July 21-22, 2017 | New York, NY


Today, one in four children living in the United States, under the age of 18, is Latino. By 2050 it is projected that more than one in three will be Latino. With Latinos representing the second largest population group in the nation, the future success and vitality of our communities and the country are intrinsically tied to this segment of the population. The decisions being made today about how to best educate and prepare the youngest members of society for the future will result in long lasting effects. In the face of new federal policies and priorities, from child care to K-12 education, there are critical leadership and oversight decisions that are being redirected to state and local policymakers. Latino policymakers serving at the state and local levels have the influence and opportunity to set legislative priorities and drive the momentum to accelerate the educational attainment and success for students of all ages.

To lead this charge effectively, policymakers must be familiar with innovative and successful policies and practices that can drive change in their local communities as they advocate for an educational system where all students have the opportunity to thrive and succeed. This regional two-day convening included state legislators, county and municipal officials, and school board members from the following states: Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia. This convening is part of the NALEO Education Leadership Initiative (NELI) which aims to provide Latino public servants with the enhanced capacity and governance skills they need to become effective advocates for their students, families, and communities from birth to college.

The Institute’s program covered the following topics:

Day One – Early Childhood Education:

  • The Imperative of Starting Early: Foundations of Early Childhood Education
  • Developing Healthy Environments: Strategies to Prevent and Address Toxic Stress
  • School Discipline in the Early Years: Leaving No Child Behind
  • Meeting the Needs of Undocumented Children and Families

Day Two – College and Career Readiness:

  • ESSA 101: What is in the Law? Why does it Matter?
  • Leading for Equity from All Levels of Education Policymaking
  • Leveraging Opportunities in ESSA: Table Conversations
  • Deep Dive on ESSA and English Language Learners
  • Diverse Perspectives on Education Equity
  • What’s Next on ESSA?

Participants strengthened their governance skills to support effective leadership, received timely information, learned best practices, and exchanged legislative policies and ideas around the most effective ways to address pressing educational issues. Participants also had the opportunity to network with colleagues and experts from throughout the Northeast United States.


Title Sponsors


  • Friday, July 21
  • Saturday, July 22

8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
Studio Foyer, Concourse Level

Registration & Breakfast

9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Studio 1 & 2, Concourse Level

Welcome Remarks

• Hon. Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, Councilmember, City of New York, New York; Former Vice President, NALEO

• Mr. Arturo Vargas, Executive Director, NALEO Educational Fund

9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Studio 1 & 2, Concourse Level

Session I:


The Imperative of Starting Early: Foundations of Early Childhood Education


There is growing research demonstrating the short and long-term benefits of early childhood education for children, families, and communities. Evidence shows that a child’s brain has the greatest potential to grow by the age of three and it is in these first three years of life that children’s brains must be exposed to quality interactions to stimulate and strengthen brain development, an important precursor of school readiness. This session provided an overview of brain development research and highlighted the best approaches to setting up children for lifelong success.

Session Chair:
Hon. Christopher Rosario, Connecticut State Representative; Chair, Black and Puerto Rican Caucus

• Dr. Amelia Bachleda, Outreach and Education Specialist, Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, University of Washington

Additional Resources: 1 | 2 | 3

AECF State Profiles: Connecticut | Delaware | Maryland | Massachusetts | New Jersey | New York | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | Texas | Virginia

NIEER State Profiles: Connecticut | Delaware | Maryland | Massachusetts | New Jersey | New York | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | Texas | Virginia

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Studio 1 & 2, Concourse Level

Session II:


Developing Healthy Environments: Strategies to Prevent and Address Toxic Stress


Young children exposed to healthy and nurturing environments develop the foundation needed for positive brain development and school readiness. Exposure to factors such as poverty, abuse, neglect, and family separation can trigger the development of toxic stress in young children and can have lasting emotional, social, physical, and cognitive effects. Recognizing the limitations of a child’s environment is important, but strides can be made when the strengths their families and communities hold are uplifted to tackle the factors associated with toxic stress. This session provided an overview of the research on toxic stress and ways in which policymakers can develop policies to support healthy environments while strengthening family, community, and cultural connections.

Session Chair:
Hon. Jeffrey Sánchez, Massachusetts State Representative; Chair, Joint Committee on Healthcare and Financing; Board Member, NALEO

• Dr. Leonell Torres-Pagán, Research Associate, Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College, The City University of New York (CUNY)

• Dr. Heather Koball, Director, Family Economic Security, National Center for Children in Poverty, Columbia University

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Studio 3 & 4, Concourse Level

Luncheon Program:


Census 2020, Make it Count

• Mr. Arturo Vargas, Executive Director, NALEO Educational Fund

1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Studio 1 & 2, Concourse Level

Session III:


School Discipline in the Early Years: Leaving No Child Behind


The earliest years of a child’s education experience lay a critical foundation for later success in school. When the youngest students are suspended from early childhood education settings, they lose out on the opportunity to gain important skills and experiences with their peers. Recognizing and addressing the factors and risks that these students face can help us work toward better long-term outcomes for children and communities. This session equipped policymakers with best practices and policy recommendations to ensure children do not lose valuable time in school and that we promote the optimal development, learning, and overall wellbeing of all young children.

Session Chair:
Hon. Marcos Crespo, New York State Assemblymember; Chair, Puerto Rican and Hispanic Taskforce

• Dr. Chin Regina Reyes, Associate Research Scientist, Yale Child Study Center

• Ms. Lauren Hogan, Senior Director, Public Policy and Advocacy, National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)

Additional Resources: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Studio 1 & 2, Concourse Level

Session IV:


Meeting the Needs of Undocumented Children and Families


Across the United States there are approximately 5.1 million children living with at least one parent who is undocumented. Regardless of citizenship status, current law allows for children residing in the country to have access to educational services, health care, and child care settings. Given the long-term benefits of access to quality health care and early childhood education, greater awareness of services is necessary among mixed-status families. This session offered policymakers with an opportunity to learn more about the resources available to immigrant families and the policies that regulate the access to educational and child care settings for mixed-status and undocumented families.

Session Chair:
Hon. Nellie Pou, New Jersey State Senator; Chair, Latino Legislative Caucus

• Dr. Jacqueline Jones, President and Chief Executive Officer, Foundation for Child Development

• Ms. Wendy Cervantes, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

• Ms. Jackie Vimo, Economic Justice Policy Analyst, National Immigration Law Center (NILC)

Additional Resource1

AFT Resources: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

CLASP Resources: 1 | 2 | 3

NILC Resources1 | 2 | 3

4:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Studio 1 & 2, Concourse Level

Institute Wrap-Up for the Day

5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Wall & Water Main, 2nd Level

Opening Reception

Alliance for Early Success
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
State Farm™

Opening Reception Patron:
Wells Fargo

Opening Reception Donor:
American Federation of Teachers