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CBU’s Latino Student Success Program Recognized by President Obama

MEMPHIS - Christian Brothers University is proud to join the nearly 150 public and private sector organizations who answered the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics’ 25th anniversary call to action. Dr. John Smarrelli, President of CBU, and Franky Paz, Sports Management, ‘18, will represent the University at an event on Thursday, October 15, 2015 in Washington, D.C where President Obama will formally recognize CBU, along with the other organizations who answered the call to action. 

CBU answered the call to action with our Latino Student Success Program. The Latino Student Success Program is a multi-faceted approach to assisting Hispanic students during their time at CBU. The LSS program is made possible by a private grant that will fund the program over the next seven years. This commitment to providing education that's affordable and accessable to all students parallels that of John Baptist de la Salle, the founder of the Christian Brothers. The program is broken up into the following areas:  


CBU has made a significant pledge of support to area students who are ineligible for state and federal financial aid. CBU provides financial support to students from all walks of life-currently about 97% of all undergraduate students rely on financial aid. This support includes both scholarships and loans. The program is designed to level the playing field for these students, providing an opportunity for self-improvement and a brighter future through an undergraduate education. 


In fall of 2014, several Latino students at CBU founded a student-run organization called Hola CBU to meet the unique needs of Latino students in the CBU community and further cultural awareness of Hispanic heritage. Currently the organization has over 80 members, and has plans to expand its outreach to the wider Memphis community.  


Part of LSS's success also comes through our partnership with Latino Memphis, a local agency that assists Latinos in the Greater Memphis area by connecting, collaborating and advocating for health, education and justice. 


On October 2014, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics launched a Year of Action, and with it a national call for Commitments to Action in honor of its 25th anniversary. In the spirit of what President Obama calls a “shared responsibility,” the Initiative challenged the public and private sectors to make meaningful and quantifiable contributions to expand and support the educational outcomes and opportunities for the Latino community. On October 15, 2015, on the culmination of the 2015 Hispanic Heritage Month, the President is announcing 150 Commitments to Action with a collective investment of nearly $340 million which will build on, and accelerate federal, state, and local investments in high-quality education, from cradle-to-career for the nation’s Latino community. 


Executive Director Alejandra Ceja remarked, 

“It is an honor to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and the Initiative’s 25th anniversary with the release of nearly 150 commitments to action that will help strengthen the educational outcomes and opportunities for the Hispanic community from cradle-to-career. These commitments will bring critical resources to Latino students and families across this country, are examples of meaningful investments being made in support of the largest, youngest and arguably the fastest growing minority community in the country and will help fulfill America’s future.”
“CBU is extremely honored to be recognized for this program, particularly as it is so exemplary of our core mission and values," commented CBU President John Smarrelli. "We were founded on the belief that education is a fundamental right for all and we continue to work towards making our quality programs accessible and affordable. I am personally grateful that President Obama has taken note of the work we are doing here in Memphis to support our growing Latino population.”

To learn more about the Initiative and to view the full list of Commitments to Action, visit

WATCH:  Representatives from the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics visit CBU

Posted by Joshua Colfer at 7:30 PM