A non-profit organization is working to turn around the climbing high school drop-out rate in the Hispanic community.
The High School Diploma Initiative, a project of the LIBRE Institute, the 501(c)3 sister organization of the LIBRE Initiative, is now accepting applications for a program that will help Hispanics take the GED test free of charge, according to a press release Tuesday from the LIBRE Initiative.
"The [program] is designed to address the high number of U.S. Hispanics without a high school education—which hurts opportunities for families, put additional stress on our social and human service agencies, and strains the overall economy," the press release said.
More than 30 percent of Hispanics ages 18 and older in the United States do not have a high school diploma, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Daniel Garza, the initiative’s executive director, said that LIBRE is having a "two-dimensional" conversation with the Latino community to address the negative statistics.
"On the one hand, we are having a policy conversation, where we are driving ideas and policy that we feel can improve opportunities and reward hard-work … and that would also allow the free market to play a more expansive role in growing our economy," Garza said.
As a young man, Garza migrated annually around the United States following the crop season as a farm worker. After ascending to the heights of his career, being tapped to serve as associate director of the White House’s Office of Public Liaison during the administration of George W. Bush in 2004, Garza said he envisions all Latinos having the same access to a "second chance" at the American dream he was able to achieve.
The LIBRE Initiative is a 501(c)4 organization founded in 2011 to advocate for the U.S. Hispanic community. The initiative embraces the principles of limited government, property rights and free enterprise that lead Latinos to accomplishing their American dream while "lessening their dependency on government."
The initiative goes beyond simply taking a test, according to Garza.
"On the other side, we have having a cultural conversation about the virtues of hard work and personal responsibility, and a lot of that has to do with an education," he said.
The new LIBRE Institute begins its first phase by opening the program to 100 eligible applicants from Florida and Texas, but Garza said he expects the program to be extended to all of the nine states that operate in conjunction with LIBRE by the end of the calendar year.
The program is offered at no cost to the selected participants, in whom the initiative hopes to instill a message of personal fulfillment and self-reliance.
"This is … the importance of earned success and what it does to your confidence. When you work hard and you make your own breaks, and you overcome obstacles … that of course gives you fulfillment, and it is rewarding," Garza said.
"What the government offers is subsistence, it’s a stop gap, it’s just to get by. The private sector offers unlimited opportunity. If someone has better access to and better position in the marketplace, [their] options are limitless."