Last month we reported that 16 DC area schools have received Bridges for Schools grants to support strategic Spanish and bilingual communications capacity building. Since 2018, this funding has helped participating Catholic schools invest in strategies and resources to create a welcoming environment, promote engagement and participation of Hispanic families, and increase enrollment of Hispanic students.
What do these investments look like? That’s the exciting part! Bridges for Schools grants are tailored, so that each school has the opportunity to determine their specific needs and identify resources. Over the past two years, these schools have found research-based and creative ways to expand their Spanish-language resources, marketing, and outreach. A vast majority of the schools use funding for human translation of school marketing and enrollment materials, which helps to ensure equitable access for Spanish-speaking families. Many schools are adding original Spanish-language content to their website, and one school will produce a Spanish-language video for their website. Other schools have chosen to hire Spanish-speaking liaisons or to provide stipends for translators at schools open houses and other events.
This month, we’re featuring two Bridges for Schools recipients, who have used their $2,500 grant to successfully develop their Spanish language communications capacity and outreach.
Saint Michael’s School – Latino Liaison has Transformative Impact
Since becoming the school principal in 2006, Lila Hofmeister has worked to create a welcoming environment for all families, especially the increasing number of Latino students and families in their school community. For years, Saint Michael’s relied on volunteers to provide Spanish-language support in the school office. When Saint Michael’s applied for Bridges for Schools in 2018, they requested funding to hire a part-time bilingual Latino Liaison to work in the front office and create a bridge between Spanish-speaking parents and school faculty. Although the new employee was only in the office for 12 hours each week, she had an immediate and transformative impact on the school. From translating the school’s weekly newsletter to hosting events that bring together the parish and school communities, the role of the Latino Liaison has become essential. This year, Saint Michael’s received additional funding through Bridges for Schools to increase the role to nearly full-time. After the 2018-19 school year, Principal Hofmeister shared that hiring “a Latino Liaison has positively impacted our total school environment, enabling all staff to widely communicate with our families. We are able to actively engage our students and parents in school activities and encourage their participation when they may otherwise be hesitant.” Removing barriers to parent engagement is truly making a difference at Saint Michael’s.
Academy of the Holy Cross – Bilingual Parent Ambassadors Connect with Community
In 2018, the Academy of the Holy Cross used the Bridges for Schools grant to add Spanish-language content to the school website, translate admissions information, host open houses with Spanish-language translators, and launch a Parent Ambassador program that includes bilingual parents from the school community. In 2019, Holy Cross will continue their great work with the Parent Ambassadors Program. As explained by Danielle Ballantine, the school’s Director of Communications, “the Parent Ambassador Program at The Academy of the Holy Cross is an important way for us to connect with the community. We have over 45 parents, including several bilingual parents, who are already sharing their enthusiasm about Holy Cross and are actively involved both here and in their elementary and parish communities. Ambassadors provide prospective families their own personal experiences for navigating the high school selection process. Through the Parent Ambassador Program, we hope to continue to strengthen our relationships within the Latino community and further increase applications and enrollments of Latino students.” The Parent Ambassadors Program is just one example of how Holy Cross is working towards their mission to create a welcoming environment within and beyond the school bounds.