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Cleveland-based nonprofit receives national recognition for college success

Esperanza Inc. was honored for accelerating achievement in higher education among area Hispanics.

CLEVELAND — The organization's name means "hope," but Esperanza Inc. was recognized nationally for doing more than just inspiring a dream.

The Cleveland-based nonprofit organization was awarded with the 2022 Example of Excelencia for Community Based Organizations in Washington, D.C. Thursday night for it's program to further Hispanic college success.

"This national recognition is the result of our team's dedication to developing effective programs that address the unique challenges of Hispanic students, particularly first-generation, and enable them to successfully complete their degree in a reasonable timeframe," Esperanza Executive Director Victor Ruiz said. "I am proud that our program will be promoted as a model to guide to other community organizations across the country to help students secure the education and skills they need to fulfill their dreams."

Germaine Peña is the manager for post-secondary initiatives. She said the organization focuses on wraparound services to help students break through barriers that can easily set them back.

"[Specifically] first-generation students not having someone within their family," Peña explained. "Someone within their structure, that has the opportunity, has the information, the knowledge to guide them."

Internship support, scholarship opportunities, and mentorship are a few of the services provided that help promote college success. According to the organization, Esperanza students are 30% more likely to remain in college compared to their peers, with a 93% college success rate in 2019 and 99% for 2020.

Peña said this is about more than just diplomas; it's an investment in a more diverse workforce and society.

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