Behind the HITEC Foundation
Story By: Jose Madero
In a world where technology rules, Hispanics may seem to some to have been left behind.
But not if HITEC can help it. In fact, the organization is geared toward helping Latinos become not only technologically savvy, but to become the leaders in these fields.
To ensure that, the organization, comprised of senior business and IT executives, is raising funds to award scholar-ships to the next generation of Latinos. It has set its sights on the Cristo Rey schools, a group of Catholic College preparatory schools with 10,700 students across 21 states.
Cristo Rey recruits students from economically disadvantaged families. Through rigorous training and other programs, the schools prepare them for college in several fields.
Andre Arbelaez, president of HITEC, says that the organization selected the Cristo Rey schools as because of their success history. The schools are noted for instilling in students a culture of work ethic, study and respect, with many students already dressing like junior executives during classes.
“The delivery of incredible students who have difficult income situations and 100% college acceptance rates across the country,” Arbelaez says.
Latinos in Technology
The mantra held by some in the corporate and technological world is that Latinos are just not into technology, hence the lack of students going into those fields. Arbelaez does not believe that.
“At a high level that is the narrative. I believe the reality is a lot of corporations don’t send recruiters to colleges that are part of the Hispanic association of Colleges and Universities,” he says. There’s talent out. That’s part of this overall process. It’s an effort that needs more guidance and leadership. The reality is there is a lot of outpour. We need to push, even our own internal companies to look to these places.”
HITEC began in 2007. The organization was able to hold their first event in New York that year and ever since it has been “a great ride,” Arbelaez says.
HITEC brings together a family of people in technology who are like-minded. It brings companies. Mentorship pro-grams and helps develop relationships, geared toward helping Latinos grow in the technology world.
That’s why raising funds and giving scholarships to 27 different Cristo Rey schools is so important, he says.
“The audience of executive level Hispanics that we have created, an opportunity to recognize one’s obligation and responsibility to support the next generation of students that may have not been as fortunate as we have been.
HITEC’s 3 Pillars
Pillar 1 – Scholarships and Grants
The HITEC Foundation is committed to early academic engagement of Hispanic youth as well as their persistence through degree completion. At the middle-school level, it provides grants so that students can attend technology-based summer camps. It also awards college scholarships to Hispanic high school students who have a demonstrated interest in and talent for STEM. In order to retain college and university STEM students, the HITEC Foundation provides internship and mentorship opportunities with its corporate partners, thereby ensuring a smoother transition into technical careers.
Pillar 2 – Technical and Educational Resources
Feeding the pipeline begins by cultivating an early interest in STEM especially among underserved middle and high schools with high Hispanic populations. The HITEC Foundation is committed to improving access to technology, whether by establishing Wi-Fi connectivity or providing computers and soft-ware to schools with high Hispanic enrollment. It also delivers STEM educational materials to supplement the local school curriculum and hands-on, computer-based activities that bring to life the math and science lessons learned in the classroom.
Pillar 3 – Executive Development
To increase Hispanic representation on corporate boards, the HITEC Foundation collaborates with HITEC on the Emerging Executive Program (EEP). The program identifies Hispanic IT leaders who demonstrate high desire, initiative and potential to advance into executive positions. In addition to mentorship and executive coaching, EEP participants interact with senior IT executives and business leaders. The program offers a safe environment for Hispanics to seek and exchange guidance on career-related issues. They come away with a deeper understanding of how corporate executives use core IT competencies and performance metrics to improve their organizations.