News Release

UnidosUS Announces the Launch of the National Institute for Latino School Leaders in California

Fellowship will focus on English learner advocacy

February 4, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC—UnidosUS (formerly National Council of La Raza), the nation’s largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization, announced today the expansion of the National Institute for Latino School Leaders (NILSL) to the state of California.

NILSL is the only institute that prepares experienced education and community leaders to advocate for national- and state-level policies to strengthen the education of Latino students, dual language learners and English learners (ELs). The NILSL-CA will adhere to the fellowship’s core mission, with an important focus on EL advocacy. The launch of NILSL-CA is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Sobrato Family Foundation.

Almost five million students across the country are ELs. California is home to the highest share, with ELs making up 20 percent of the state’s total public-school enrollment. This puts the state in a unique position to shape and strengthen EL education and policies. The NILSL-CA fellowship will bring together a diverse group of candidates, including seasoned teachers, nonprofit leaders, principals and student affairs professionals, and equip them with the advocacy tools they need to advance education equity for Latino students and ELs in California.

“We are proud to bring our successful NILSL fellowship to California and break ground in the state’s education policy arena, particularly on issues impacting the nearly 1.4 million English learner students that reside in the state. We are especially grateful to the Sobrato Family Foundation for their partnership and shared commitment to improving educational opportunities for all students, no matter their background,” said Peggy R. McLeod, Vice President, Education, Workforce Development and Evaluation, UnidosUS.

To support the work of the NILSL-CA program and provide guidance on the implementation of California’s EL Roadmap, UnidosUS has convened the Las Madrinas Senior Advisory Council. The Madrinas Council is made up of state and district leaders as well as national advocates who have championed education outcomes for Latino Students, dual language learners, and ELs. Members of the Madrinas Senior Advisory Council include Catalina Cifuentes, Riverside County Office of Education; Hilda Maldonado, Los Angeles Unified School District; Dr. Karla Estrada, California Collaborative for Educational Excellence; Dr. Rosita Ramirez, NALEO Educational Fund; Delia Pompa, Migration Policy Institute and Martha Zaragoza-Diaz, Zaragoza-Diaz and Associates.

Learn more here.

UnidosUS, previously known as NCLR (National Council of La Raza), is the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization. Through its unique combination of expert research, advocacy, programs, and an Affiliate Network of nearly 300 community-based organizations across the United States and Puerto Rico, UnidosUS simultaneously challenges the social, economic, and political barriers that affect Latinos at the national and local levels. For more than 50 years, UnidosUS has united communities and different groups seeking common ground through collaboration, and that share a desire to make our country stronger. For more information on UnidosUS, visit or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Gabriela Gomez
(202) 776-1732