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Soluciones and OLA

By José Luna, Special to La Prensa


Saturday, January 31, 2009, the Ohio Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs [now OLA] sponsored a mini-conference at the Sofia Quintero Arts and Cultural Center, Toledo. 


The mini-conference was a follow-up meeting to a daylong, statewide forum entitled “Soluciones,” which was held in the winter of 2006 on the campus of Ohio State University in Columbus. 

At the 2006 forum, education and business leaders, community activists, members of social services agencies, and members of the Latino communities gathered to discuss the issues facing the diverse Latino population. 

José Luna

The OCHLA listened and gathered data from the participants and promised follow-up meetings throughout the regions of Ohio’s Latino communities. OCHLA’s Toledo mini-conference was the last in the series of local community forums but truly not the least.


The OCHLA, directed by Ezra C. Escudero, commenced the forum, with a power-point presentation on the origins of the OCHLA.


A presentation was also given by Nelson Ramírez, Regional Director of Closing the Achievement Gap.  The Closing the Achievement Program was established by Governor Ted Strickland to help young black and Latino males attending urban schools that are below a 70 percent graduation rate. 

The program targets ninth grade boys.  The youth must also meet particular requirements that make them at high risk of dropping out.  The Toledo high schools participating in the Closing the Achievement Gap Program are:  Libbey, Woodward, and Scott. For more information go to: www.catalyst-ohio.org

The final segment of the mini-conference was a speak-out session, which allowed area leaders to detail to Señor Escudero their concerns, issues, and expectations.  Among the local leaders that attended the mini-conference were members of Adelante Inc., Ramón Pérez of La Grange Development Inc., José Trevino from the University of Toledo, Ohio State Senator Teresa Fedor, and Toledo Public Schools Board Vice President Robert Vásquez.

The top issue that was discussed was Education. Community members were concerned with data about dropout rates, graduation statistics, the role of career education in TPS, and the college readiness of Toledo Latino youth. 

Bob Vasquez and Raquel Bravo


Raquel Bravo, retired TPS administrator, expressed to Director Escudero the need to voice these issues at the state level. 


Present community leaders expressed their desire for a state-level response, tailored specifically to Latino Youth, with funds earmarked for those programs.  Señor Escudero stated that his office would do it’s best to voice the issues of not only Toledo’s Latinos but all Latinos in Ohio.


According to Escudero, “OLA can be a spark, with subsequent occasional fuel, to help ignite education for and within the Latino communities.”


Shown above are:  Ms. Calderón-Cavanaugh, Señor Ezra C. Escudero, and Ms. Staigers of the OLA.





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