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The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning Unveils Major Initiative to Increase Degree Attainment Among Latino Adult Students

Partnership with Excelencia in Education, backed by philanthropic funding, provides Hispanic Serving Institutions across the country with critical support to improve outcomes for part-time and working Latino students

CHICAGO, Sept. 11, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), in partnership with Excelencia in Education, today announced a new effort to help Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) increase the number of degrees awarded to adult Latino students. Funded by The Kresge Foundation, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates and Greater Texas Foundation, the initiative will provide 15 HSIs with diagnostic tools and programmatic support to implement researched-based practices to improve outcomes for the institutions' rapidly growing populations of adult Latino students.

Over the last decade, the percentage of younger Latino students who earned a college credential has increased by 9.4 percent. Yet, attainment among adult Latino students lags. Only 22.7 percent of Hispanics aged 25 or older have attained an associate's degree or higher, compared to 42.8 percent of their white peers. As an increasing number of today's careers demand degrees and credentials, this disparity is having disastrous consequences on career advancement prospects for Latinos.

"Adult learners face unique challenges, like work and family responsibilities, that can hinder degree or credential attainment. CAEL is committed to removing barriers that prevent adult Latino students from advancing in their education and their careers," said CAEL President Marie A. Cini. "We are proud to work with Excelencia in Education in the service of HSIs as they strengthen their adult learner experience. I'd like to especially thank The Kresge Foundation, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates and Greater Texas Foundation for their support of this important effort."

The initiative will employ CAEL's Adult Learner 360 diagnostic tool to identify areas for improving services for adult learners at the 15 selected HSIs. The Adult Learner 360 diagnostic tool consists of surveys for students, faculty and staff, and it is used to locate disconnects and find areas where institutions can improve their services for adult students. In addition, the HSIs will receive professional development for their staff through the CAEL Adult Learner 360 Academy. As these institutions implement plans to enhance their adult student support, they will also be granted access to CAEL tools and research as well as technical research from CAEL and Excelencia in Education.

"Fewer than one in four Latino adults has a college degree," said Excelencia in Education CEO Deborah A. Santiago. "The opportunity to partner with CAEL and institutions committed to improve their efforts with Latino adult students advances our shared national goals of accelerating Latino student success for a better educated workforce and citizenry."

Each foundation has committed grant support for HSIs within the regions they serve, including Texas, Wisconsin, California and Florida.

"HSIs need support to focus on the particular needs of adult Latino students, whose postsecondary experiences are different from students who transition directly from high school to college," said Caroline Altman Smith, deputy director of Kresge's Education Program. "We're thrilled to see the continued partnership between CAEL and Excelencia."

"Adults need access to the same higher education outcomes that younger students need, but it's vital that our higher education offerings reflect the reality that adult students have unique needs," said Amy Kerwin, vice president of community investments at Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates. "We're proud to support work that will help HSIs reflect those needs for their adult students."

"Just as it is critical to focus on supporting traditional age students, colleges must also ensure adult learners receive appropriate supports as they work toward their postsecondary goals," said Sue McMillin, president and CEO of Greater Texas Foundation. "We appreciate the opportunity to partner in this national initiative so Texas colleges and students may benefit from the strategic partnership between CAEL and Excelencia in Education focused on supporting adult learners."

This initiative furthers CAEL's commitment to adult Latino students. In 2014, CAEL published a study in partnership with Excelencia in Education, "Random Access: The Latino Experience with Prior Learning Assessment," which highlighted positive academic outcomes for Latino students who take advantage of prior learning assessment, a method of earning college credit for demonstration of prior learning.

About the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL)
Founded in 1974, CAEL is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that assists adults with their educational endeavors, finding practical ways to help them earn college credit for learning acquired through life and work experiences toward the completion of a postsecondary degree. CAEL, an affiliate of Strada Education NetworkSM , works with the public sector, private sector industries and higher education institutions to ensure that adult students receive the most efficient training and education to occupy a meaningful professional place in a 21st century economy. For more information, visit www.cael.org.

About Excelencia in Education
Excelencia in Education accelerates Latino student success in higher education by promoting Latino student achievement, conducting analysis to inform educational policies, and advancing institutional practices while collaborating with those committed and ready to meet our mission. Launched in 2004 in the nation's capital, Excelencia is building a network of results-oriented educators and policymakers to address the U.S. economy's need for a highly educated workforce and engaged civic leadership. For more information, visit: www.EdExcelencia.org.

About Great Lakes
Knowing that education has the power to change lives for the better, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates was established as a nonprofit group focused on a single objective: helping students nationwide prepare for and succeed in postsecondary education and student loan repayment. As a leading federal student loan guarantor, Great Lakes provides information, tools and counseling to 3 million borrowers nationwide. The group's earnings support one of the largest and most respected education philanthropy programs in the country. Since 2006, Great Lakes has committed nearly $260 million in grant funding to promote higher education access and completion for students of color, students from low-income households and first-generation students. For additional information, visit community.mygreatlakes.org.

About The Kresge Foundation
The Kresge Foundation was founded in 1924 to promote human progress. Today, Kresge fulfills that mission by building and strengthening pathways to opportunity for low-income people in America's cities, seeking to dismantle structural and systemic barriers to equality and justice. Using a full array of grant, loan, and other investment tools, Kresge invests more than $160 million annually to foster economic and social change. For more information visit kresge.org.

About Greater Texas Foundation
GTF supports efforts to ensure all Texas students are prepared for, have access to, persist in, and complete a postsecondary education. As a result of its work, GTF will help create greater connections among regional systems that support the ability of all students to succeed. By focusing on issues of statewide importance, GTF will also highlight innovative solutions to postsecondary preparation, access, persistence, and success across Texas. Since its 2001 inception, GTF has approved more than $77 million in grants to support Texas students. For more about the Greater Texas Foundation, visit www.greatertexasfoundation.org.

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SOURCE The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning