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CHCI 2015 Capitol Hill Policy Briefing Series

Join the CHCI 2014-15 Graduate Fellows for the CHCI 2015 Capitol Hill Policy Briefing Series -- at the Cannon House Office Building during March and April. Each fellow will organize and moderate a public policy roundtable discussion comprised of members of Congress, congressional staffers, public policy experts, and national leaders, tackling some of the most pertinent issues affecting the Latino community.

The briefings will focus on the following topics:


Natural Resources

Economic Development 

Mental Health


Click on the links below and register for any of our eight upcoming briefings.


March 16, 2015
Cannon House Office Building – Room 121
Education Briefings

9:30 – 10:45 am

"Hispanic Serving Institutions and the Viability of a Federal Rating System"

Moderated by McDonald's Higher Education Graduate Fellow Félix Muñiz Jr.

2015 Higher Education Graduate Briefing White Paper - Félix Muñiz Jr.

In seeking to address present challenges concerning college affordability and institutional quality, President Barack Obama has announced an ambitious plan to implement a Postsecondary Institutional Rating System (PIRS).  Harnessing relevant student data, the system intends to:  1) provide families with reliable consumer information on college choice; 2) inform institutional policy and practice; 3) and enable an accountability structure within the federal financial aid program.  Seen as a potential high stakes evaluation, a frequent question for the U.S. Department of Education has been how it will come to define college value and rate institutional performance.  Other recurrent questions pertain to the unintended impacts of PIRS implementation, particularly upon the nation’s diverse set of academic institutions and the wide array of students they serve.  For Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), these questions figure prominently. This briefing brings together experts to comment on the viability of PIRS to serve as an effective transparency and accountability tool for HSIs.

Click here to learn more about this briefing.

11:00 am – 12:15 pm

"Reaching for 2020: The Role of Latino Community College Success in National College Completion Goals"

Moderated by CHCI Higher Education Graduate Fellow Tracie Sánchez

2015 Higher Education Graduate Briefing White Paper - Tracie Sánchez

Ambitious national completion goals set by the Obama administration have prompted dialogue around unmet workforce demands, educational equity, and the role of Latino college completion. Although representing a significant portion of the American mosaic, educational attainment for Latinos remains relatively low, as they continue to face barriers towards college completion. In 2012, it is estimated that 21.3 percent of Latino adults had earned an associate’s degree or higher compared to a 40.1 percent average of adults in the country. To increase college completion among Latinos, federal policy must play a central role by ensuring sustained funding of Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) and advocating for more efficient streamlining of students from community college to four-year institutions. This briefing explores recommendations for re-authorization of the Higher Education Act, which advances the country’s push to once again become the most educated country in the world by addressing concerns of equity among Latino college students across the country.

Click here to learn more about this briefing.

12:15 – 1:00 pm

Afternoon Intermission

1:00 – 2:15 pm

"College Knowledge as Cultural Capital"

Moderated by CHCI Secondary Education Graduate Fellow Braulio Salas

2015 Secondary Education Graduate Briefing White Paper - Braulio Salas

In its current form, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), fails to require State Educational Agencies (SEAs) or Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) to provide families with information regarding post-secondary attainment. The limited access to college knowledge is one of various factors that contribute to reduced post-secondary enrollment rates among Latinos. The reauthorization of ESEA provides an opportunity for Congress to improve Latino enrollment rates by strengthening the parental involvement provisions already present in the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, the most recent reauthorization of ESEA. By amending the legislation to incorporate crucial language on parental engagement, Congress will provide states and local entities with important guidance regarding the type of engagement that should be taking place. This briefing will bring together experts to discuss the importance of developing the whole child and highlight the role that parent engagement plays in student college attainment.

Click here to learn more about this briefing.

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March 23, 2015
Cannon House Office Building – Room 122
Natural Resources Briefings 

9:30 – 10:45 am

"Agua es Vida: Innovative Solutions to Western Water Wars"

Moderated by CHCI-Shell STEM Graduate Fellow Alesandra Nájera

2015 STEM Graduate Briefing White Paper - Alesandra Nájera

Often lost in conversations about catastrophic water shortages, drought is a defining feature of Western climate. Rather than treating it as an unpredictable catastrophe, droughts can and should be expected and prepared for accordingly. Also glaringly absent is the disproportionate effect extreme drought conditions have on the Latino population in the United States. Given the distribution of Latinos in the West, their cultural values, and their socioeconomic condition, the impact of drought on this population is unique and deserves to be treated as such. Finding innovative solutions to drought is critical for all residents of the United States. Careful consideration of Latino experiences during drought can ensure that the Latino perspective is respected and included. This briefing will bring together experts to discuss 21st century solutions to the drought’s impacts on the Latino population.

Click here to learn more about this briefing.

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April 13, 2015
U.S. Capitol Visitor Center – Meeting Room North #268
Economic Development Briefings 

9:30 – 10:45 am

"Spurring Economic Development in Latino Communities with Housing Policy as the Catalyst"

Moderated by CHCI Housing Graduate Fellow Cheye-Ann Corona  

2015 Economic Development Graduate Briefing White Paper - Cheye-Ann Corona

According to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro, we are currently in the “Century of Cities”, a time when America is falling in love with the city again.  Given the trends, this century will continue to see the ethnic diversification of suburban areas as a result of a lack of affordable housing in urban cores. With the recent wave of gentrification, Latina/o communities that have long existed in urban cores are being displaced. Currently, the federal government seeks to increase its investment in urban centers through the Promise Zone initiative. Yet, our country must reinvest in its economic future in a way that acknowledges demographic shifts and cultural relevancy. Placing affordable housing at the center of the Promise Zone Initiative proves crucial because with access to secure, safe, habitable, and affordable homes, a person’s quality of life and economic situation improves. This briefing will explore the role of the federal government in place-based revitalization initiatives by framing the discussion around current and relevant issues such as the racial wealth gap, revitalization impacts on small businesses, and affordable housing for low-income communities.

Click here to learn more about this briefing.


11:00 am – 12:15 pm

"The Earned Income Tax Credit Conundrum: The Unintended Exclusion of Latina/o Children"

Moderated by CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Law Graduate Fellow Israel Nery

2015 Economic Development Graduate Briefing White Paper - Israel Nery

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) stands as a refundable tax credit for low-to moderate-income individuals and families. President Reagan, who significantly expanded this credit during his administration, deemed it “the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress.” Currently, policy makers refer to the EITC as the “nation’s largest federal anti-poverty program.” In 2010, the EITC lifted roughly 5.4 million people out of poverty, including 3 million children. The EITC has been proven to promote children’s success in school, along with allowing them to experience work, income, and health benefits into adulthood. Despite its commendable accomplishments, the EITC has exclusionary effects on many Latina/o children in the United States.  This briefing will focus on ways in which the statutory framework of the EITC could be changed to minimize exclusionary effects on Latina/o children.

Click here to learn more about this briefing.


12:15 – 1:00 pm

Afternoon Intermission

1:00 – 2:15 pm

"Accessing Government Contracts and Developing the U.S. Economy: Leveling the Playing Field for Minority-Owned Businesses"

Moderated by CHCI-Ford Foundation Law Graduate Fellow Ana Pupo

2015 Economic Development Graduate Briefing White Paper - Ana Pupo

Programs to support Minority-Owned Businesses (MBEs) in government contracting have developed as a response to executive and congressional findings of MBE discrimination in the marketplace. Though these programs have evolved over the years to better level the playing field for these businesses, access to support for MBEs lingers as an issue and during the recent economic downturn these inequities have been exacerbated. This briefing brings together experts to discuss ways to improve these programs in areas ranging from competition, contract management, and publicity of programs, to contract bundling in order to reduce the barriers that preclude MBEs from having an equal opportunity at developing our economy.

Click here to learn more about this briefing.


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April 22, 2015
Cannon House Office Building – Room 122
Mental Health Policy Briefings 

9:30 – 10:45 am

"Sobreviviendo la Adolesencia: The Inherent Value of Effective and Culturally Competent Mental Health Screening and Assessment for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System"

Moderated by CHCI-DaVita Health Graduate Fellow Margarita Chavez

2015 Health Policy Graduate Briefing White Paper - Margarita Chavez

Research has established that up to 70 percent of adolescents in the juvenile justice system in the United States have significant mental health problems. These mental health problems may include major depression, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, conduct problems, substance abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Many of these adolescents may have also been subjected to poverty, violence, physical, mental or substance abuse, along with academic disadvantages and delinquent behavior. Latina/o youth face additional obstacles to diagnosis and treatment when cultural, language and discrimination disparities factor into the equation. These conditions show that it is imperative that professionals in the juvenile justice system identify the mental health needs of adolescents through effective, purposeful culturally competent mental and behavioral health screenings. This briefing will examine the relationship between undiagnosed mental health disorders and youth entering the juvenile justice system, as well as solutions and recommendations for addressing these “forgotten children” in their adolescent years.

Click here to learn more about this briefing.

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April 29, 2015
Cannon House Office Building – Room 122
Health Policy Briefings 

9:30am – 10:45 am

"Investing in Health to Achieve Equity: Integrating a Health in All Policies (HiAP) Framework to Advance the Promise Zone Agenda"

Moderated by CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Health Graduate Fellow Araceli Gutiérrez

2015 Health Graduate Briefing White Paper - Araceli Gutiérrez

Nearly 50 years after former President Lyndon B. Johnson launched the War on Poverty, President Obama unveiled his anti-poverty Promise Zone Initiative aimed at alleviating poverty and income inequality in the United States. Promise Zones aim to revitalize high poverty communities across the nation, working with local leaders to create jobs, increase private investment, improve educational opportunities, and reduce violent crime. Promise Zone-designated areas represent an opportunity to leverage the initiative’s systemic and cooperative multi-sector framework to integrate a Health in All Policies (HiAP) approach in mitigating poverty among vulnerable populations. It is therefore imperative that Congress amend legislation to include a HiAP framework in place-based initiatives; only then can viable upstream interventions be developed to promote equitable health outcomes for a diversifying U.S. population. This briefing will focus on the ways in which structural barriers to opportunity perpetuate multi-generational poverty and adverse health outcomes among women, racial and ethnic minorities and why it is critical to integrate a HiAP framework in anti-poverty strategies and interventions to address the Promise Zone agenda.

Click here to learn more about this briefing.

11:00 am – 12:15 pm

"Funding Community Health Centers to Reduce Costs and Protect Vulnerable Populations"

Moderated by CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Health Graduate Fellow Grant Barbosa

2015 Health Graduate Briefing White Paper – Grant Barbosa

Community health centers play a vital role in the American health care system, serving as primary care for many of our most vulnerable populations, such as low-income and minority citizens. However, a significant portion of this funding expires at the end of the 2015 fiscal year. Community health centers will not be able to function without some level of financing, thus wreaking havoc on populations that already suffer health outcome disparities. In addition, community health centers have proven to be cost-effective and fruitful to the American economy. Given their economic impact, the question lies not in not whether community health centers should receive funding, but rather at what level should community health centers be funded. This briefing will explore the vital role that community health centers play in addition to the amount of funding they should receive.

Click here to learn more about this briefing.


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Should you have any questions, contact Caroline Gonzalez at 202-548-8786 or cgonzalez@chci.org

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