Excelencia in Education selects Hispanic Chamber program as finalist for national award

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Building Bridges through Education's kickoff event was its fall 2019 Get Focused Summit. Courtesy West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

The West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Building Bridges through Education program has been chosen as a finalist for a national award program.

Excelencia in Education on Thursday, Sept. 9, selected BBTE as a 2021 national finalist for its annual Examples of Excelencia award that recognizes programs working to accelerate Latino student success, according to the Hispanic Chamber.

The West Michigan-based BBTE initiative was one of only 21 finalists selected out of 145 program submissions representing 23 states and Puerto Rico. The 21 finalists will be featured online, as well as in Excelencia’s Growing What Works Database, which the chamber said is the only national searchable database for institutional leaders, funders and policymakers interested in identifying what works for Latino students.

“It is an atypical body of work we are leading here in Michigan that has caught the attention and interest of our peers across the nation,” said BBTE Program Manager Jessica Ledesma. “For them to see Michigan-based companies and universities support leaders of color to lead an intentional long-term investment in the Latinx community for the advancement of the greater community flips the typical nonprofit/charitable contribution narrative to trust-based partnerships driven by equity. It is what has enabled significant positive outcome in such a short amount of time.”

Examples of Excelencia was created in 2005 and is a national effort to identify, aggregate and promote 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, co- founder and CEO of Excelencia in Education.

Every year, Examples of Excelencia puts out a national call for nominations for the awards program. Excelencia in Education reviews all program profiles and identifies finalists in four categories — associate, baccalaureate, graduate and community-based organizations.

The finalists are then presented to a national selection committee of higher education leaders, grant makers and stakeholders. The committee assesses the strength of innovative, intentional, culturally relevant and effective high-impact practices tailored to Latino students and their communities to select the four Examples of Excelencia.

On Oct. 28, four of the 21 finalists will be announced as the 2021 Examples of Excelencia and recognized at the virtual Celebración de Excelencia.

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