Investing in Representative Leadership to Further Education Outcomes
March 23, 2021
Bethesda, MD – Investing in leadership has been one of the Crimsonbridge Foundation’s key strategies for achieving positive impact in communities since its founding. Representation in leadership has been central to this work. Over the past five years, we’ve worked with leadership organizations to develop intentional and effective strategies for creating welcoming environments, improving outreach and marketing, and successfully increasing the enrollment and participation of nonprofit leaders of diverse and underrepresented backgrounds. The positive outcomes of this ongoing work in nonprofit leadership development also have implications for the Foundation’s work in education.
The Crimsonbridge Foundation launched the Education Imperative in 2016 to help schools, families, and the Catholic church address an enrollment disparity in Catholic education. In the United States, 60% of Catholics under the age of 18 identify as Latino, but only 16.8% of students who attend Catholic schools are Latino. The Education Imperative takes a multi-pronged approach to bolster school capacity, increase student enrollment, and strengthen Latino family engagement in Catholic schools. To date, the program has supported mentorship and training for school principals, presidents, and pastors. Studies reveal a growing need to develop programs and pathways to attract, develop, and retain more leaders of diverse backgrounds in education. In 2020, two unique partnership opportunities with organizations that share the education and leadership goals of the Foundation arose with Boston College and the University of Notre Dame.
This year, Boston College’s Roche Center for Catholic Education will conduct a national study that examines pathways to increase the presence of Hispanic teachers and leaders in Catholic schools. This research builds upon a previous study on Hispanic families and Catholic schools that was released in 2016, which found that leadership is a critical component for building a school culture that is welcoming and meets the needs of all students.
“As the Catholic experience in the United States becomes increasingly Hispanic, Catholic schools are uniquely positioned to model ways to empower a new generation of Catholic leaders for church and society, just as they did in the past. We often speak of Catholic schools educating Hispanic children and youth, yet we have not given enough attention to how our schools welcome and support Hispanic teachers and administrators," said, Melodie Wyttenbach, Executive Director of the Roche Center for Catholic Education at Boston College. "Our study aims at addressing this research gap. We are convinced that the better we understand how Hispanic teachers and school leaders find pathways into Catholic schools, the better positioned these institutions will be to serve the needs of a culturally diverse church."
The University of Notre Dame’s Latino Educator and Administrator Development (LEAD) program aims to strengthen the Latino voice in both the classroom and school level nationally. This year-long professional development program is designed to invite, advance, and retain Latino educators in Catholic schools, as well as develop a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges that exist in this landscape. “The mission of cultivating more inclusive spaces and amplifying voices that have been historically underrepresented is central to the mission of Catholic schools and that of our new LEAD program,” said Itzxul Moreno, Program Director of LEAD. “It is our hope and goal that our LEADers find this space to be one where their identities are embraced, their professional skills empowered, and their spirits energized to grow as leaders.” LEAD will partner with the Crimsonbridge Foundation and the Archdiocese of Washington to identify candidates from the region to participate in its next cohort, as well as provide an additional professional development opportunity for the wider Catholic school community focused on strategies for recruitment and retention of staff with representation in mind.
“We see these two partnerships as an opportunity to identify lever points for positive change in Catholic education. Increasing representation in classrooms and school leadership is a key strategy to ensure that schools are inclusive and welcoming for all families,” says Senior Program Officer Caitlin Mayo.
The Crimsonbridge Foundation’s Education Imperative program takes a whole community approach to increase student enrollment and Hispanic family engagement in Catholic schools through innovative linguistic, cultural, and professional development strategies, collaboration with key partners and stakeholders, and tuition assistance.