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Latinos Join 55,000 Degrees Initiative: Behold 1500 Latinos

 Louisville’s Latino population is hoping to tackle its portion of the city’s  55,000 Degrees program. The  Behold 1500 Latinos program kicks off Wednesday night, where speakers will share how Jefferson County’s Latino population can overcome “barriers that hinder post-secondary participation.” The 55,000 Degrees initiative aims to improve education in Louisville by inspiring and supporting 55,000 new college graduates. Last year, the Urban League of Louisville announced that 15,000 of those new graduates will be African-American. Now the Behold 1500 Latinos initiative is doing the same for the county’s fastest-growing population. Ben Ruiz is helping lead the initiative. He’s co-founder of the Hispanic Latino Business Council. The first step. he said, is to raise awareness of the issue and then secure funding to support it. “Other states are well ahead of Kentucky. So we see that once we’re organized together I think we’ll start to see foundations and corporations even that are eager to help this population come forward,” said Ruiz. Because Jefferson County Public Schools already has over 6,000 Latino students enrolled, earning 1,500 degrees shouldn’t be a problem, he said. “Dr. Donna Hargens who heard about this, and who I talked to just last week, said that we’re going to hit this ball out of the ball park because she knows we’re going to go beyond 1,500,” he said. The Latino population in Louisville has doubled in the last decade, to 30,000.