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Latino Veterans Who Are Changing The Game In Business

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Latino veterans are helping to make their local, national and global communities stronger years after retiring from service in the various U.S. military branches. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, businesses owned by Latino veterans doubled between 2002 to 2007. Here are some Latino veterans-turned-entrepreneurs we want to honor this Veterans Day.

1. Chris Mercado, Objective Zero

At the Military Times Service Member of the Year Ceremony! Congratulations to all of this years award recipients and…

Posted by Objective Zero App on Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Named one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business this year, Army active duty infantry officer Chris Mercado’s Objective Zero is helping fellow veterans receive the mental health they need during a crisis with the touch of an app. Mercado was inspired to create the app after he helped save the life of his friend and Army mate who was contemplating suicide. That six-hour phone call was the catalyst to get Mercado to recruit a group of his Georgetown School of Foreign Service classmates to work on developing the app in 2015. Now 350 trained volunteers are aiding veterans around the clock to give them the support they need.

2. Graciela Tiscanero-Sato, Author and Founder of Gracefully Global Group, LLC

Posted by Graciela Tiscareno-Sato on Thursday, January 14, 2016

Decorated Air Force veteran Graciela Tiscanero-Sato is a business maven who has been able to transfer her leadership skills into becoming a successful author in two genres and founding her own marketing company. She has authored a five-time award winning book on Latinos innovating in the green economy, as well as the first bilingual children’s book about mothers in the military, “Good Night Captain Mama/Buenas Noches Capitan Mama.” In 2014, Tiscanero-Sato was named a “Champion of Change” by President Barack Obama for her military service and contributions to the economy as a business owner.

3. Joe Sanchez, Co-Partner of Sol4r (Solar Four)

Georgetown alum and veteran Joe Sanchez is putting the skills he learned early on in his career working in the defense and intelligence sectors to blaze a trail in clean energy solutions. In 2010, he helped launch Sol4r (Solar Four) with Dr. Mary Haberl to provide green energy technologies. He also is working on actively making his company a more diverse one. “We’re a fully minority company, and we plan on employing more veterans,” Sanchez said at a business roundtable co-hosted by Voces Verdes.

4. Nick Velez, Bastards American Canteen

When U.S. Marine veteran Nick Velez opened his restaurant Bastards Canteen in Downey, Calif., with two of his Marine buddies, the name raised some eyebrows in the city. The name is meant to commemorate the service of the U.S. Marines Corps, 2nd Battalion 4th Marines who were named the “Magnificent Bastards.” Once the history of the name was given, citizens welcomed the restaurant with open arms and it has even been named one of Los Angeles’ most popular veteran-owned businesses by ABC7. Sadly, one of the co-founders, Cpl. Calvin B. Spencer, was killed in a traffic collision on his motorcycle. Velez and the Bastard’s community continue to honor Spencer’s legacy through fundraisers and events.

5. Jessica Morel, Tri Freedom Real Estate Partners

Jessica Morel continues to serve her greater community off the field as the owner of Arizona-based Tri Freedom Real Estate. She is helping her clients to attain the American Dream of owning a home after opening the real estate company following her eight years of service in the United States Army Reserves. Morel and her team are still keeping the military tradition strong at their company by completing the Military and Veteran Housing Certification.

READ: After Four Years Fighting In The Marines, This Deported Veteran Came Back To The US In A Casket

Do you want to honor a Latino vet and business owner? Let us know in the comments!

Fresno State Is Using A Grant To Get More Bilingual Latino Teachers In Classrooms

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Fresno State Is Using A Grant To Get More Bilingual Latino Teachers In Classrooms

World Bank Photo Collection / Flickr

California State University, Fresno (Fresno State) is taking initiative when it comes to putting more Latinos in and in front of the classroom. The college has received a $3.75 million grant toward programs for Latino students who want to become teachers at San Joaquin Valley area schools. Latino teachers represent 25 percent of public schools in Fresno County, while Latino students make up 65 percent of the population, according to the California Department of Education.

The goal of the new program is to increase the number of bilingual Latino teachers who will return to teach in their hometowns.

The historically Latino area is at a disparity when it comes to teacher-student ratio. There are currently 3.3 million Latinos attending California’s K-12 public school and with nearly 1.4 million English learners in the state. The gap is growing most noteably in Fresno County.

The program will start with recruiting early in local high schools, helping students through the community colleges then into Fresno State’s liberal studies and teacher credential program to earn a bachelor’s degree and teaching credential. Patricia D. Lopez, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction at Fresno State, believes that the program comes at an important time in the history of the school district.

“As this population continue to grow that disconnect continues to stagger and it has gone up over the years,” Lopez said. “You can find a campus full of Latinos but only small handful of Latinos teachers. At the administrative level you are praying on this demographic to shoulder the responsibility and it plays into both the students and administration.”

Lopez says the disparity may have to do with retention rates. A recent study shows that Latino teachers are leaving the profession at higher rates than their peers.

Lopez says that district leaders must pay as much attention to understanding and creating the right culture to retain Latino teachers as they do to recruiting them. That starts with listening and learning from teachers and focusing on creating a culture where students and teachers are both set up to succeed.

“We really do need to do more when it comes to four year college graduates and retaining them,” Lopez says. “We can always do better and seeing so many Latino teachers leave the field is indicative of the lack of support they may have.”

Almost half of all undergraduate students at Fresno State are Latino and the percentage is higher at Fresno City and Reedley colleges where the Latino student population is 53 percent and 71 percent. This places an emphasis on having a sizable amount of teachers that reflect the population in the area.

The grant will also allow all three campuses to hire advisers and counselors dedicated to serving the would-be teachers.

“The grant is putting resources in advisers that will help students throughout the program,” Lopez says. “Having cultural understanding, breaking language barriers and understanding financial restraints are important and we think of them as holistic resources for our teachers.”

The teacher program will start in 2019 with 30 students who will take community college classes for two years before transferring to Fresno State. Each of the three campuses will have a designated resident counselor and director to support students throughout the program. Lopez hopes that by recruiting students from the Fresno community that will lead to them teaching locally. She has already seen a positive reaction from teachers, former students that are now teachers and students that want to be part of the program,

“This pipeline program is huge not only for the state at-large but for our community here where many are asking how can I be apart of this,” Lopez said. “People want to be a part of the conversation here in the central valley and hopefully that leads to having more Latinos leading classrooms.”

READ: Officials Have Made Voting In This Latino Kansas Town So Difficult And A Judge Ruled Against Making Things Easier

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