Hispanic education is a national imperative. One out of four children in the United States is Hispanic, and these children are the fastest growing school-age population. The promise and potential of these children is great, but with two-thirds of the population living in or near poverty, the barriers to academic success, economic security, and prosperity are real. Latinos comprise nearly 20% of the nation’s population and will continue to constitute a significant segment of the country’s workforce. Working to help Hispanic families access a quality education is an imperative for our country and a priority of the Hispanic Education Imperative. The Imperative strives to improve systems and structures to create inclusive environments by focusing on: Support and Access, Financial Aid, and Community Learning.
SUPPORT AND ACCESS
Navigating the landscape of schools and educational opportunities can be a complex and difficult process for parents. This challenge is even greater for parents with limited English proficiency, when outreach and school information is available only in English. The Crimsonbridge Foundation partners with nonprofits, universities, and organizations that work to expand access to Catholic schools for Hispanic families by making the school search and application process more accessible to low-income or Spanish-speaking families. In 2016, the Foundation began to work with the Archdiocese of Washington to develop a plan to increase Hispanic enrollment. This collaboration has led to the creation of extensive new Spanish-language communications resources and to the hiring of the Catholic Schools Office’s first Hispanic Enrollment Coordinator.
For many families, the dream of offering their child a Catholic or private school education is limited by the cost of tuition, transportation, uniforms, and supplies. In an effort to make a quality education available to all students, the Crimsonbridge Foundation created the Hispanic Education Imperative Fund. Comprised of philanthropic dollars, the Fund increases the availability of scholarships for Hispanic students to attend private and parochial schools that are making systemic improvements towards increasing Hispanic enrollment and better serving Hispanic students and their families. Since 2015, the Fund has supported nearly 40 students attending Catholic schools in the Greater Washington region each year.
Since its inception in 2015, the Foundation has collaborated with universities, archdioceses, nonprofits, and philanthropic partners to identify opportunities, develop strategies and implement solutions to support schools, engage families, and help more Hispanic students attend and graduate from Catholic schools. To date, the Foundation has supported the National Summit on Hispanic Families and Catholic Education at Boston College, participated in the Hispanic Enrollment Committee of the Archdiocese of Washington, and partnered with the Archdiocese of Washington and the University of Notre Dame’s Latino Enrollment Institute to provide professional development training to staff and leadership of 50 schools, nonprofit partners, and more than 30 pastors from the Greater Washington region. In addition, the Foundation launched Bridges for Schools, a new capacity building program for schools to implement strategies learned at the Latino Enrollment Institute.
HISPANIC FAMILIES AND CATHOLIC EDUCATION
Hispanics are both the fastest-growing segment of the Catholic Church in the United States and the most underserved by Catholic schools. Sixty percent of Catholics under the age of 18 identify as Hispanic, but only 17 percent of students who attend Catholic schools are Hispanic. Hispanic students attending Catholic schools typically have strong educational outcomes and high graduation rates. Creating and strengthening opportunities for Hispanic families and Catholic schools to work together has tremendous potential to educate and prepare thousands of American children for successful futures.