The U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute this summer will provide free courses for parents of Hispanic students in New York, Los Angeles and Houston with the aim of combating the high school dropout rate.

"Many Hispanic students abandon their studies before they graduate ... and at times the parents don't know how to insist that they keep studying," USHLI director Juan Andrade told Efe.

In the seminars, for which distiller Chivas Regal has provided a subsidy of $30,000, assorted experts will advise parents to that they can have a greater influence on their children's education and will help them "acquire the knowledge and abilities needed to improve academic performance."

One of the things that will be dealt with in the courses will be the homework that students have to do outside school hours, usually at home.

"Parents have to be encouraged, if they cannot help (their children) with these tasks to find someone who can, so that the youngsters don't get discouraged," Andrade said.

The ultimate aim of the workshops is to contribute to having the students "finish their high school studies and establish higher education goals," he added.

According to the USHLI director, the institute has selected New York, Los Angeles and Houston because those cities "have some of the highest (dropout) figures for Hispanic students," but if the initiative is successful they are not ruling out implementing it in other cities around the United States.

USHLI, based in Chicago, promotes the development of Hispanic leaders, undertakes voter registration campaigns and fosters research into demographic data on Hispanics, among other things, Andrade said. 

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