latino student success.

“We are proud to support Excelencia in Education’s critical work through this valuable partnership,” said Lidia S. Martinez, manager of community affairs and grassroots for Southwest Airlines. “Southwest Airlines understands that America’s future success is closely tied to the educational success of the Latino community, and highlighting successful programs is an important way spread practices that can increase Latino college completion.”