NHI History

 NHI History

The National Hispanic Institute (NHI) was founded on July 20, 1979 by Ernesto Nieto and a few colleagues who were originally part of an effort to create a community leadership structure for Latinos in Texas. In 1981, high school youth became the focus of the newly established organization in Austin through a pilot project called the Austin Young Leaders Conference. Part of this project included a mock youth legislative session that was named the Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session (LDZ). This LDZ pilot experience took place in 1982 at the Texas state capitol. A few years later, the Collegiate World Series (CWS) for emerging high school seniors was also piloted at Southwestern University in 1991. By then the LDZ had spilled over into New Mexico and Colorado. Throughout the mid-1990s NHI opened LDZ and CWS in California while also launching abroad studies programs in Monterrey, Mexico in partnership with El Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey. By the 2000s, NHI’s reach had extended to New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Arizona, and Indiana. Aboard studies now included sites in Spain and Argentina. NHI’s Collaborative Research Center was launched publishing reports on youth communities, leadership, and social trends among the Latino community. 

Important to NHI as far back as its founding was to neither rely on government or the charity of private foundations and corporations for its financial support. Instead, NHI became market-driven in its approach to community development through a tuition and fee structure that was affordable to most working Latino families. A second feature of the organization was to establish a strong volunteer support system comprised mainly of former participants to help guide the growth of its programs. And finally, NHI joined forces with colleges and universities eager to identify and marshal the caliber of Latino youth with the academic performance capacities to make strong undergraduate college students.

With only 90 students comprising the first class of participants in 1981, NHI today serves well over 3,000 high school students a year. And while the Lone Star State remains strong among the population annually attending the organization’s summer programs, the mix of students represent 26 U.S. states and 7 Latin American nations, but the mix of nationalities is also representative of the many cultural influences that makes up today’s modern Latino community.

More important than any other aspect of the organization’s makeup and history is the caliber of youth in attendance. The fact is that enrollment is not automatic or ‘free’. Thus, students find themselves competing for admission needing a 3.3 GPA as the minimum requirement for acceptance. More important is the college placement history of these young people. Over 98% enroll in college after high school, with 90% completing their undergraduate requirements in 4 to 5 years. Approximately 67% or better continue into advanced studies. Altogether this mass of over 100,000 of bright, forward looking youth spill into our nation’s professional sectors and form the reservoir of human talent from which the Latino community can today select its future community leaders. 

P.O. Box 220 Maxwell, TX 78656 · Tel: 512-357-6137 · Fax: 512-357-2206 · E-mail: info@nhimail.com