NEWS

Schools Strengthen Connection with Hispanic Families

In 2018, the Crimsonbridge Foundation awarded more than $20,000 in grants through its Bridges for Schools program, which provides communications capacity building support to schools to serve, reach, engage, and enroll Hispanic students and families. The Foundation partnered with 12 Catholic elementary and high schools in the Archdiocese of Washington that collectively serve more than 5,000 students across DC and three counties in Maryland.

One year later, schools are sharing stories of impact through photos, translated documents, and quotes.

Spanish-language communications materials created through Bridges for Schools included marketing brochures, enrollment and financial aid information, Parent Handbooks, and monthly newsletters for families. Additionally, several schools provided stipends for school representatives to translate for parents at school events.

“This grant opened my eyes as a teacher to how I am and can be communicating with my current Spanish speaking families,” said Jennifer Eller, 8th grade teacher at Holy Redeemer School. “It also allowed us to welcome more people into our community.”

SHINE THE LIGHT: Leadership Matters

Saint Michael’s, a K-8 school in St. Mary’s County, MD, used the Bridges for Schools grant to hire a part-time employee who could provide Spanish-language assistance in the school front office. Principal Lila Hofmeister realized this need when she noticed parents bringing bilingual friends or children to the school office in order to communicate with school staff. Saint Michael’s has the highest Hispanic enrollment in the Southern Maryland region of the Archdiocese, with 34% of students identifying as Hispanic or Latino. Hofmeister is working to ensure that the school serves all families and students well.

Mrs. Melendez, who began the new part-time role in September, “has become an invaluable part of our staff.” She translates the weekly school newsletter into Spanish, helps parents complete school paperwork, and facilitates communication between faculty and parents. She plays a crucial role in assisting families to complete BOOST applications, which brings in additional funding to the school through tuition support. Most importantly, according to Hofmeister, Mrs. Melendez is helping to foster a culture of welcoming in the school.

A 3rd grade teacher at the school observed, “Saint Michael’s School serves many Hispanic families. It is a great comfort to them when they are greeted by a familiar, welcoming person who speaks their language. Mrs. Melendez has become an integral part of the strong bonds formed between the school and our parents. Her presence conveys to them how deeply we care for every child who is part of our school family.”

“Working with Saint Michael’s has reaffirmed our belief that meaningful change requires strong school leadership,” said Crimsonbridge Foundation Program Officer Caitlin Furey Mayo. “Hofmeister made it clear from the beginning of our partnership that investment in bilingual staff was a priority and the school community quickly felt the benefits of this new capacity.”

Read the next story from the “SHINE THE LIGHT” series.

To learn more about Bridges for Schools, please visit the Crimsonbridge Foundation’s website.

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