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HISPA 2021 Virtual Kick-Off and Recruiting Event

HISPA supporters everywhere are invited to join our virtual Kick-Off & Recruiting Event to commit to empowering Latino students in 2021-22!

About this event

HISPA’s 2021 Virtual Role Model Program Kick-Off and Recruiting Event

HISPA’s mission is to inspire Latino students to discover their potential and ignite their desire to embrace education and achieve success. At this year’s virtual Role Model Program Kick-Off and Recruiting Event, themed “Con Esperanza: Celebrating Our Heritage and Our Commitment to Sharing Stories,” we welcome HISPA supporters from across the country and around the world to commit to this mission. Let’s make 2021-22 a year of inspiring dreams and igniting actions in Latino youth!


5:00 PM
“Con Esperanza” Musical Performance
Anthony Rodriguez, Musician & Artist

Messages from HISPA’s Founding and Co-Founding Partners

Welcoming Remarks
Dr. Ivonne Díaz-Claisse, Founder & CEO at HISPA

HISPA 2021 Discovery Summit “INSPIRE” Remarks
Dr. Miguel Cardona, Secretary of Education at the U.S. Department of Education

Special Guest Speaker
Emmanuel G. Caudillo, Senior Advisor at the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics

5:30 PM
Panel: “The Powerful Impact of Giving Back: 12 Years Later”
– Dr. Alicia Abella, Managing Director of Telecom, Media & Entertainment Industry Solutions at Google
– Luis Díaz, General Counsel & Chief Cybersecurity Officer at Gabi Solutions

6:00 PM
Panel: “La Esperanza del Futuro”
– Yalitza Torres, Principal at Jerome Dunn Academy School
– Alejandra Piedrasanta, HISPA Student in 2016 at Elizabeth Public Schools
– Jasmine LeBlanc, HISPA Student in 2012 at San Antonio Public Schools
– Melissa Menchaca, HISPA Student in 2012 at San Antonio Public Schools

6:15 PM
Breakout Rooms
– Hope for Growth: HISPA’s Strategic Goals
– Inspiring Hope: Becoming a HISPA Role Model
– A Hopeful Initiative: Connecting Your Story with Social-Emotional Learning
– Hopeful Projects: How Your Company Can Host a Virtual Imagine Day or Discovery Summit
– Verizon Employee Exclusive: Bring Hope to Our Communities with the Verizon Volunteering Platform

6:45 PM
Closing Remarks: Call to Action
Rod Colón, Volunteer Management Director at HISPA

‘Deliver Us Outro’ Musical Performance
Anthony Rodriguez, Musician & Artist

Speakers & Special Guests

HISPA is excited to announce our musical guest, Anthony Rodriguez!

Independent musician and artist Anthony Rodriguez brings a unique color to Latin music. His recent release includes a re-score of “Deliver Us” from the movie “Prince of Egypt.” This re-score was also mastered at the iconic studio in London, Air Studios. His previous release from 2015, “Shackles Salsa,” was nominated for Best Song in The Independent Music Awards. With music productions lined up, Anthony is now adding film scoring to his arsenal. He has scored a full documentary titled “Sazon Guzman,” released on Vimeo and soon on Film Festivals. For this year’s HISPA Kick-Off, Anthony will be releasing two original scores for all guests to hear for the first time, LIVE!

Further details are forthcoming. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates!

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Latino Role Models, Secretary Cardona Inspire Latino Youth to Embrace Education at HISPA Discovery Summit

ELIZABETH, NEW JERSEY, June 2 — We often tell young people to reach for the stars, but for many Latino students in the United States right now, the possibility of achieving one’s dreams seems less like reality and more like, well, a dream. The pandemic has only compounded existing, deep-rooted hardships, exacerbating educational inequity and discouraging even the most devoted students.

Nonprofit organization Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement (HISPA) tackles this problem head-on by introducing predominantly low-income Latino youth to Latino professional role models. HISPA President and CEO Dr. Ivonne Díaz-Claisse believes that seeing successful role models who share students’ language and culture can give them hope for their own futures; indeed, she credits a childhood role model, a Puerto Rican professor who went to the U.S. to earn his Ph.D. in math, for inspiring her to do the same. 

“HISPA’s mission is to inspire Latino students to discover their potential and ignite their desire to embrace education and achieve success,” said Díaz-Claisse. “I am so in awe of our volunteers, HISPA’s Role Models, who share our vision and have committed to telling their stories, sharing the obstacles they have overcome on their pathways to higher education.”

About 100 HISPA Role Models will encourage 333 6th, 7th, and 8th-graders from Jerome Dunn Academy in Elizabeth, NJ, and 20 9th-graders from Eisenhower Science and Technology Leadership Academy in Norristown, PA, to discover their own potential when they gather virtually for the first-ever HISPA Discovery Summit on June 2.

A number of students were able to participate in the virtual event together at Jerome Dunn Academy in Elizabeth, NJ.

The HISPA Discovery Summit – I to the 4th Power is broken up into four segments, each focusing on one “I” key to a transformative experience: inspiring students to believe in their dreams, imaging what future careers they may have, informing themselves on the steps to take to reach those careers, and igniting their desire to take those steps.

Students will hear from inspirational speakers, including the U.S. Department of Education’s Secretary of Education, Dr. Miguel Cardona; marine biologist and “Mother of Sharks,” Melissa Cristina Márquez; and Rear Admiral Dennis Velez of the Navy Recruiting Command.

They will also engage in problem-solving workshops and information sessions led by the Association of Latino Professionals for America, the Association of Naval Services Officers, AT&T, Bristol Myers Squibb, Cabrini University, Columbia University Chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Comcast/NBCUniversal, Educational Testing Service, Lockheed Martin, the London Stock Exchange, Merck, Prudential, Tracfone, UPS, and Verizon.

AT&T is not only the event’s IGNITE sponsor, but AT&T employee and long-time HISPA volunteer Mayra Caceres is the Summit’s co-lead, playing a key role in organizing and planning the event.

“It is very exciting for me to be part of making the first HISPA Discovery Summit a reality for students,” said Caceres. “It reminds me of when I helped direct and launch HISPA’s first youth conference 13 years ago. Dr. Diaz-Claisse is a visionary and it is so rewarding to help bring HISPA’s vision to life with the support of AT&T and my HACEMOS familia.”

In addition to AT&T, HISPA’s Discovery Summit is brought to you by IMAGINE Sponsors Comcast and Merck, and INSPIRE Sponsors SOMOS Verizon, CoolSpeak, and AT&T HACEMOS, AT&T’s Hispanic employee group.

HISPA’s educational programs are made possible by Founding Partner Verizon, Co-founding Partners and Supports Bristol Myers Squibb, the PSEG Foundation, and Merck, and Annual Partners Bloomberg, CPC Global Group, Educational Testing Service, and UPS.

Felicidades en el Día de los Reyes Magos!

Virtual Celebration Supports Inspirational Programs for Latino Youth

Princeton, NJ – Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement (HISPA) will hold its annual awards banquet on January 14, 2021.  For the first time, the Three Kings Banquet – A Virtual Celebration will unite HISPA supporters across the country to honor the Latino role models who support HISPA’s educational programs and raise funds for these programs.
A nonprofit organization, HISPA conducts programs in New Jersey, New York, Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania.  Having transitioned to an all-virtual model, it is now setting its sights on expanding its programming across the country.  It has served over 15,000 students to date by mobilizing over 3,000 Latino role models.  Their message to Latino youth: you, too, can fulfill your potential and achieve your dreams through education.
The Three Kings Banquet coincides with the January 6 holiday of The Epiphany, also known as Three Kings Day, the traditional gift-giving period of the Nativity in many Spanish-speaking countries.  HISPA selected this time to thank the volunteers and patrons who share their gifts in support of educational equity and opportunity for all students.
Each year, awards are given to those who have excelled in their commitment to, participation in and financial support of HISPA.  HISPA will present its “Transform” Award for Sponsor of the Year to Verizon, its “Inspire” Award for Champion of the Year to JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Adelante, and its “Share” Award for Role Model of the Year to Alex Ortiz of Associated Technology Incorporated (ATI).  Rider University – The Norm Brodsky College of Business will receive the “Corazón” Award, given to an organization that provides invaluable in-kind support for HISPA.
Multi-award-winning journalist María Hinojosa will be the keynote speaker.  She is the anchor and executive producer of the long-running weekly NPR show Latino USA, anchor of the Emmy Award-winning talk show María Hinojosa: One-on-One, and founder of The Futuro Media Group. She is also the author of the recently published book “Once I Was You.” In addition, the program will feature music, networking, dance lessons, a silent auction, and more.
“We are so grateful to HISPA volunteers who share their stories, showcase the many pathways to higher education and careers, and inspire Latino students to achieve their dreams,” said HISPA President and CEO Dr. Ivonne Díaz-Claisse. “This virtual event allows all of us to celebrate their commitment and that of our partners and funders.”
Joining us for this event are Gold Sponsors Bristol Myers Squibb and the Organization for Latino Advancement (OLA), Merck and Merck Hispanos Organization, and America’s Navy, and Bronze Sponsors PNC Bank, PSEG, and the Shepard/Zanders family.
Additional sponsors include Investors Bank, UPS Crecer, and Refinitiv; Associated Technology, Inc. (ATI), Comcast, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Prudential, Rider University – The Norm Brodsky College of Business, Miguel Porto, and Kathleen Larkin, Essential Leadership, LLC, and Frank A. Sonnenberg, MD; and Office Depot and SOMOS Depot, Manolo’s Best Farmstand Chili and Soups, Rod Colón’s family, and Ricardo Pellegrino.
HISPA’s annual funders include Founding Partner Verizon, Co-Founding Partners Bristol Myers Squibb, Merck, and PSEG and Annual Partners Educational Testing Service, CPC Global Group, and Wells Fargo.



New Jersey non-profit HISPA one of three organizations honored with presidential STEM award

Princeton, NJ, August 11, 2020 — The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) has named 12 individuals and three organizations as recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM). Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement (HISPA) was one of the three organizations recognized with the highest national mentoring award bestowed by the U.S. government upon mentors who work to expand science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) talent.

Nominations are accepted from all 50 States, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity schools, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the United States territories which includes American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands.

Presidential award for STEM mentors

Established in 1995, the PAESMEM has honored the hard work and dedication which mentors exhibit in broadening participation in the STEM pipeline.

PAESMEM recognizes the critical role mentors play outside the traditional classroom setting in the academic and professional development of the future STEM workforce. Colleagues, administrators, and students nominate individuals and organizations for exemplary mentoring sustained over a minimum of five years. 

A panel of outstanding scientists, mathematicians, engineers, STEM education researchers, STEM educators, and other STEM or STEM-related professionals review nominations. Recommendations are sent to OSTP for final selection.

Awardees serve as leaders in the national effort to develop fully the nation’s human resources in STEM. Protégés are students and early career STEM and STEM-related professionals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, women, persons with disabilities, and persons from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds.


HISPA is a non-profit organization founded in 2007. The organization mobilizes Hispanic professionals to serve as role models to inspire Latino students to discover their potential, igniting their desire to embrace education and achieve success. By uniting students with successful role models with whom they share a cultural and/or linguistic background, HISPA’s educational programs aim to establish a college-going culture and expose underserved populations to a range of postsecondary educational and career opportunities—especially in STEM fields, in which Latinos have historically been under-represented.

Established in New Jersey, HISPA expanded to Texas in 2011; to New York in 2013; to Florida in 2016; and to Pennsylvania in 2019. To date, HISPA has grown from 100 to 3,000 HISPA Role Models and have held over 1,500 Role Model Program sessions, 30 Youth Conferences, and many Corporate Visits, reaching over 15,500 students.

“The Presidential Award represents the opportunity for HISPA to recognize the thousands of individuals—our HISPA Role Models—who have stepped into classrooms and, with their stories, inspired Latino students to discover their potential,” said HISPA President and CEO Dr. Ivonne Díaz-Claisse. “This award means HISPA can celebrate and honor the mentors who have invited our youth to their corporations and colleges, leading lab tours and workshops that have ignited students’ desires to embrace STEM education and achieve academic and professional success.”

Dr. Díaz-Claisse was inspired to found HISPA after speaking to students at a New Jersey school. She shared the obstacles she faced growing up in Puerto Rico with a love for math: as a Latina, teachers doubted her ability and discouraged her from pursuing her degree. She found a role model in a Puerto Rican professor who had earned his Ph.D. in math in the U.S. Inspired, she went on to do the same.

After sharing her story, a young Latina approached her and said, “Now I know I can pursue a Ph.D., too.” Her mission became clear: Hispanic youth could not aspire to something they didn’t see. She founded HISPA to address this need, with a special focus on STEM subjects. Today, over 50% of HISPA Role Models hold a degree in a STEM field or applied science, such as medicine or healthcare.

HISPA’s 2019-20 educational programs were made possible by Co-founding Partners and Supporters the PSEG Foundation, Verizon, Wells Fargo, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Merck; and Annual Partners and Supporters: Educational Testing Service, UPS, Visa, and Southwest Airlines.

Impacto Latino: HISPA recibe el Premio Presidencial STEM

Impacto Latino, the newspaper established in 1967 to serve the Latino community in New York and the United States, featured HISPA’s recognition with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, the highest national mentoring award bestowed by the White House.

You may read it below, or visit:

HISPA recibe el Premio Presidencial STEM

Voluntarios y estudiantes de HISPA en San Antonio

La organización hispana sin fines de lucro HISPA fue reconocida con el premio más alto otorgado por el gobierno de los EE. UU..

Establecido en 1995, el premio presidencial (PAEMST) honra la excelencia en mentoria en las areas de Ciencias, Technologia, Ingeniería y Matemáticas (STEM).

Lo que reconoció a HISPA, (Hispanos que Inspiran el Desempeño y los Logros de los Estudiantes) por su trabajo duro y dedicación para expandir el talento de grupos históricamente subrepresentados en el campo STEAM, en el que jóvenes latinos también se han visto menos favorecidos.

“El Premio Presidencial representa la oportunidad para que HISPA reconozca a miles de personas, (nuestros modelos a seguir de HISPA), quienes han entrado en los salones de clase, y quienes con sus historias han inspirado a los estudiantes latinos a descubrir su potencial”, dijo la presidenta y directora ejecutiva de HISPA, Dra. Ivonne Díaz -Claisse.

Dra. Díaz-Claisse, es la fundadora de la organización precisamente inspirada tras propiamente haver enfrentado obstáculos al buscar obtener su Ph.D. en matemáticas como latina. Ella dijo que los maestros dudaban de su capacidad y la desanimaban para obtener su título.

Posteriormente encontró un modelo a seguir en un profesor puertorriqueño que había obtenido su Ph.D. en matemáticas en los EE. UU. quien la inspiro para poder alcanzarlo.

Su misión quedó clara: la juventud hispana no podía aspirar a algo que no veía. Por lo que fundó HISPA con un enfoque especial en las materias STEM para abordar esta necesidad con mentores calificados que dan apoyo a los jóvenes e ingreso a estos ámbitos.

“Este premio significa que HISPA puede celebrar y honrar a los mentores que han invitado a nuestros jóvenes a sus corporaciones y universidades, liderando recorridos por laboratorios y talleres a su vez han encendido los deseos de los estudiantes de adoptar la educación STEM y lograr el éxito académico y profesional” añadió.

Directora Ejecutiva de HISPA se dirige a los estudiantes de Princeton

Hasta la fecha, HISPA, con un campo en Nueva York ha crecido de 100 a 3,000 mentores HISPA y ha realizado más de 1,500 sesiones del programas de modelos a seguir, 30 conferencias de jóvenes y muchas visitas corporativas, para allegarse y atender a más de 15,500 estudiantes hispano hablantes.

Con el alto reconocimiento los premiados de este año servirán como líderes en el esfuerzo nacional para desarrollar plenamente los recursos humanos de la nación en las materias STEM.

Encouraging Success

ETS’s Center for Advocacy & Philanthropy proudly supported this year’s Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement (HISPA) Role Model Program.

During the 2019-2020 school year, the Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement (HISPA) Role Model Program coordinated 286 school visits by role model volunteers to 34 schools. The program brings professionals into schools to share their educational and career journeys with students with an emphasis on the importance of higher education and future goals.

Visiting a group of eighth-graders in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Daniel Hernandez, an ETS Research Software Developer and HISPA Role Model, shared, “Presenting my story to the students was a very rewarding experience and made me feel good about myself knowing the value I bring to the community.”
Daniel Hernandez and middle school students in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Ernest Battle, Assessment Specialist in Assessment Learning and Technology Development K–12, served as a HISPA Role Model in a San Antonio school. “I let the students know that unimaginable positive outcomes can result by simply saying ‘yes’ to new challenges and opportunities,” said Battle.
Ernest Battle and middle school students in San Antonio, Texas.

As a strategy to further motivate students, HISPA has developed “20,000 Inspirational Stories for Our Youth.” This web-based resource allows students to search for stories by various topics, including country of heritage, colleges attended, degrees obtained and obstacles overcome. With the support of ETS’s UNIDOS Business Resource Group, Alberto Acereda, Celeste Eppinger, Yvonne Kuykendall, Sylvia Ledesma and Nate Santana have added their stories to the platform.  

Learn more about HISPA and find out how you can get involved.

HISPA Begins Month of Gratitude

Mr. Rogers famously said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

Right now, we seem to be faced with troubling news every day. But at HISPA, we are fortunate to be surrounded by helpers. During this Month of Gratitude, HISPA wanted to take time to acknowledge those who bring esperanza y amor to their communities.

Every day, we will bring you a small story of hope and love–from our funders, volunteers, and students. We cannot change the news, but we can find a moment to be grateful for the good that surrounds us.

HISPA to Launch Platform of 20,000 Inspirational Stories for our Youth

Princeton, NJ – By 2036, it is predicted that one in three students in U.S. public schools will be of Hispanic heritage. However, the proportion of Hispanic students who do not graduate from high school is twice as high as that of non-Hispanic white students. One potential reason for this disparity? A lack of access to relatable role models. 

HISPA (Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement) has been in the forefront of addressing this problem and creating successful solutions through its programs. In 2017, HISPA began the ‘20,000 Stories for 2020’ project, a dedicated effort to expand its programs and ramp up the number of stories shared by HISPA Role Models. One of these programs is ‘20,000 Stories for our Youth’, a web-based platform to collect Hispanic role models’ stories and share them in one place, all in a way that is easily accessible by Hispanic youth, their parents, teachers and counselors. This platform will be especially critical in light of mounting concerns over the coronavirus known as COVID-19, which is prompting schools to close and many programs to come to a halt.

“HISPA Role Models are experts in story-telling. For 13 years, we have mobilized successful, highly-skilled Latino professionals to share their stories and serve as role models for Latino youth,” said HISPA President and CEO Dr. Ivonne Diaz-Claisse. “However, HISPA is based on the belief that everyone deserves access to role models. With ‘20,000 Stories for our Youth’, Latino students everywhere will be able to access these stories, regardless of whether or not they are enrolled in HISPA programs.”

HISPA is currently in the first phase of ‘20,000 Stories for our Youth’, working with several organizations to collect an initial batch of 300 stories. The collection will grow from there as HISPA seeks student feedback and continues outreach to their entire professional network.

HISPA will be collecting these stories as writing, audio recording, and video. The stories will focus on role models’ lives: their backgrounds, the obstacles they have overcome, and the paths they have taken to college and career success. Ultimately, students will be able to filter the ‘20,000 Stories for our Youth’ results based on gender, ethnicity, field of study and career to find role models and stories that most align with their interests.

Over the coming weeks, HISPA will be providing information on how to gain access to the ‘20,000 Stories for our Youth’ platform.

HISPA Role Model Visits Postponed

Dear HISPA schools and Role Models,

In an abundance of caution and in the interest of protecting the health and safety of students, school employees, volunteers and their families, HISPA will be postponing all Role Model Program visits until the end of April, effective immediately.

We will be in contact with you on an ongoing basis to reassess and reschedule the visits.

HISPA strives to improve the lives of our students, and nothing brings us greater joy than providing them valuable learning opportunities. However, we feel that this proactive measure is in the best interest of everyone involved. 

We are proud of what we have accomplished together so far this year: 276 school visits by 213 HISPA Role Models–a record year for HISPA! We thank everyone for all the energy and hard work they put into planning and preparing for the Role Model Program, and we appreciate your understanding.

HISPA NYC Youth Conference Postponed

In an abundance of caution and in the interest of protecting the health and safety of our students, teachers, volunteers, and their families, HISPA will be postponing its New York City Youth Conference at Columbia University, previously scheduled for March 13, 2020. This decision was made with the input of HISPA’s Board of Directors in light of increasing real and perceived public health concerns related to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

We carefully considered many factors in making this decision. After closely monitoring the situation, heeding the cautions of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and learning that multiple partners are exercising non-essential travel restrictions, we decided to postpone this event indefinitely. 

HISPA strives to improve the lives of our students, and nothing brings us greater joy than providing them valuable learning opportunities. However, we feel that this proactive measure is in the best interest of everyone involved.

We appreciate all the energy and hard work everyone put into planning and preparing for this event. Thank you to our hosts—Columbia, SHPE and Brandon Cuevas—and event sponsors Bristol-Myers Squibb, Verizon, and Refinitiv. We are also grateful to our workshop providers: AT&T, UPS, Columbia University SHPE, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Verizon, and Refinitiv. 

This wasn’t an easy decision, and we thank everyone for their understanding.