NWA Hispanic Leadership Council Launches New Academic Year of Mentoring Program

BENTONVILLE, Ark., (October 12, 2021) – The NWA Hispanic Leadership Council (NWA HLC) launched the Latinx on the Rise Mentoring Program for the 2021-22 academic year. The event, hostedby the University of Arkansas Latino Alumni Society, focused on introducing the new cohort of mentors and mentees and the expansion of the mentoring program to enable leadership and professional enrichment opportunities for the students. The event counted with the participation of current and previous mentors and mentees, representation from the University of Arkansas (U of A) and the Northwest Arkansas Community College (NWACC), as well as leaders in education and community advocacy. The new opportunities available to the program participants and a new line of pre-graduation internships will be possible thanks to a three-year grant awarded by the Walton Family Foundation.

Developing the next generation of community leaders will be the catalyst to have an equitable and robust Northwest Arkansas region. According to the Northwest Arkansas Council Diversity report the Hispanic/Latino population is projected to see exponential growth across the region. In 1990, this group made up just 1.30% percent of the population and by 2022, this number will jump to 17.89%. This population growth will be reflected in the collage population as well. As the NWA Latinx college population increases, currently at 22.31% at NWACC and 9.2% at the U of A, it is paramount that these young professionals have the skills and social capital to successfully enter the workforce and become caring and productive citizens. “The NWA Hispanic Council has made it its mission to fill this gap,” said Luis Fernando Restrepo, member of the NWA Hispanic Leadership Council Board of Directors. “In just three years, the NWA HLC has had over 30 graduates from the mentorship program. We are happy to announce that the Walton Family Foundation has partnered with the NWA HLC to continue its mission and take the organization to the next level,” he added.

The Latinx on the Rise Mentoring program pairs college students with professional leaders to provide them with experiences that complement their academic formation, such as relationship building and networking, as well as the opportunity of learning by coaching on leadership topics. The program encourages civic engagement and provides the opportunity to meet key community leaders, become familiar with the existing community development organizations and learn about the challenges and opportunities of the NWA region. The success of the program is due to the generosity and commitment of the Mentors, who give their time, effort and expertise to students, many of which are first generation college students, who otherwise will not be able to benefit from valuable interactions outside of their academic programs. “The mentorship program helped me connect with industry leaders that have helped along the way from interning to ultimately landing a full-time role,” said Angel De La Cruz, Mentorship program alumnus.

The three-year grant of almost half million dollars from the Walton Family Foundation, will provide organizational capacity building and programming support for the NWA HLC. This will allow the participants to take advantage of paid internships, educational travel and professional development opportunities.

The Latinx on the Rise Mentoring Program supports a new cohort each academic year. Enrollment of mentors and mentees is completed between August and September. The program runs through the Summer. The new pre-graduation internship program will begin in the Spring of 2022.


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