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Goizueta Foundation Boosts Hispanic

Goizueta Foundation Boosts Hispanic
Presence at Georgia Institutions

Since the 1990s, state officials across the South have pushed their higher education systems to reach out to the region’s growing Hispanic population. States like Georgia and North Carolina have seen consistent growth in the numbers of Hispanics enrolling in their public colleges, universities and community colleges.

In Georgia, millions of dollars in private funding have flowed to public institutions, where officials have launched Hispanic recruiting campaigns and established Hispanic scholarship and faculty support programs. Benefiting from a surge in Hispanic enrollment, one school, the Georgia Institute of Technology, has become one of the largest producers of Hispanic engineers in the United States.

Partly responsible for Georgia Tech’s ascension is the Goizueta Foundation, which has provided funding for schools in Georgia and around the nation to help grow their Hispanic student and faculty populations. Established in 1992 by Roberto C. Goizueta, the late CEO and chairman of the Coca-Cola Co., the foundation is one of the nation’s leading philanthropic organizations supporting Hispanics in higher education. Goizueta, who passed away in 1997 at age 65, was a Cuban-born immigrant who ascended the corporate ranks to lead one of the world’s largest companies. During his 16-year tenure as Coca-Cola’s CEO, he reportedly created more wealth for shareholders than any other CEO in history. Goizueta became the first U.S. corporate manager to attain billionaire status from stock ownership in a company he didn’t take public or help launch.

While private institutions in Georgia, including Emory University, Morehouse College and Spelman College, have attained funding from the Goizueta Foundation, it appears that the foundation has focused much of its Hispanic-targeted funding at the state’s public institutions. The foundation maintains a low profile and officials there operate under a policy that prohibits them from communicating with the news media.  

 This past spring, the foundation awarded the University of Georgia a $4 million grant to “enhance educational opportunities for Hispanic students in Georgia.” It was the second time in four years the foundation had given UGA a significant grant to benefit the state’s young Hispanic population. In 2002, UGA received $3.5 million from the foundation to launch a major initiative to improve education for Georgia’s Hispanic students.

In 2005, Georgia Tech began investing additional resources into recruitment and retention of Hispanic students as the result of a $2.3 million grant by the foundation. The grant was a follow-up gift to a 2001 donation of $4.25 million, which had helped the school create permanent scholarships and fellowship endowments.

“It’s not just a matter of increasing the numbers of Latinos coming in, but it’s important what you do to help them to succeed as students and graduates of the institution,” says Dr. Rigoberto Hernandez, the Goizueta Foundation Junior professor and associate professor of chemistry at Georgia Tech.

“We have been able to mentor and provide them an academic home here,” he adds.                            

 — By Ronald Roach

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