Marines celebrate diversity at NCLR Conference
By Sgt. Matt Griffin
| Marine Corps Recruiting Command | July 21, 2003
AUSTIN, Texas --
Marine Corps Recruiting continued to foster its relationship with the Hispanic community July 12-15 during the National Council of La Raza's 25th Annual Conference held at the Austin Convention Center here.
The NCLR is the largest constituency-based national organization for Hispanics in the United States. The organization is dedicated to reducing poverty and improving life opportunities for Hispanic Americans, according to the NCLR's mission statement.
"We are proud of our partnership with the NCLR," said Major General Christopher Cortez, commanding general of Marine Corps Recruiting Command. "Our longstanding relationship with the NCLR has allowed us to highlight opportunities for Hispanics in the Marine Corps."
Marine Corps participation with the NCLR is valuable because it creates an "awareness of the diversity in the Marine Corps," said Capt. Cornell Payne, marketing officer for Marine Corps Recruiting Command in Quantico, VA.
Evidence that the Marines were involved in full force was obvious to everyone walking into the main exhibition hall, as the inflatable Marine Corps Drill Instructor towered high among the many booths and exhibitions. To attract visitors to the Marine Corps setup, area recruiters were on hand for the Corps' most widely used marketing contest, the Chin-Up Challenge, which garnered more than 300 age-qualified leads, according to Kina McCanns a J. Walter Thompson representative for the Marine Corps' advertising agency. Hundreds of incentive items such as t-shirts and hats were also awarded to visitors who successfully participated in the contest.
Just being present and interacting with Hispanic influencers and families has other benefits for Marine Corps recruiting.
"Traditionally, Hispanic families are very close, when they support the Marine Corps, they help us," said Payne. "We're hands on and interactive with local community involvement," he added.
Additionally, convention visitors were able to learn about officer programs in the Marine Corps, as the Austin, Texas Officer Selection Office had a booth set up to talk to those looking for information about a career as a Marine officer.
"We've been very active in increasing awareness of programs for Hispanics in the Marine Corps," said Capt. Chad Comunale, officer selection officer in Austin. "Events like this get the word out to the entire community about what the Marine Corps can offer."
The Marine Corps has close ties to the Hispanic community, with 14% of enlisted Marines and 5.5% of Marine officers coming from a Hispanic background, according to the Marine Corps Concept and Programs guidebook for 2003. The Marine Corps also produces recruiting materials in Spanish, to further the Corps' relationship with the Hispanic community.
"Every day more than 23,000 Hispanics make many successful contributions to the Marine Corps," Payne said. "This event highlights the Corps' long-standing relationship with the Hispanic community and helps continue to increase awareness towards our recruiting efforts."