Among the biggest hurdles facing our nation’s Latino immigrant families are the language barriers that exist, creating gaps in understanding how U.S. schools work and how best to participate in the education of their children.

Thanks to the partnership of hundreds of faculty, staff, students, and community volunteers, UNCG is working to bridge that gap. Dr. Laura Gonzalez, Associate Professor in the Department of Teacher Education and Higher Education, began collaborating with other UNCG faculty members as early as 2009 to develop a better understanding of the experiences Latino students in high school and at home. She talked with over 100 students individually and conducted focus groups with nearly 20 parents.

This research helped shape a program that began in 2012, with a pilot for parents in the Asheboro City Schools and High Point Latino Family Center, which was funded by the College Access Challenge Grant Program and UNCG’s Coalition for Diverse Language Communities.

Five years later, thanks to a grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, her project, Padres Promoviendo Preparacíon, has served well over 100 families in Forsyth County, expanded to two high schools, two churches, and a community services center. Members of the greater community are learning to facilitate events, in order to continue the program after UNCG’s involvement ends.

The program provides Spanish-speaking parents of children, ages 14-18, who live in Forsyth County, with an opportunity to:

  • Learn about the United States education system;
  • Learn about how to enroll in a university and obtain financial help;
  • Receive resources and guides to help children navigate high school and college.

“Embedding the program in these community locations creates a bigger ripple effect and greater longevity. There are few programs out there focusing on Latino parents currently,” Gonzalez says. “We’ve had inquiries from people in other states, interested in replicating what we are doing.”

To learn more about this program, read the fall 2016 UNCG Research magazine article, “Breaking down Barriers” (page 13).

Visit the Padres Promoviendo Preparacíon website here.

 

(Article adapted from UNCG Research magazine article, fall 2016. Photo credits: Mike Dickens and Jenna Schad.)