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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 17, 2000

GOVERNOR RYAN LAUNCHES LATINO EDUCATION INITIATIVE
Program aimed at lowering dropout rates among Latino students

CHICAGO -- Governor George H. Ryan today launched "Project Impact", an education initiative aimed at improving the educational performance and decreasing the dropout rate of Latino students throughout Illinois.

Governor Ryan made the announcement at Ames Middle School and was joined by State School Superintendent Max McGee, Deputy Governor of Education Hazel Loucks, Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas and Jim Palos, Executive Director of Project Impact.

"Over the past 25 years, statistics show that Latinos have had the highest dropout rate of any ethnic group in America," Governor Ryan said. "With the fifth-highest Hispanic population in the country, Illinois is getting hit especially hard by this trend.

"But that is going to change. We are launching this program to make certain that Latino students in Illinois have the opportunity and support they need to get a good education."

"Project Impact" also known as "Projecto Impacto" will focus on the primary causes for academic under-performance identified in a study McKinsey & Co. and Edelman Public Relations Worldwide. Project Impact will transform Latino education through increased public awareness, mentoring programs involving Latino role models, greater community and parental involvement, partnerships with universities and colleges to encourage student enrollment and increased access to Internet resources to help advance education.

"Project Impact" will focus on the Governor's education policies such as early reading emphasis, job readiness and support structures for teachers to work with students from diverse populations. The project will be housed at the University of Illinois at Chicago with a small full-time staff and larger part-time staff made up of community residents and volunteers. It will work through high schools and their feeder schools-beginning with two high schools in the first year.

"By the year 2005, Latino students will make up nearly 20 percent of Illinois' student population," Project Impact Executive Director Jim Palos said. "Yet today, more than half of Latino children score below the standard average on Illinois state reading tests.

"With Projecto Impacto we want to draw a new future for our Latino children here in Illinois, as well as be a model for the rest of the country to follow."


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