Report: Progress Made in Latino College Graduation Rates, Equity Gaps Remain

The new report highlights equity gaps in graduation rates between Latinos and Whites.

The new report highlights equity gaps in graduation rates between Latinos and Whites.

The gap in college graduation rates between Latinos and Whites across the United States dropped from 14% to 9% over the past two years, although data varied from state to state, according to a new report by Excelencia in Education.

The report collected state-level data on student populations, educational attainment of adults, multiple comparative measures of equity gaps in degree attainment, the top five institutions enrolling and graduating Latinos, and examples of promising, evidence-based practices in each state for improving Latino college completion.

Nationally, the top-five institutions awarding bachelor’s degrees to Latinos were: Florida International University, University of Phoenix (online), The University of Texas at El Paso, The University of Texas – Pan American, and Arizona State University.

Several trends emerged:

  • Latinos are younger. Nationally, the median age for Latinos was 27 compared to a median age of 42 for White, non-Hispanics.
  • Latinos’ share of the student population is bigger that its share of the national population. Nationally, Latino youth represent 22% of the K-12 public school population and 17% of the U.S. population overall.
  • Latino adults have lower degree attainment levels. Nationally, 20% of U.S. Latino adults had a post-secondary degree compared to 36% of all adults.

The report aims to inform national and state-level action on Latino college completion.

“This important and painstaking research from Excelencia in Education on Latino college completion tells us not only where we are in each state, but provides examples of successful programs to move us in a positive direction,” said Rep. Raúl Grijalva (Arizona), Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Education Task Force. “Such concise and actionable research is invaluable to policy makers and education leaders at all levels.”

View state-by-state data here.


Study: TV Again Tied to Poor Sleep in Kids, Especially Latinos and Other Minorities


Photo via Fox News

Kids who spend the most amount of time watching TV have shorter bouts of sleep, which impacts physical and mental health, especially among minority kids, according to a new study.

The study, by Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, examined the associations of TV viewing and bedroom TV sets with sleep duration from infancy to mid-childhood among 1,864 children—35% minorities.

From age 6 months to 7 years, kids’ average sleep duration decreased from 12.2 to 9.8 hours a day; TV viewing increased from 0.9 hours to 1.6 hours per day, reports.

By age 7, 23% of kids had a bedroom TV set.

Bedroom TV was associated with 31 minutes per day less sleep among racial/ethnic minority children.

Elizabeth Cespedes, the study’s lead author, according to Fox News said it’s hard to know why minority children would be more affected by having a TV in the bedroom.

“At all time points, racial and ethnic minority children in our study were sleeping a bit less and watching more television,” Cespedes.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against watching television for children who are under the age of two and to keep TV time for older children limited to one hour a day.

Report: How to Increase Latino Participation in Potentially Life-Saving Cancer Clinical Trials


Doc and patientOnly 5% percent of Latinos participate in federal clinical trials, giving researchers fewer chances to find new cancer treatments for this population.

What can a health agency do to get more Latinos into clinical trials?

A new guide, Clinical Trials Outreach for Latinos: Program Replication Manual, developed by researchers at the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, was created to help health agencies reach into Latino communities and increase their participation in cancer clinical trials.

With the guide, a health agency can:

  • Learn about cancer clinical trials;
  • Learn about donation of biospecimens (human materials such as skin, hair, and bodily fluids);
  • Learn the need for Latino-focused outreach to increase trial accrual and biospecimen donation;
  • Start outreach activities to increase accrual and donations;
  • Adapt educational slides, materials and evaluations to local needs; and
  • Increase the number of Latinos who participate in local trials and donate biospecimens.

cover“Most of today’s best cancer treatments are based on what we learned from past clinical trials,” said Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, director of the IHPR and the new manual. “The more Latinos join clinical trials, the faster we can find better cancer treatments and prevention options and increase survival rates.”

Latinos typically suffer higher incidence rates of liver, cervical, stomach, and gallbladder cancers than the general population, and have worse outcomes for many cancers.

In response, the IHPR developed an educational outreach program to increase Latino participation in clinical trials.

The program: developed an English-and-Spanish-language educational module to teach the community about clinical trials, their purpose, and benefits; trained community health educators to deliver the module; built a community resource directory; and recruited organizations for support.

The new manual makes it possible for other health agencies to adapt the program and its module and other resources to fit any community of Latinos.

“We hope other organizations can make additional progress in helping more Latinos join potentially life-saving cancer clinical trials,” Ramirez said.

The IHPR developed the manual through two of its projects funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Those projects are Redes En Acción: The National Latino Cancer Research Network (Grant No. 3 U54 CA153511-02S1) and the Region 4 Transdisciplinary Geographic Management Program (GMaP) program, which is building a synergistic network of investigators in basic, clinical, population- and community-based research to eliminate cancer health disparities. The Region 4 GMaP project has a sister project, Minority Biospecimen/Biobanking Geographic Management Program (BMaP), based at New Mexico State University.

Only 58% of Latinas in South Texas Get the HPV Vaccine


hpv psa redesOnly 58% of Latinas in South Texas’ Lower Rio Grande Valley start the three-dose HPV vaccine, which prevents cervical cancer, compared to 65% across the U.S., studies show.

That’s why researchers are testing strategies to improve HPV vaccination rates.

The Immunization Partnership recently brought together several experts for a community forum to offer some of the latest solutions.

For example, one study is using promotoras (trained community health workers in the Latina community) and student peer educators to engage mothers and daughters in South Texas about the HPV vaccine. This project is directed by Dr. Deborah Parra-Medina, professor at the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, the team behind SaludToday.

Watch this video for more about the Parra-Medina’s program, called Entre Madre e Hija.

Bilingual ‘Parent Toolkit’ Now Tracks Students’ Health/Wellness Benchmarks


toolkit 2 spanishNBC News‘ is debuting a fascinating “health and wellness” section of its bilingual Parent Toolkit.

The Parent Toolkit, available in English and Spanish, is a website and mobile app that helps parents navigate their children’s academic development, personal growth, and now health and wellness milestones.

The goals of the toolkit, which is sponsored by Pearson, are to give parents a clear understanding of what is expected of their children at each step in their academic and health journey, and to provide a comprehensive set of tips and tools to help parents engage in and monitor their children’s academic development and health.

The new health and wellness section includes:

  • Grade-by-grade recommendations for physical activity, nutrition, and sleep based on national standards
  • Age-appropriate tips for parents to increase exercise, healthy eating, and adequate sleep for their growing children
  • Printable infographics to guide parents in making healthy choices when reading nutrition labels and grocery shopping

The toolkit’s new offerings complement its existing resources: a “growth chart” with grade-by-grade academic benchmarks for Pre-K through 12th grade in math and English language arts; tips and resources for parents to support their children’s learning and wellness for Pre-K through 12th grade; and a guide to parent-teacher conferences and school counselor meetings.

NBC News has plans to expand the site to include a Social & Emotional Development section in the fall 2014.

Visit the site at

Larissa Avilés Santa: From a 4th-Grade Science Lesson to a Career in Improving Latino Health

Dr. Larissa Avilés Santa

Dr. Larissa Avilés Santa

Check out this great profile of Latina public health research Dr. Larissa Avilés Santa.

The profile, by CienciaPR, chronicles Avilés Santa’s career development, from how she got interested in anatomy and endocrinology in 4th grade in elementary school, studied medicine and translational research in Puerto Rico, worked in heart disease prevention and diabetes clinical trials at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and joined the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in 2006.

Now she is directing the largest-ever study on U.S. Latino health (the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos).

Avilés Santa said the initial results from the large study indicate high risks for diabetes and heart disease among Latinos, creating new opportunities for interventions to improve Latino health.

“The goal of both medicine and public health is to improve health,” she says. “The difference between them is big. In the clinic you have an individual relationship with the patient, an intimacy. This is especially true in endocrinology, where you have to guide patients through personal decisions, related to reproductive health, for example,” she adds. “A patient once told me ‘Doctor, you are like my priest.’ Having that kind of relationship with a patient is a privilege.”

“Public health has greater impact at the community, national levels. It’s a matter of perspective. Although I miss clinical practice, my work in public health gives me a unique opportunity to have impact at a larger scale, particularly with the Study of Latinos,” Avilés Santa points out.

Read more here.

New Video/Audio ‘Lifelines’ to Help Reduce Cancer among Latino and Other Minority Populations


lifelinesHispanics suffer higher rates of certain cancers, including cervical cancer and childhood leukemia, than other groups.

That is one of the reasons behind Lifelines, a series of cancer education articles, videos and audio files from the National Cancer Institute’s Multicultural Media Outreach (MMO) program.

The Lifelines series, in both English and Spanish, addresses cancer prevention, treatment, survivorship, health disparities, clinical trials and other cancer-related topics for African-American, Hispanic, Asian American and Pacific Islander and Native American populations.

  • Lifelines Videos feature videos on a wide range of topics, including colorectal, breast, and cervical cancer, tobacco use and lung cancer, complementary and alternative medicine, and nutrition and cancer risk.
  • Lifelines Audio Files are a series of 60-second audio segments on cancer topics that can be downloaded and broadcast for free on ethnic radio outlets or posted on websites that reach minority audiences.
  • Lifelines Profiles feature a behind-the-scenes look at the people behind the science, like global health researcher Jorge Gomez.

Check out Dr. Amelie Ramirez, director of the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, the team behind SaludToday, in a Lifelines video about the need for Latino participation in clinical trials and a Lifelines audio piece, Cancer Care and the Affordable Care Act (Hispanics).

Stay up with the Lifelines series by following @NCImcMedia on Twitter or YouTube.

Interactive Report: What Is Life Really Like along the U.S.-Mexico Border?


What does it mean to live along the U.S.-Mexico border?

Why is the border where it is, and how does the fence work? How violent is Ciudad Juarez? What are the health and wellness concerns of people?

The answers to these questions can be found in National Pubic Radio‘s new Borderland Broadcast Series, a catalog of Steve Inskeep’s travels along the more than 2,000-mile border to photographically illustrate what it means to live along the binational borderline for Latinos in the United States and Mexico.

Follow along with the interactive series or listen to series transcripts.


Video: Latina Mom Helps Quadriplegic Friend Complete Triathlon

Cristina Ramirez (right) and her friend, Kerry Gruson.

Cristina Ramirez (right) and her friend, Kerry Gruson (via Voxxi News)

Check out this great video that features Cristina Ramirez, a Latina mother in Florida who worked hard to get healthier—and helped her quadriplegic friend make it to the finish line of the South Beach Triathlon.

Ramirez, who is featured in the Voxxi News video, is among the 20 winners of Positive Impact Awards from Hispanicize.

According to Hispanicize: “Cristina has served as an inspiration for women to get off the couch and take on a healthy lifestyle. In addition to recently co-founding Bike Key Biscayne in order to make cycling safer in the community, she has raised over $5,000 for the National Parkinson Foundation through her IronMan Florida race, and over $3,000 for a seven-year-old waiting for a heart transplant through the Miami Marathon.”

“We shouldn’t be defined by our limitations,” Ramirez said in the video. “We can do anything we want to do.”

Report: Latino, Other Minority Kids Face Uphill Battle for Success


Latino statsU.S. Latino, black, and American Indian children have greater obstacles to success than white and Asian children, according to a new report, NPR reports.

The report, called Race for Results from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, explores the intersection of kids, race and opportunity.

The report includes a score that compares how racial/ethnic children are progressing on 12 key milestones from birth to adulthood—such as math proficiency, high school graduation data, teen birth rates, employment prospects, family income and education levels, and poverty levels—at the national and state levels.

The higher the score (up to 1,000), the better children fare.

Asian children have the highest score at 776, followed by white children at 704.

Among Latinos, only eight states had scores above 500, with the highest score in Alaska (573). The states with the lowest scores for Latino children are primarily located in the Mid-South and southwestern regions, with a low of 331.

On nearly every measure in our index, Latino children in immigrant families have the steepest obstacles to success.

“Scores for Latino (404), American-Indian (387) and African-American (345) children are distressingly lower, and this pattern holds true in nearly every state,” said the report.

The report indicates that “a call to action that requires serious and sustained attention from the private, nonprofit, philanthropic and government sectors to create equitable opportunities for children of color,” according to the NPR report.

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