WASHINGTON -- Univision, a Spanish-language television network, launched its “Es El Momento” (the moment is now) campaign, which focuses on informing the Hispanic community of the importance of post-secondary education.
“We see education as being the thing that really levels the playing field in this country,” said Melinda Gates, whose Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is supporting the campaign.
“Kids have to have the aspiration of going on to college and that’s what we’re trying to do today, to bring that dialogue into the home,” she said.
Univision wants to get more Hispanic students into colleges by talking to their parents and helping them climb over obstacles such as financial aid.
“Everyone recognizes that parental support is important. But we know that parents face obstacles including the real hurdle of the economic situation that requires their children to work,” said Cesar Conde, president of Univision Networks.
Conde added that Univision hopes to simplify the American education system and break it down step by step for Hispanic parents.
Today, 55 percent of Hispanic students graduate high school compared to 69 percent for non-Hispanic students.
Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., said enrolling more Latino students into post-secondary institutions is the students’ responsibility.
“The key is to get them to college. How do we achieve that dream?” he asked.
“To let them understand that the sacrifice today for a better future tomorrow, that’s the key.”
Diaz-Balart said college degrees were the most important tool to success.
“There is no more important endeavor than education,” he said.
“If we can get them to college, our wonderful youth, they’re going to be fine. They’re going to be leaders.”
Dr. Eduardo Padron, president of Miami Dade College in Florida, called education an “American imperative” saying, “Hispanic families must come to the conclusion that the real passport to the middle class is a good education.”
He added that more than 80 percent of new jobs created in the United States require post-secondary education.
“Those who don’t receive post-secondary education will be relegated to a life of poverty,” he said.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan added to Padron’s comment, saying the economy would benefit from more college degrees.
“We have to educate our way to a better economy. There are no good jobs for high school dropouts or even high school graduates,” he said.
“Some education beyond high school has to be a goal for every single child in this country.”
Univision has partnered with several other organizations to reach its goal of improving education achievement.
Duncan said this cooperation was “the only way to get far in education in this country.”
He said he and his staff could only skim the surface, and that Univision has access to communities and homes.
Univision is currently broadcasting two public service announcements with hopes of reaching out to more people.