Experts, Stakeholders, and Community Members Discuss the State of Education for Latinos


Miami, FL.,–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–July 22, 2002–Western Union today sponsored a nationally-broadcast open forum on education at the National Council of La Raza’s Annual Conference at the Miami Beach Convention Center. The Town Hall Meeting, held before an audience of some 400 NCLR affiliates, guests, and media personalities, brought together a panel of distinguished education experts from around the country to discuss solutions to the education crisis in the Hispanic community. Western Union sponsored the event as part of its Bilingual Literacy Initiatives.

“This meeting comes at an absolutely critical time,” said Anthony J. Colon, NCLR Vice President of Education. “The most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics report that Hispanics ages 16 to 24 have the highest dropout rate of all ethnic groups at 27 percent, twice the rate of Blacks and nearly three times the rate of Whites. The Center has also shown that the dropout rate for Hispanics born outside of the U.S. is twice as high as that of Hispanics born within the 50 states with at least one parent born outside of the U.S.”

“The level of educational attainment among Latinos is a vital issue in every community,” said Sharon Holt, Western Union Director of Community Development. “NCLR is the premier Hispanic advocacy organization in the nation, and its work in the field of community-based education is extremely important to the nation as a whole. Given our longtime work with NCLR, particularly in the field of bilingual education, Western Union recognizes the importance of contributing to the ongoing dialogue on the status of education among Latinos.”

One of the NCLR’s Western Union-supported programs is Sabemos y Podemos, an adult, basic, English-as-a-Second-Language curriculum that addresses such issues as education advocacy, job readiness, and civic responsibility.

Sabemos y Podemos is one of several educational programs Western Union has helped to develop in support of its global literacy initiative, Aprender es Podersm. Another piece, Alrededor del Mundo, a program endorsed by NCLR, is a bilingual workbook for teachers, parents, and children which empowers Hispanics toward educational excellence within and beyond their communities.

“We have come to a crossroads at which we must find ways to achieve a higher rate of academic retention and develop educational resources within our communities,” Colon said. Through more than 280 formal affiliates and a network of more than 33,000 groups and individuals, NCLR builds collaborative, community-based programs and advocates equitable public education for Hispanics. In the policy arena, NCLR has effected changes in the areas of bilingual education and access to higher education.

Radio Unica Network will broadcast the Education Town Hall Meeting nationwide on Sunday, July 28 at 7:00 p.m. EST, 6:00 p.m. CST and 4:00 p.m. PT. Ricardo Brown, internationally renowned journalist and news anchor, will moderate the panel discussion. Western Union, together with Radio Unica, has coordinated and broadcast approximately 12 town hall forums this year.

About Western Union Financial Services, Inc. and First Data

Western Union Financial Services, Inc., a subsidiary of First Data Corp. (NYSE: FDC), is an international leader in consumer money transfer services. Consumers can quickly, safely and reliably pay bills and transfer money around the globe using the company’s proprietary money transfer network. Western Union and its subsidiary, Orlandi Valuta, together make up one of the world’s largest money transfer networks with a total of approximately 130,000 Agent locations in more than 190 countries and territories. Famous for its pioneering telegraph service, the original Western Union dates back to 1851 and introduced electronic money transfer service in 1871. For more information, please visit the company’s Web site at

First Data Corp., with global headquarters in Denver, helps power the global economy. Serving approximately 2.8 million merchant locations, 1,400 card issuers and millions of consumers, First Data makes it easy, fast and secure for people and businesses to buy goods and services, using virtually any form of payment: credit, debit, smart card, stored-value card or check at the point-of-sale, over the Internet or by money transfer. For more information, please visit the company’s Web site at


Michelle Cobas, 210.244-2184