News

How You Can be There for a Young Parent in College

Guest post by Devon Haynes of Generation Hope May 2020

Generation Hope Scholars are no strangers to overcoming obstacles and persisting against the odds. They are all young parents in college, and every day they are balancing a combination of going to school, parenting, and dealing with the range of systemic and logistical challenges that come with being a low-income parent of color. They are also working, primarily in the retail and service industries, and some are even caring for their own parents. 

Nationally, the outlook is bleak: fewer than 2% of women who have a baby by age 18 go on to earn their degree before age 30. COVID-19 has thrown up yet another roadblock for Generation Hope Scholars, but with wraparound support that includes financial aid, academic tutoring, caring mentors, mental health care, career readiness support, and case management, we can ensure the pandemic doesn’t derail their dreams. 

If you’re looking for ways to build community and make a lasting impact, consider joining Generation Hope as a Mentor for a Scholar. 

Generation Hope is currently seeking caring adult mentors who will support a young parent as they work toward their dream of graduating college. Our mentors are people from all walks of life who are passionate about supporting teen parents in college and believe that education can be transformative for two generations–our Scholars and their children. 

Each Mentor builds a strong bond with their Scholar, meeting up once a month to do a fun activity or to just catch up. Generation Hope’s program fosters meaningful, long-term connections since Mentors support their Scholars through their entire college journey. Mentors are a consistent person Scholars can turn to for encouragement or a listening ear.  

“My mentor Lisa and I have grown very close in the past 5 years. As Lisa says, I am the tightrope walker, and she is my safety net. She has been one of my biggest supporters throughout school, always celebrating times in which I have gotten a 4.0 in the semester, made the Dean’s List, or when I have received scholarships. She has also been there for me during the difficult times. Lisa is always there to listen to me. Lisa always believed I was going to get through it no matter what and reminded me of how close I was getting to my goal. I am grateful that Lisa never let me stop.” – Ana (George Mason University) Pictured Left: Mentor Lisa with Scholar Ana and her children

Mentors also play a role with financial support. Mentors commit to providing $1,200/year ($100/month) toward their Scholar’s tuition if the Scholar is attending a 2-year college or $2,400/year ($200/month) if the Scholar is attending a 4-year college. This contribution — made monthly or once a year — bridges the gap between a Scholar’s financial aid (including government Pell Grants) and the real cost of attending college, to help them graduate with as little debt as possible. Mentors make this tax-deductible donation themselves or raise it through fundraising. 

Generation Hope Mentors are the “special sauce” that help our Scholars beat the odds–graduating at a rate that is nearly 8 times the graduation rate of single mothers nationwide, and exceeding the average rate for all college students. And we provide robust support to our Mentors. Each Mentor is backed up day-to-day by our staff of case workers, or “Hope Coaches,” and we also have a Mental Health Coordinator on staff. We are truly a team, so mentors don’t feel like they are on their own.

Will you join us as a Mentor for our incoming Scholar class? In the face of the incredible challenges from COVID-19, we’ve already seen so many inspiring examples of what is possible when communities come together to help one another through these tough times. To learn more, or to apply, visit our website or contact our Director of Programming, Caroline Griswold Short (caroline@supportgenerationhope.org). 

Generation Hope is one of six nonprofit organizations focused on student success that is part of the 3-year College Completion Colleagues (C3) Initiative in partnership with the Crimsonbridge Foundation and the Scheidel Foundation.

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Message to Our Community Partners – May 2020

Danielle M. Reyes & Gabriela Smith May 2020

Two months ago, we initiated a remote work plan for our team. While adapting personally and professionally to the current climate, the Crimsonbridge team kept grants, programs, and communications work moving forward and we are grateful for their commitment. As we look ahead, Crimsonbridge is prepared to remain a teleworking organization for the foreseeable future, but this has not and will not change our availability, our interest in participating in #community events, or the long-term goals of our grantmaking work in Education, Leadership Development, and Communications Capacity Building.

Crimsonbridge team members have worked closely, even while virtual, with our grantee community partners on promoting Census 2020, identifying new leaders for the Crimsonbridge Leadership Fund, and preparing for the fourth year of the Hispanic Education Imperative Fund. We are committed to moving our shared work forward and programs such as the College Completion Colleagues (C3) Initiative, Hispanic Education Imperative, Bridges for Schools, Bridges for Census 2020, and Crimsonbridge Leadership Fund remain engaged and focused on supporting the success of students, parents, organizations, and nonprofit leaders. In addition, we have been vocal advocates on program-aligned issues that have received increased attention during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the urgent need for bilingual/Spanish language communications and the need for tools and resources to support the retention and graduation of first generation college students.

Over the past eight weeks, the Foundation has joined philanthropic partners in supporting the development of funds to meet urgent needs in the Greater Washington region, while keeping it’s focus on sustainability for the long term. Recent and ongoing efforts include:

  • Emergency Relief. We contributed early to the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund at Greater Washington Community Foundation and are directing requests for emergency funding to this Fund.
  • Flexibility. Our existing policy of flexibility with proposal and final report due dates as urgent needs arise continues as always.
  • Sharing Messages. The Foundation is using its communications capacity and reach to help share your work, needs, and messaging with the hope of increasing visibility and connecting partners to resources. Email your program officer to share content.
  • Added Accessibility. We are here for you. Our team members can always be reached by email and can also be reached by phone or video via Zoom.
  • Staying Connected. Our whole team is on Twitter as is the Foundation at @CrimsonbridgeDC. Please know we value all of your communications and are reviewing our grantee partner information daily, from email to online news to stay informed.
  • Staying Engaged. Our staff continue to participate in community partner activities and are eager to attend online events and even volunteer where possible. Visit our #community page to learn more or reach out to your program officer with an opportunity.

In closing, we want to express our deep gratitude. Over the past two months, we have watched school and nonprofit partners continue to demonstrate a passion for their work, ability to adapt, and commitment to our region’s children, students, families, and communities. We stand with you and we give thanks for all of the teachers, administrators, nonprofit employees, and essential workers in our community who are helping, supporting, and caring for friends and neighbors in need.

Sincerely,

Danielle M. Reyes, Executive Director and Gabriela Smith, Founder & President

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DC Scores Cites Bilingual Capacity to Virtual Transition Success

Guest post by Caitlin Furey with Anthony Francavilla of DC Scores April 2020

At the beginning of March, DC SCORES was busy gearing up for their spring season. For twelve weeks each spring, over 3,000 students at 65 schools play soccer, write poetry, and serve their community with DC SCORES. When schools closed in response to the spread of COVID-19, DC SCORES had to act quickly. Rather than cancelling their season, DC SCORES committed to staying connected to as many of their poet-athletes as possible while they are at home. Within three weeks, DC SCORES had built an online learning portal called SCORES at Home. Updated daily with new writing and soccer lessons, along with supplemental resources that might be helpful to the students and their families, the online learning portal is bilingual, offering all resources in both English and Spanish. DC SCORES knows that this will allow them to reach more families – over 40% of DC SCORES participants are Latino.

How did DC SCORES have the capacity to develop SCORES at Home as a fully bilingual online learning portal? The organization has been strategically building their capacity to effectively communicate with bilingual and Spanish-speaking families for at least three years. In 2017, DC SCORES launched the Familias Unidas Initiative after conducting focus groups with Spanish-speaking parents of DC SCORES participants. These focus groups, which were led by DC SCORES’ Latino Engagement Coordinator, informed a strategy to increase the organization’s cultural competency and sensitivity and launch a Spanish-language communications plan. In 2018, the Crimsonbridge Foundation made a grant to DC SCORES through our Bridges Program to support Spanish-language communications capacity building efforts, including the creation of a Spanish-language microsite, a ¡Conoce más sobre DC SCORES! video, and other communications collateral.

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the importance of investing in communications, especially communications to reach members of the community who do not speak English. Tony Francavilla, DC SCORES Chief Development Officer, reflects, “ DC SCORES is so much better equipped to communicate with our Spanish-speaking families through SCORES at Home, our Parent Resource Center, and through direct communication than we were a couple years ago. Our bilingual Communications and Engagement Manager has been essential in basically every part of our work since we went virtual.”

DC Scores will host Our Words Our City – Live! – a virtual event – on Thursday, April 30, 2020 at 7pm. To participate register here.

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Liberty’s Promise and Census 2020

April 2020

A Community Partner Guest Post
Liberty’s Promise supports immigrant youth in the Greater Washington region by providing them with means to become actively involved in civic life, pursue higher education, and embark upon meaningful careers. In the fall of 2019, we introduced the topic of the census to our youth through our two after school programs at Gaithersburg High School, Civics and Citizenship, and Civic Engagement for Beginning English Language Learners (CE‐BELL). We started by discussing what the census is and how important it is for the community and the country. We explained how the Census is safe and anonymous, and does not put the population, including the most vulnerable individuals such as undocumented residents, at risk of being exposed to law enforcement authorities.

Our youth learned about how they can play a crucial role in Gaithersburg’s outreach efforts in hard-to-count census tracts. We invited a graphic designer employed by the City of Gaithersburg to give our youth insight on how to design a flyer. With the help of the graphic designer, youth worked together in small groups and used their talents to design and create posters to display at Gaithersburg High School. Our youth also participated in a photo and video shoot as part of the Gaithersburg Census 2020 campaign. Youth and staff alike enjoyed being part of the event, and are now featured on the City’s website. If you drive around Gaithersburg, you may see them on promotional posters at various bus stops!

Since schools closed in early March in response to COVID-19, Liberty’s Promise has been working to adjust our programs. We are now relying on social platforms, video-conferencing, and phone calls to continue our work with our youth. Census outreach will no longer be conducted in-person, so our youth are working on crafting a video message and a graphic to share on social media. Despite challenges presented by COVID-19, our youth are still working to help achieve a Complete Count for Census 2020 in our community of Gaithersburg!  

By Julien Labiche, Director of Montgomery County and Prince George’s County Programs, Liberty’s Promise.
Liberty’s Promise was featured in the Special Census 2020 edition of in Gaithersburg. Click to read: “OUTREACH & ADVOCACY: Census and Youth Mentoring Programs

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A Message to Our Community Partners

Danielle M. Reyes & Gabriela Smith

We are writing to you with hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy. During this time, the foundation and its team members remain committed to our community partnerships, as we all experience the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) personally and professionally.

In light of unforeseen challenges of the current climate, we are adapting some practices, while doubling down on others. Over the past week, we’ve connected directly with partners to address any specific concerns. In addition, we seek to provide flexibility and support to all of our community partners in the following ways:

  1. Extensions for reports and proposals. The Foundation reminds you of its existing policy of flexibility with proposal and final report due dates as urgent needs arise. Contact us.
  2. Sharing your messages. The Crimsonbridge Foundation and its team want to help share your work and needs and will use our communications resources to extend your reach. Have an urgent message? Email your program officer.
  3. Added accessibility. We are here for you. Though working remotely, our team members can always be reached by email and can now be reached by Zoom and Google Hangouts.
  4. Staying connected. Our whole team is on Twitter as is the Foundation at @CrimsonbridgeDC. Please know we value all of your communications and are reviewing our grantee partner information daily, from email to online news.

We also want to say, “Thank you!” to our nonprofit and school community partners for all that you continue to do during this unprecedented time. Though information on COVID-19 continues to develop daily, we’ve watched schools and nonprofits demonstrate their ability to be responsive, nimble, and committed to the children and families of our region. We stand with you in this commitment.

Sincerely,

Danielle M. Reyes, Executive Director and Gabriela Smith, Founder & President

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Goal to Reach 21,000 Adult Learners by 2021

Caitlin Furey January 2020

The Montgomery Coalition for Adult English Literacy (MCAEL), a coalition of over 60 English language instruction programs, is working to build a thriving community and effective workforce in Montgomery County, MD.  According to census data, there are over 126,000 adults in the county who are limited in their English proficiency.  In response to a growing need for English language instruction, MCAEL set a goal to grow its annual reach from 15,000 to 21,000 adult learners by 2021.  Potential strategies for expansion include partnering with public schools, utilizing literacy apps to serve learners who cannot attend in-person classes, and providing tools to community-based organizations that are positioned to start their own ESOL programs.  The Crimsonbridge Foundation is supporting these targeted efforts to develop new ESOL learning opportunities for hard-to-reach populations in Montgomery County.  In this video, hear from two adult learners about their experiences learning English at the Family Discovery Center, a provider in the MCAEL network. 

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Investing in A Complete Count for the 2020 Census

Brendon Smith January 2020

The Crimsonbridge Foundation has awarded $60,000 in grants to five nonprofit organizations in the Greater Washington region that are working to increase participation in the 2020 Census. The organizations, which include Ayuda, Identity Inc., Latin American Youth Center, Liberty’s Promise, and Mary’s Center, are committed to supporting a complete count effort that includes the clients, families, and communities they work with every day.

Why is it important for philanthropy to invest in getting a complete census count? The census informs how government, businesses, researchers, and communities make significant decisions, including allocating political representation, opening or closing businesses, and providing social services. It is estimated that more than 55,000 individuals in the Greater Washington region were undercounted in the 2010 Census and that the full need of our community was not captured.

According to a 2016 report from the Census Bureau, low-income communities, English language learners, and immigrants are among populations that are historically undercounted in the census. The census is supposed to count every living person in the U.S., regardless of citizenship status. Although the Supreme Court ruled against including a citizenship question in the 2020 Census, an atmosphere of misinformation, fear, and uncertainty persists, heightening the risk of an undercount.

In 2019, the Crimsonbridge Foundation expanded its Bridges Program, which supports nonprofits in developing communications tools and strategies to effectively reach and engage with bilingual and Spanish-speaking families, to include work specific to the 2020 Census. Organizations were selected for Bridges Census 2020 grants based not only on their outreach strategy, but on their knowledge, established relationships, and expertise in working with multi-lingual immigrant communities.

The following is a snapshot of the 2020 Census Complete Count plans for each of the five grant recipients. To learn more we encourage you to visit the websites of these community partners.

Ayuda, a nonprofit legal services provider, has developed a multi-pronged strategy that involves outreach through social media and community events, as well as training staff attorneys, social workers, and volunteers on how to talk to their clients about the census. All outreach will be conducted in multiple languages, including Spanish, French, Amharic, Tagalog, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Portuguese.

Identity, Inc., which works with youth and their families who live in high-poverty areas of Montgomery County, will execute their ¡Tú Sí Cuentas! You Do Count! project throughout Montgomery County to ensure that low-income Latinos, recent immigrants, and TransLatinx residents are counted in the 2020 Census. The project will start with a needs assessment to determine the primary obstacles that are likely to prevent individuals from completing the census in 2020. Identity will then create an awareness and outreach strategy to be implemented in five of the top ten non-respondent communities of Montgomery County.

Latin American Youth Center, which has served immigrant youth and families in the region for more than 50 years, will leverage a current program, the Teen Center Media Program, and create a cohort of 30 youth who will learn about the census and design a plan to increase local participation and awareness. After researching the effects of the census on their community, youth will work in the LAYC’s Media Arts Lab to develop bilingual outreach materials on census facts and myths and execute an outreach campaign in the Columbia Heights neighborhood.

Liberty’s Promise is partnering with the City of Gaithersburg to target census outreach and education to a specific hard-to-count census tract in Gaithersburg, where nearly half of residents are foreign-born, and 20 percent report that no one in the household speaks English “very well.” Liberty’s Promise will add a census component to their existing civic engagement program at Gaithersburg High School, which is offered in English and Spanish. Youth participants will attend regional complete count meetings and develop and execute an outreach plan designed to increase response rates in the hard-to-count community in which they live.

Mary’s Center, a provider of high-quality healthcare, education, and social services, will identify and train Census Champions from among their staff to lead efforts throughout the organization to educate and motivate staff and community members around the 2020 Census. By incorporating census education into the existing workflow, Mary’s Center will reach more than 500 community members each day. Mary’s Center received a grant from the DC Mayor’s Office to support census outreach in DC, and Crimsonbridge support will expand outreach to their two Maryland sites.

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Schools Invest in Spanish Language Resources to Welcome, Support, and Engage Families

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.

Learn more about Bridges for Schools and our Hispanic Education Imperative!

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Robyn Attebury Ellis Joins Crimsonbridge to Lead College Success Work

Washington, DC – The Crimsonbridge Foundation welcomes Robyn Attebury Ellis as its new program officer for College Success and Leadership.  Since its inception in 2015, Crimsonbridge has invested in nonprofit leadership programs and in first-generation college success programs at universities, nonprofits, and research institutions. Ellis, who most recently served as the Director of College Readiness and Community Outreach at the University of the District of Columbia Community College (UDC-CC), will lead the expansion of programming and grantmaking in these two areas.

In her most recent role at UDC-CC, Ellis provided leadership and direction for college readiness programming and managed the largest and most inclusive dual enrollment program in the District of Columbia, establishing partnerships with 45 DC public and charter high schools and adult education programs.

Prior to joining UDC-CC, she worked as the Early College Coordinator at Bell Multicultural High School, a District of Columbia Public School, where she managed the early college and early high school programs and taught a college seminar. Before moving to DC, Ellis was the College Persistence and Volunteer Coordinator at Breakthrough Austin where she also mentored teachers in an intensive summer program for middle school students, the first in their family to go to college.

“Robyn not only comes with exceptional experience, but a true passion for helping students succeed in college and beyond.” says Danielle M. Reyes, executive director of the Crimsonbridge Foundation.

A native of Texas, Ellis received her bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Texas at Austin and holds a master’s degree in Comparative Education from the Institute of Education at the University of London in England. She lives in DC with her partner and their two children.

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