Northeastern Illinois University and ASPIRA of Illinois (ASPIRA) have agreed to partner on a program that will ensure ASPIRA students are recruited to Northeastern, apply to Northeastern, and are supported in their post-secondary experiences at Northeastern. Called La Conexión, the program launches May 7 with the first ASPIRA students (“Aspirantes”) signing their commitment to attend Northeastern this fall.
Through La Conexión, Northeastern and ASPIRA will collaborate on enrollment and student success, explore avenues for current ASPIRA teachers to obtain endorsements through Northeastern’s Daniel L. Goodwin College of Education, and create an alumni network for individuals who are graduates of both Northeastern and ASPIRA.
“The missions of ASPIRA and Northeastern mirror each other so beautifully that a partnership between our institutions just seems natural,” Northeastern President Gloria J. Gibson said. “Northeastern is dedicated to preparing a diverse community of students to serve as leaders. This partnership will certainly further that mission.”
Northeastern will work with ASPIRA to provide college preparation programs and activities for ASPIRA students while they are in high school and provide them with direct academic and social support programs while at Northeastern.
“We are excited to launch La Conexión with Northeastern, a Hispanic-serving Institution with a mission that aligns so closely with ours,” ASPIRA Chairman of the Board Fernando Grillo said. “We are committed to the success of our Aspirantes not only while they attend our schools or come to our community centers and clubs, but through their time in university and beyond. La Conexión enables us to continue that commitment.”
While Northeastern is the first partnership of this kind, ASPIRA hopes to expand La Conexión to include other post-secondary options for students.
ASPIRA of Illinois is a non-profit organization with a mission to realize the academic excellence of each student in a safe and culturally diverse environment—and to support the values they need to attain a higher education and engage in civic life. ASPIRA, which means “to aspire” in Spanish, was founded in 1961 in New York by Dr. Antonia Pantoja (1922-2004) in an effort to reduce the high dropout rate of Puerto Rican youth.
The organization flourished into a national organization (ASPIRA Association) with ASPIRA organizations in six states and Puerto Rico. Currently, the Association serves more than 85,000 students a year in more than 400 schools across the United States and Puerto Rico, providing them with scholarship assistance, leadership programming, college and career counseling, cultural activities, and opportunities to engage with their communities in service projects.