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Sunday, October 7, 2012 - 11:00pm

Savannah Launches Latino Student Program

Public education officials in Southeast Georgia have kicked off an ambitious program to double the number of Latino students enrolling in and completing college.

The Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation is funding the effort with a $600,000 grant.

Armstrong Atlantic and Savannah State Universities and Savannah Technical College are leading the program called CAMINO.

It aims at putting more Latinos in college and helping them finish once in school.

Its director Ruth Duran-Deffley says one of the program's more novel efforts involves getting mostly low-income parents to understand the benefits of their working-age kids going to college.

"Their earning potential will grow exponentially once they're done with college," Duran-Deffley says. "But that's really hard to understand if you're a family in need and you want that money right away."

CAMINO will use on a mix of scholarships, outreach and mentoring as its main thrust.

"We're multiple universities working with multiple high schools with the support of the non-profit sector and private sector," Duran-Deffley says. "We hope that collectively, we'll be able to move the needle on Latino student success."

Public schools in Chatham, Liberty, Tattnall and Toombs County are partners in the four year funded program