Hispanic Heritage Foundation Recognizes White House Initiative with Prestigious Award

Alejandra Ceja, executive director for the Initiative

Alejandra Ceja, executive director for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, accepts the Hispanic Heritage Award.

The Hispanic Heritage Foundation held its 28th Annual Hispanic Heritage Awards on Sept. 17 at the historic Warner Theater in Washington, D.C. The awards celebrated Hispanic culture and heritage and recognized Latino leaders in sports; science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education; innovation; youth work; education; music and health.

This year, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics (WHIEEH) was awarded the education award for its 25 years of service to the nation’s Latino community. Alejandra Ceja, executive director for the Initiative, received the award on behalf of WHIEEH.

“I’m extremely honored to receive this award on behalf of the Initiative,” said Ceja. “As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and the Initiative’s 25th anniversary, let us remember that investing in the educational attainment for Hispanics is absolutely critical to the success of our country. The Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s recognition of our efforts reflects the important role education plays in the lives of Latino students and families across this country. We look forward to working to ensure Latino students, and all students, have the opportunity to achieve their goals and dreams.”

U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who was entering the final leg of his “Ready for Success” bus tour, recognized the Initiative’s accomplishments.

“I am happy to congratulate Executive Director Alejandra Ceja and her entire White House Initiative team on receiving the Hispanic Heritage Award for Education Leadership,” said U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “The Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s recognition of her leadership and the critical work her team provides is a testament to the service and dedication of our commitment to our nation’s students and families.”

Created in 1990 to address the education disparities of the nation’s Latino community, particularly the alarming drop out rate, the Initiative has continued to work with local, state and federal stakeholders in support of the educational attainment of Latinos.

Under the Obama Administration, the mission of the Initiative is to restore the country to its role as a global leader in education and strengthen the nation by expanding educational opportunities and improving educational outcomes for Latinos of all ages. The Initiative also works to ensure that all Latinos receive an education that prepares them for college, productive careers and satisfying lives.

To learn about the Initiative’s efforts throughout Hispanic Heritage Month, visit www.ed.gov/HispanicInitiative and to see the other Hispanic Heritage Foundation honorees visit: www.hispanicheritage.com. 

Alberto Betancourt is a member of the press team in the Office of Communications and Outreach