White House recognizes ASU's American Dream Academy as 'Bright Spot'

Families attend the American Dream Academy parent-empowerment program.

Jamie and Patricia Fabian and their 15-year-old daughter, Yenifer, attend the American Dream Academy at Trevor Browne High School in Phoenix on May 6. The free, 10-week, Latino parent-empowerment program teaches parents about the requirements for college. The Fabians were the 30,000th parents to complete the program.
Photo by: Charlie Leight/ASU News

Marking the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence in Hispanics recognized Arizona State University’s American Dream Academy on Tuesday for its contribution in ensuring educational attainment for Hispanic youth in the community.

The American Dream Academy will be featured as part of the “Bright Spots in Hispanic Education,” a national online catalog of more than 230 programs that invest in key education priorities for Latinos.

“ASU is honored to be named as a Bright Spot along with other national programs whose collaborative mission is to enable the Hispanic youth in our communities to succeed,” said Sylvia Symonds, ASU assistant vice president of Educational Outreach.

The American Dream Academy (ADA) is a parent-empowerment program created to help address the disproportionately low educational attainment of Hispanic students in Maricopa County. Through interactive, facilitated classes offered in a variety of languages, the ADA helps parents gain an understanding of how they can support their child academically and reach all the required steps to complete high school. Through this education, parent and child are prepared for the requirements needed to achieve a higher education.

“ADA is symbolic of the spirit that lives at Arizona State University, accessibility to higher education for all qualified students,” said Alex Perilla, director of American Dream Academy.

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics was established in 1990 to address the educational disparities faced by the Hispanic community. Alejandra Ceja, executive director of the initiative, said the Bright Spots will be used to encourage collaboration between stakeholders focused on similar issues in sharing data-driven approaches, promising practices and peer advice.

“There has been notable progress in Hispanic educational achievement, and it is due to the efforts of these Bright Spots in Hispanic Education, programs and organizations working throughout the country to help Hispanic students reach their full potential,” Ceja said.

ASU has seen a 94 percent increase in Hispanic/Latino undergraduate enrollment since 2006. Through programs like the American Dream Academy, ASU ensures students are on a pathway to success, continuing to closely match Arizona’s socioeconomic diversity.

“ADA’s work brings to life ASU’s charter to be defined by whom we include and how they succeed,” Symonds said. “As part of Access ASU’s many programs and initiatives designed to grow the pipeline of K-12 students, ADA is contributing toward increasing the number of Arizona students prepared to enroll and succeed at ASU.”

Since its inception in 2006, the academy has graduated more than 30,000 parents and approximately 7,000 high school students and more than 80,000 children have benefited from their parents’ participation. In the past, research evaluations of the American Dream Academy curriculum show that parents who complete academy classes made impressive gains in their skills and knowledge about how to support their child’s education.

ADA was made possible by financial support from the Helios Foundation and SRP.

To learn more about the initiative and to view the Bright Spots in Hispanic Education national catalog, visit www.ed.gov/HispanicInitiative.