Actress and philanthropist Eva Longoria. (Photo/Getty Images)

Eva Longoria sponsors UCLA study to find key to Latinas’ educational success

Actress Eva Longoria has funded a new study in conjunction with the University of California-Los Angeles in an effort to shed more light on barriers preventing Latinas pursuing higher education.

Through her Eva Longoria Foundation, Longoria commissioned a report titled “Making Education Work for Latinas in the U.S.,” for which researchers examined factors contributing to and affecting Latinas’ educational success.

“We were frustrated to primarily find analysis of what does not work for Latinas, and we wanted to find out what does,” Longoria said in a statement. “The findings from this study will help us fine-tune our education work, and we hope others will use this research to support Latina achievement.”

The study researchers found that there was a direct correlation between parents’ belief in their daughter’s ability to graduate high school and high school graduation rates. Good math scores during the elementary school years and bilingualism were also “positive indicators of Latina college-going success,” researchers concluded. The study also found that involvement in after-school and extracurricular activities helped bolster a sense of “belonging” in school, a factor “found missing for many Latinas.”

RELATED: Eva Longoria graduates, earns Master’s degree in Chicano Studies

As the largest minority group in the United States, Latinos are the majority of all students in New Mexico, Texas and California. While Latino high school graduation rates are on the rise – and are higher than rates for Native Americans and African-Americans – there has been a “decline in the overall percentage of these students who enroll in college as a proportion of their population,” the UCLA study found.

And raising educational attainment rates among Latinas is a priority that “cannot be underestimated,” said Patricia Gándara, a UCLA professor of education and the study’s principal investigator.

“Latinas are the linchpin of the next generation — how a child fares in school is highly correlated with their mother’s education,” Gándara said

“If the cycle of under-education is to be broken for the Latino population, it will depend to a large extent on changing the fortunes of young women.”

 RELATED: Latino high school grads surpass whites in college enrollment rate

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