WASHINGTON, March 8, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- At the 29th Annual NCLR (National Council of La Raza) Capital Awards gala, NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía honored Sens. Patty Murray (D–Wash.) and Lamar Alexander (R–Tenn.) for their leadership in passing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), landmark legislation that updates the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. The passage of the bill was an important victory for Latinos in 2015 because, for the first time, it requires that all states be held accountable for how well students learning English are performing in schools.
"NCLR, our Affiliates and countless other advocates worked with these two senators who led bipartisan cooperation on this bill, which could fundamentally improve the way children all across the nation—including for the first time English learners—are performing academically," said Murguía.
This year's honorees also included Sister Norma Pimentel, Executive Director of the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, who was recognized with the 2016 Capital Award for Public Service. In response to the thousands of unaccompanied children and families fleeing violence in Central America who arrived at the Southern border, Sister Pimentel organized relief efforts, opening a center for families in need of shelter, food, and medical care.
"As children came to our borders seeking protection from extreme violence, Sister Norma Pimentel sprung into action, offering compassion and support, while exemplifying the true values of this nation. Her humanitarian efforts should serve as a model for how our country handles refugees seeking safety," Murguía said.
Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D–N.Y.) also received special recognition for her leadership in advancing a solution to Puerto Rico's financial and humanitarian crisis. Velázquez has authored numerous bills designed to help ease the island's debt woes and has called on Washington to address the crisis.
"Rep. Velázquez has served as a voice for millions of Americans living on the island who, all too often, feel that they are forgotten," said Murguía. "She has recognized that what is happening in Puerto Rico is a humanitarian crisis and our lawmakers on Capitol Hill have a responsibility to help their fellow Americans."
NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. For more information on NCLR, please visit www.nclr.org or follow along on Facebook and Twitter.
SOURCE National Council of La Raza