The award provides funding for NUESTRO FUTURO, a national conference designed to fully engage a cross-section of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) experts from around the country to critically review and discuss the best practices in STEM education, and to develop a series of concrete recommendation to encourage young Latinos to pursue STEM degrees and careers. NUESTRO FUTURO will utilize a comprehensive dissemination strategy, including traditional print media, web casting, and social media to reach a large segment of the Latino community regarding the urgent need to prepare future generations in STEM, and innovate to better serve the Hispanic community and the nation. Recommendations from the workshop will aid the NSF?s efforts to broaden participation of all underrepresented minorities, and facilitate the development of a diverse and competitive STEM workforce for the 21st century as mandated by the America Competes Act.

Project Report

NUESTRO FUTURO: 2010 Latino Education Conference The memories of Jaime Escalante, the inspirational math teacher who recently passed away, inspired those attending NUESTRO FUTURO, the 2010 Latino Education Conference, held April 1, 2010 in Washington, DC. Invited by LATINO Magazine, over 250 attendees from around the country represented academia, corporate America, the Federal government, and Latino organizations such as the Hispanic Association of colleges and Universities (HACU), Great Minds in STEM, and the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). They participated in a day of panels and roundtable discussions addressing one of the toughest problems in the Latino community---its lack of representation in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics field (STEM). The first panel was moderated by Lily Eskelsen, vice president of the National Education Association (NEA) and herself a 6th grade teacher from Utah. Ricardo Rincon, who teaches at Sunrise Elementary School in Las Cruces, NM said teachers often fail to make use of valuable learning tools, and this must change. "They don’t feel confident to use the technology that is available to them in the classroom," he said. Maria Reyes, associate dean at Estrella Mountain Community College, warned teachers must do more to help Latino students overcome cultural and language barriers. Teachers must also abandon prejudices that stereotype Latino students as poor candidates for higher education and STEM careers. The second panel focused on making sure there is a steady flow of Latino students studying STEM disciplines and graduating in those fields. Moderator Antonio Flores, the president of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), said convincing Latino families of the value of a STEM-based education for their children is a must: "We are very aware of the fact that everything begins at home." José Muñoz, acting director of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Office of Cyberinfrastructure, said that by 2018, nine out of 10 U.S. jobs will be STEM-based, requiring computer proficiency, at the very least. But inspiration is key. As a child watching television, he was amazed to learn of Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite. "I knew then what I wanted to be," Muñoz said. The third panel centered on how corporate America, non-profits and government agencies can bolster the work of teachers in the classroom. Joe Garcia the director of the office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the Department of Energy (DOE), conceded Hispanics are underrepresented in the DOE and other federal agencies. Manny Hernández, president of SHPE, said the Latino community must realize it is much more than its stereotypes. Deborah Santiago, vice president of policy and research for Excelencia in Education, discussed her organization’s efforts to collect data on the educational status of the nation’s Latino students and its programs to boost their achievements. In the concluding panel, GE executive Martha Poulter said there’s untapped wealth in the Hispanic community. "If there’s a Peace Corps, there should be a STEM corps," she said. The final panelist was Rick Dalton, president of the Vermont-based College for Every Student (CFES) , who said there’s a need to create a "intense culture of college" in the Latino community. Several conclusions emerged from the conference. First, although Latinos are underrepresented in STEM disciplines, the tide is starting to turn.. Engineering is rapidly becoming the most popular choice for Latino students. Second, it’s important to recognize that certain programs have proved quite effective in encouraging young Latinos to enter the STEM fields. Among those cited were LOFT, Great Minds in STEM and HESTEC. Third, there must be a renewed commitment to supporting teachers. In his remarks, Juan Sepulveda that "we must do things differently." Teachers need not just more resources but more training. Fourth, all the participants agreed on the power of partnerships, whether between the Federal government and corporate America, the profit and nonprofit sectors, or Latino organizations and their mainstream counterparts. Fifth, we need to foster what many participants described as a "culture of success." This is not just up to parents, teachers, and mentors but students themselves. Students who have excelled in STEM disciplines should be encouraged to get involved in mentoring their peers and serving as role models. The 2010 Latino Education Conference was covered extensively in the Summer 2010 issue of LATINO, reaching an audience of Latino opinion makers, educators, corporate executives, students, and community leaders nationwide. A webcast of all panels is available at For more information, please contact Alfredo Estrada at

Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Latino Magazine
United States
Zip Code