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Local higher education program for Latinx students receives national recognition

 Audio File The West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce opens its 'Building Bridges Through Education' fellowship application process.
West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

The Building Bridges Through Education Program, fueled by the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, has been selected as a finalist in Excelencia in Education’s national search for what works in Latinx student success. The fellowship program is one of 21 finalists chosen out of 145 applicants across the United States.

“It leaves me speechless. I’m not one to not have words but it really is an honor,” BBTE Program Manager, Jessica Ledesma said.

Excelencia in Education, is a premier authority on efforts accelerating Latino student success in higher education. Examples of Excelencia was created in 2005 and is the country’s only national effort to identify, aggregate and promote evidence-based practices improving Latino student success in higher education.

"Examples of Excelencia identifies evidence-based programs that show, with intentionality and impact, what it means to truly serve Latino students and not just enroll them," said Deborah Santiago, Cofounder and CEO, Excelencia in Education.

Building Bridges Through Education was formed around two an a half years ago and aims to advance Michigan Latinx college talent by bridging college and career through connections and development, with a goal of growing a dynamic and inclusive workforce in the state. With the introduction of its fellowship program, which allows students to engage with local businesses, its job placement rate for students in the program rose from 12% to 72%.

"As a Latina born and raised in Michigan, knowing that there’s been a struggle for me to find a place and belonging and career placement, this recognition really makes me proud of being from Michigan and being able to essentially lead this work and create a place of belonging for the Latino community," Ledesma said adding, "...“Michigan corporations and Michigan universities getting behind an organization, like the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, giving us the okay to essentially lead this through their support to make this impact within the Latino community, that is the definitions of equity."

Building Bridges Through Education joins 21 finalists out of 145 entries for the Examples of Excelencia Award Recognition. Four programs will be chosen as winners in October.

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