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Phoenix-area Hispanic educational groups shine in White House spotlight

PHOENIX — Several local Hispanic organizations have earned recognition from the White House.

The educational groups emphasize getting either a college degree or a professional certificate to Hispanic children in Arizona. The groups were honored at a ceremony at Phoenix City Hall on Friday morning.

“These are the organizations that answered our call to action,” Alejandra Ceja said.

The executive director for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics added, “These are the organizations that were nominated as ‘bright spots’ by their peers.”

The groups that received certificates were the Helios Foundation; Fowler Head Start Program; American Dream Academy; Be A Leader Foundation; The Victoria Foundation; and South Mountain Community College’s Bilingual Nursing Fellows program.

“We are really excited to be with a lot of other community partners who are doing tremendous work,” Vince Yanez, from the Helios Foundation, said.

“To receive the recognition is really special.”

Helios has committed almost $6 million to its College Knowing and Going project for the next four years. Yanez said that will help Hispanic high schoolers in 18 districts take their ACT exams and apply to colleges.

“We often don’t take enough time to thank people for their contributions,” Ceja said.

“It’s so easy to focus on the deficit-based narrative. … This is a bright spot in Arizona … being able to talk about what’s working.”