University of Rochester

Leaders Program for Latino Youth Returns to University of Rochester

July 6, 2007

A high school program aimed at training future leaders will be hosted at the University of Rochester July 8 to 15. The National Hispanic Institute's Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session at the University is one of 16 programs held this summer in the United States and Mexico for students with college and leadership potential.

At Rochester's session, the goal for the 140 students is to see themselves as leaders and to learn how to fulfill that role within the reality of elected politics. They create their own government, work through writing and passing legislation, and negotiate and collaborate to make communities prosper and promote their values.

"Our mission is to address a weakening leadership infrastructure by endeavoring to increase the supply of skilled and educated youth who are willing to be trained as future community leaders," said Ernesto Nieto, who founded the nonprofit National Hispanic Institute, now the largest Latino youth organization in the nation. Nieto believes that as the U.S. Latino population continues to grow, there are not enough leaders to get involved in community issues.

Almost all of the students who participate in the institute's programs enroll in college and 90 percent of them graduate in four or five years, with 65 percent pursuing graduate studies.

For the second year, the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering at Rochester is sponsoring the legislative session and providing housing, meals, and classroom space as well as recreational and social amenities for the participants.