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2014 hispanic heritage month essay contest now open

The Nebraska Latino American Commission invites the youth of Nebraska to participate in the 8th Annual Hispanic Heritage Month State Commemoration Essay Contest

For our theme, we have chosen quotes from two influential Hispanic leaders: Jaime Escalante and Frida Kahlo. Please choose one of the quotes below and tell us what their words mean to you:

  1. Jaime Escalante: Educator – “One of the greatest things you have in life is that no one has the authority to tell you what you want to be. You’re the one who’ll decide what you want to be. Respect yourself and respect the integrity of others as well. The greatest thing you have is your self-image, a positive opinion of yourself. You must never let anyone take it from you.”
  2. Frida Kahlo: Artist – “I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”

Essay: When writing your essay, please answer one or more of these questions: Both quotes deal with self-reflection. How does your heritage and culture reflect who you are as a person? How has society or current events impacted your self-image as an ethnically diverse individual? What do Frida’s or Jaime’s words mean to you and have they influenced your opinion of Hispanic Heritage Month?

Eligibility: Students of all ethnicities currently enrolled in a Nebraska public, private or magnet school (grades 6 – 12). Entries welcome in English or Spanish, and must include a signed entry form (see attachment) (ver anexo).

Rules: Essays must be original, typed or legibly handwritten, and double-spaced. The word length is 250 – 400 words for middle school students, and 500 – 700 words for high school students. We reserve the right to disqualify essays that contain offensive language, political messages, or derogatory statements. A blind jury will judge the essays based on grammar, content, creativity, and cohesion to the theme.

Awards: Cash prizes, certificates, Kindle E-Readers, and McDonald’s gift cards will be given to six winners. Winning students will be recognized at the Hispanic Heritage Month State Commemoration scheduled for October 10, 2014 at the Nebraska Capitol Building in Lincoln. First place winners will be asked to read their essay at the Commemoration and McDonald’s will publish first place winning essays on their tray liners. The Commission reserves the right to edit essays for fitting purposes.

Printable Version of Contest Details Here

Copia de las Directrices

Submission: All essays due by Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 5 P.M. Essays and entry forms may be submitted by email to, via fax at 402-471-4381, or mailed to:

Nebraska Latino American Commission
ATT: Hispanic Heritage Month Essay Contest
P.O. Box 94965
Lincoln, NE 68509-4965

latino commission accepting 2014 award nominations

The 8th Annual Hispanic Heritage Month State Commemoration will take place on Friday, October 10, 2014 at the State Capitol Rotunda. We are currently seeking nominations for the 2014 Hispanic Heritage Month Awards. Please explain in 350 words or less why you believe this individual or organization should receive one of the following awards below.

Nominations may be submitted by Nebraska residents of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds statewide.

Nomination Deadline: 5 p.m. on Monday, September 22, 2014.


Humanitarian Award
This award honors an individual who has enhanced multicultural understanding, communication, and social justice in Nebraska. Printable Criteria:
  • Dedication has led to improvements in the quality of life within the Hispanic community
  • Promotion of equality, social justice, human dignity and diversity in the community
  • Exemplify, through actions, the role of a humanitarian and leader for the Hispanic community
  • Achievement of cross-cultural understanding in the community
  • Advocate for underrepresented youth, especially Hispanic youth
Event Award
This award honors an individual or organization who has broadened cross-cultural understanding through an event, exhibit or body of work on issues affecting the Hispanic population or promoting the beauty of Hispanic culture.
  • The promotion of Hispanic heritage, culture and community locally or statewide
  • Publicly recognized a group or individual in the Hispanic community bringing positive attention
  • Event, exhibit or body of work bridging cultural understanding between communities
  • Eliminating myths and stereotypes through factual information provided in a large setting
  • Advocating or bringing attention to topic(s) affecting the Hispanic community
Inspiration Award
For an individual who has gone above and beyond promoting diversity and helping individuals within the Hispanic community. Preferance is, but not limited to, educators.Printable criteria:
  • Actions have benefited Hispanic individuals in the local community
  • Improved opportunities for academic and social advancement among Hispanic youth
  • Serves as a role model to Nebraskans of all ages
  • Has worked to keep Latin American culture and heritage alive in Nebraska
  • Has organized support groups or fundraisers to benefit a group, individual or issue affecting the Hispanic community
Organization Award
Honor an organization (community, student, non-profit, church, etc.) that has helped the Hispanic community with education, advocacy, healthcare, or awareness. Printable criteria.
  • Provides classes or programs to benefit the Hispanic community
  • Advocate for social justice, equality and cultural understanding locally or statewide
  • Achieved improvements in academic or social opportunities among underrepresented youth
  • Provided direction, access, support and/or service to Hispanic individuals
  • Assisted in helping recent immigrants settle in new surroundings

The Hispanic Heritage Month Committee will review the nominations and make the final selection. For additional information, call Jasel Cantu at 402-471-2791. Send Nominations via email to or to:

Jasel Cantu, Hispanic Heritage Month Committee Co-Chair

Nebraska Latino-American Commission

State Capitol, 6th Floor, P.O. Box 94965

Lincoln, NE 68509-4965



A memo sent from the U.S. Dept. of Education and the U.S. Dept. of Justice would like to remind the public and school employees that school districts cannot inquire on a student or parents' immigration or citizenship status as a means of establishing a students' residency in the district.

As stated in the government document (Espanol): A school district may ask for proof of residency to establish that you and your child live within the district, but they cannot ask for your child's citizenship or immigration status to establish residency. Información sobre los derechos de todos los niños a matricularse en la escuela

What Can I Use To Establish Residency? 
Parents can use lease agreements, phone or water bills, state ID or driver's license, affidavits, or other documents to establish residency; just not immigration or citizenship status.

Social Security Numbers? 
Regarding Social Security Numbers, schools districts may request social security numbers but they must inform parents that providing a social security number is VOLUNTARY and refusing to provide a number will not bar the child from becoming a student at the school. Parents also must be informed what purpose the social security number will be used for if the parent shares the information.
Federal Protection - Fact Sheet  
Under Federal law, State and local educational agencies (hereinafter "districts") are required to provide all children with equal access to public education at the elementary and secondary level. Recently, we have become aware of student enrollment practices that may chill or discourage the participation, or lead to the exclusion, of students based on their or their parents' or guardians' actual or perceived citizenship or immigration status. These practices contravene Federal law. Both the United States Department of Justice and the United States Department of Education (Departments) write to remind you of the Federal obligation to provide equal educational opportunities to all children residing within your district and to offer our assistance in ensuring that you comply with the law. 

If you believe that a school district is violating Federal law, you may contact the following government agencies:

1. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Educational Opportunities Section
Telephone: (877) 292-3804 (toll-free) Fax: (202) 514-8337 Email:

2. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights
Telephone: (800) 421-3481 (toll-free) or Email:

3. If you wish to fill out a complaint form online with the Department of Education, you may do so at:

4. Department of Education, Office of the General Counsel
Telephone: (202) 401-6000 Fax: (202) 205-2689


The State of Nebraska Governor's Office has released a list of current and upcoming openings on Boards and Commissions that are appointed by the Governor.

The Latino American Commission is also accepting applications for Commissioner. The responsibilities of a Commissioner includes attending our Quarterly Meetings, participating in general discussions and meeting with state legislators concerning legislation affecting Latinos. Our meetings take place in different cities throughout the year. Commissioners are reimbursed for travel expenses and overnight lodging. Applicant qualifications include being a good civic citizen/steward with an awareness of local issues, and have a strong desire to get involved with issues concerning Latinos within the state of Nebraska.

Commissioner duties include providing direction and evaluation concerning policies affecting the Latino population in the following areas: existing programs, proposed legislation, educational needs and impact of new immigration meetings.

Commissioners are appointed by the state Governor for a period of three years.

If interested, please complete the online application prior to the end of the month of their deadlines:

September 2014:
Nebraska Arts Council
Early Childhood Interagency Coordinating Council
Economic Forecasting Advisory Board
Electrical Board
Equal Opportunity Commission
GIS Geographic Information System Council
Commission on Indian Affairs
Board of Landscape Architects
Natural Gas Fuel Board
State Board of Public Accountancy
SERC - State Emergency Response Commission
Suggestion Award Board

If you have questions about requirements for any of the Boards or Commissions listed please contact Kathleen Dolezal at 402-471-1971 or email:

NET special segment on Dia de los Muertos

NET Television presents a special segment of "Nebraska Stories" on Dia de los Muertos celebrated in Nebraska. Dia de los Muertos is, above all, a celebration of life. Come with us to the Sheldon Museum of Art and the Bancroft Gallery in South Omaha as we look death in the eye with humor, music, dancing—and art.

NLAC collaborated with NET to help bring the special segment to the public, "Nebraska Stories" available in its entirety below:

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