Huffpost Latino Voices
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Glenn Llopis Headshot

Culturally Relevant Education Will Enable A Brighter Future For Hispanics

Posted: Updated:

At a time when U.S. Latinos are looking to advance personally and professionally in ways that come most naturally to them - universities and corporations must take measures to be more culturally sensitive if they want to leverage how Latinos think, act and innovate. They must become more mindful of the educational requirements that will better prepare and enable Hispanics in the classroom and in their work.

Bridging the Cultural Gap to Enable Increased Performance
Today, Latino professionals demand culturally relevant and affordable online education. According to Marisa Salcines, Employee and Brand Communications Manager at UPS, "As a professional looking to hone my leadership skills, I have scoured the Internet for online, print, and in-person development training courses but never found the high-caliber, interactive, and innovative curriculum I was searching for."

Center for Hispanic Leadership (CHL) research shows that Hispanics are underserved in professional development that focuses on leveraging their cultural heritage. More so, it reveals that traditional consensus-based organizations are not yet ready to modify their workplace culture to fully embrace the passionate, entrepreneurial and familial style tendencies that Hispanics bring to the table. As such, for many years, Latinos have felt forced to assimilate in the workplace, but are now ready to reach for success by learning how to leverage their heritage and utilize their unique skills and natural characteristics.

Beyond the corporate world, this underserved demand to bridge cultural values as a means of enabling higher levels of performance also extends into the classroom with Hispanic youth. According to Dr. Ximena Hartsock, National Director of Outreach at Students First, "The rich traditions, experiences, and values that Latino students bring to schools have the capacity to enhance cultural capital in the classroom. Educators should build upon those strengths and use them as leverage to educate students and make them feel valued. Traditionally, the underlying assumption that Latino children come to school with a deficit has prevented us from taking advantage of the opportunity that these cultural treasures have to offer."

Future Looks Bright for Hispanic Advancement
Although there has long been a lack of culturally relevant educational platforms for Hispanic professionals, CHL research indicates that Fortune 500 organizations have finally taken notice of this problem. They now realize that if they do not create a workplace environment that encourages cross-cultural pollination and culturally relevant training to accelerate the performance of Hispanic employees, their company's creativity, R&D and new Hispanic market expansion and supplier diversity efforts will weaken and increasingly make them irrelevant in the fiercely competitive marketplace. The necessity to "act now" is being driven by the "Hispanic Factor" as defined by three key variables:

  1. Hispanics are the fastest growing population (50M+) and workforce in the United States.
  2. Hispanic small business owners are growing at twice the rate of the national average (conservatively estimated at350B revenue annually).
  3. Hispanics have an estimated purchasing power exceeding1T that is only expected to climb to1.5T by 2015.

This Hispanic Factor makes it an imperative for corporations to replace a culture of assimilation with training that enables Latinos to reacquaint themselves with their own culture - as well as training non-Hispanic professionals to effectively and authentically serve this growing consumer segment and small business audience.

YouTube Network and Its Impact on Latino Education
Beyond Hispanic Training Center, there is also a new network on YouTube that specifically targets Hispanics. Launched on April 30, 2012, MiTu is taking the Internet by storm with Hispanic lifestyle information and education. As noted in a recently featured interview with MiTu on NPR, "Latinos are more likely than other Americans to watch online videos, but there hasn't been much of an effort to develop special content for them -- until now."

Since its launch just three months ago, MiTu has exceeded over 1 million subscribers with over 357 million video views across its content verticals - including food, health, beauty, family, and pop culture. Clearly, their strategy is to infuse the online world with culturally relevant content that creates the most appeal and impact for the rapidly growing Hispanic online audience - and it has proven to be a success as shown by the quick engagement by early adopters.

According to MiTu co-founder, Beatriz Acevedo, "MiTu has built its brand by providing useful content that is aspirational, authentic and culturally relevant, delivered by credible and passionate Hispanic experts in their fields - from parenting guidelines for how to raise a bilingual child to accessible financial or health education as well as any other lifestyle genre that helps improve the daily quality of your life."

The preference for how Hispanics want to be taught and trained to maximize their engagement and performance levels has been made clear. The demand by U.S Latinos to embrace culturally relevant and affordable online education is on the rise. Corporations and universities must act quickly as this trend has direct implications on the talent they attract to their businesses and the students they seek to fill their classrooms.