Engage Breakfast April 4 to cover growing Hispanic population

The growing Hispanic population in Central Texas will be the topic of the April 4 Engage Breakfast, an event organized by Leadership Austin—a local nonprofit focused on community leadership.

Geronimo Rodriguez, chairman of the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said the Hispanic population is growing in Central Texas along with Hispanic businesses.

"I think it's important because 65 percent of the demographic growth in the past 10 years [in Texas] has been because of the Hispanic community," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said the Hispanic population, both as consumers and business owners, have about a $13.5 billion economic impact in Central Texas. By 2020, that impact is expected to increase to about $30 billion.

The panel will include Perla Cavazos, legislative director with state Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston; Paul Cruz, chief schools officer with Austin Independent School District; Mando Rayo, vice president of of engagement with Cultural Strategies—a marketing and communications firm; and Rodriguez. The discussion will be moderated by KXAN-TV morning anchor Sally Hernandez.

Cruz said education is an important aspect when looking at the growing Hispanic population.

"With the growing number of Hispanic students, we have a growing number who are English language learners," Cruz said. "With that, we have to make sure we have the programs that build on native language instruction and teach students the English language."

Cruz said AISD has seen an improvement in Hispanic graduation rates and education through targeting the needs of that particular demographic.

The breakfast will begin at 7:30 a.m. in the Kodosky Lounge at the Long Center for the Performing Arts, 701 W. Riverside Drive. Tickets cost $25 for general admission and $20 for a Leadership Austin Alumni Association member. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.leadershipaustin.org/programs/engage/upcoming.

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