This new case study, told from the funder’s perspective, reflects on the history of the cross-sector partnership of Crimsonbridge, the Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning, and Teach for America D.C. Region. It documents a philanthropist’s path in establishing and maintaining a successful long-term collaboration, offers examples of the unique roles funders can play, and shares insights on actions that donors and foundations can take to ensure partnership success.
This is the second post in a series sharing how local Catholic schools used a small communications capacity building grant from the Crimsonbridge Foundation to serve, reach, engage, and enroll Hispanic students and families.
Holy Redeemer School, a Pre-K to 8th grade school in Prince George’s County, MD, is committed to excellence in education and connecting with families in its community through its Catholic mission. Eighth grade teacher, Jennifer Eller, shared, “Reaching out to our local Catholic families and providing a Catholic education to those that desire it fulfills our school mission and our mission as Catholics.” It was this faithfulness to Holy Redeemer’s Catholic mission that inspired the school’s administration to use the Bridges for Schools grant to translate admissions and enrollment information for the school website, translate the parent-student handbook, and assembled a team of “Madrinas.”
Designed by the Alliance for Catholic Education and the University of Notre Dame, the Madrinas Model employs a grassroots marketing approach in which Madrinas serve as mentors for parents who are interested in enrolling their children in a Catholic school. Holy Redeemer recruited current parents at the school to serve as Madrinas. The Madrinas attended school open houses to translate and speak to potential families and worked with the school faculty to create a welcoming community.
Holy Redeemer also worked with a professional translation company to translate school promotional materials and website content. To help share these new Spanish-language materials, the school administration connected with pastors at nearby parishes that offer Spanish-language masses and received their help in distributing materials.
Jennifer reflected on the impact of the grant saying, “This grant opened my eyes as a teacher to how I am and can be communicating with my current Spanish-speaking families. It also allowed us to welcome more people into our community who might otherwise have stayed away.”
A new report by MDRC offers lessons on culturally responsive approaches that colleges and universities can implement to support Latino student college success. Through interviews with students, faculty, staff, and administrators at five California colleges, MDRC researchers collected feedback and information on campus programs, services, and interventions that served Latino student needs. The report, funded in part by Crimsonbridge Foundation, is part of MDRC’s Latino Academic Transfer and Institutional Degree Opportunities (LATIDO) Project, which examines approaches to increasing the transfer and college completion rate of Latino students attending Hispanic-Serving Institutions.
The Crimsonbridge Foundation has awarded $110,000 in grants to six organizations in the Greater Washington Region that help first-generation students and others of underrepresented backgrounds navigate and complete their journeys in higher education.
Since 2015, Crimsonbridge has invested $260,000 in programs and research to advance college completion for students who are the first in their family to attend college or of diverse or under-resourced backgrounds. Driven by a shared goal of increasing college success rates, Crimsonbridge partnered with the Scheidel Foundation in 2017 to launch the College Completion Colleagues (C3) Initiative. In addition to the foundations, C3 partners include six exemplary nonprofits that shepherd students to and through college graduation: Capital Partners for Education, Collegiate Directions, College Success Foundation – District of Columbia, CollegeTracks, Generation Hope, and New Futures.
In this second year of partnership, Crimsonbridge grants are tailored to meet the unique needs of each C3 nonprofit. Grants will support the expansion of college completion programming, as well as the creation and build-out of career readiness services for students in college.
“Investing in college success is a priority for the foundation and for our country,” said Crimsonbridge Foundation President and Founder Gabriela Smith. “We are excited to continue learning and collaborating with our partners in the C3 Initiative to advance college success regionally.”
C3 participants gather three times per year to reflect on challenges, share best practices, and embrace opportunities for collaboration. Through program feedback, participants have shared that it is “beneficial to connect with other organizations with similar missions” and state that sessions have “opened up my eyes to the challenges everyone is having, so I don’t feel alone.” The next meeting, launching year two of the C3 cohort, will be held in July 2019.
Can someone with nearly 25 years of experience in education, a doctorate and three years of experience as a nonprofit executive director find something to learn in the Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate Program at Georgetown University’s Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership? The answer was a resounding, “Yes,” for Michelle Edwards of Live It Learn It.
“Learning every aspect of nonprofit management was amazing,” said Michelle, a certificate program graduate and executive director of Live It Learn It, a rigorous experiential learning program that turns the region’s parks, museums, and monuments into rich learning experiences and helps local children of color feel like they belong in these spaces.
Michelle became Live It Learn It’s executive director in 2016, taking over from Founder Matthew Wheelock. Enrolling in the certificate program in the summer of 2018, with support from the Crimsonbridge Leadership Fund, gave her a window into the theory behind the hands-on practice she was already getting in nonprofit management. It also gave her more confidence as she translated her leadership skills from nearly 25 years in education, including 10 as a school principal, to the nonprofit realm.
While Michelle was interested in every part of the certificate program’s curriculum, learnings around board development and engagement, and fundraising have been immediately applicable over the past year.
“I really truly understand our roles now and how the board and executive director are the twin engines in this jet,” said Michelle.
Since completing the program, Michelle has guided Live It Learn It to update its board roles and responsibilities and organizational by-laws, and the organization is now ready to bring on new board members. With new clarity around fundraising, Michelle has also built a development team and felt better able to articulate what was expected of them.
The week-long, immersive program also allowed for deep conversations with a diverse mix of leaders working in various kinds of nonprofits. These leaders are now part of a network that Michelle feels proud to contribute to, as well as one she is comfortable reaching out to for support.
In addition to time with her classmates, Michelle appreciated meeting with Crimsonbridge staff during the program and encourages more funders to get to know participants and to support participation by diverse leaders.
“Hear what people are learning. Have lunch with attendees. Continue to build relationships and be sure that diverse voices are in the room. Those we serve need to see us in these leadership roles,” said Michelle.
Learn more about Live It Learn It, Georgetown’s Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate Program or the Crimsonbridge Leadership Fund.
In this new video, meet CollegeTracks, which serves more than 1,600 Montgomery County students and is a community partner in our College Completion Colleagues (C3) Initiative. The video features College Access Director Lindsey Barclay (an incoming Crimsonbridge Leadership Fund recipient in the Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate Program at Georgetown University’s Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership) who speaks to the value of coaching in college success.
Georgetown University’s Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership and the Crimsonbridge Foundation have partnered since 2016 to conduct targeted outreach to attract local nonprofit leaders of diverse backgrounds and provide scholarships to support their participation in the Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate Program. To date, the partnership has supported more than 30 diverse leaders, strengthened the capacity of nonprofits serving our local community, and significantly increased the diversity of the Certificate Program.
In this new piece, learn how program alumni are joining the effort and leveraging their networks and experience to support local leaders and nonprofits. Click below to read “Growing Networks and Diversity: CPNL and Crimsonbridge Foundation Partnership,” written by Georgetown University’s Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership.
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.”
To learn more about Bridges for Schools, please visit the Crimsonbridge Foundation’s website.
During its 25th Anniversary Gala on March 14 the Latino Student Fund (LSF) recognized Crimsonbridge Foundation with the Community Builder Award.
“Over the years, the Crimsonbridge Foundation’s commitment to our mission has enabled the Latino Student Fund to expand its programs, offer professional development to our staff, and showcase our work to the community in new ways,” said Mario Acosta-Velez of Verizon, who presented the award on behalf of the Latino Student Fund.
LSF and Crimsonbridge have partnered since 2016 to expand and build the capacity for LSF’s academic support, college prep services, and independent/parochial school guidance for Hispanic students in grades K through 12 and their families.
Crimsonbridge has also supported translation of key LSF communications materials into Spanish, including the website, and creation of bilingual videos highlighting organizational success stories, and provided a challenge grant to increase individual fundraising.
“What we love about working with the Latino Student Fund is their openness to ideas, to connecting with others, and to growing as an organization in strategic and meaningful ways,” said Crimsonbridge Foundation Executive Director Danielle M. Reyes. “Being honored and recognized during such a special anniversary is truly meaningful for me, for our President and Founder Gabriela Smith, and for our Program Officer Caitlin Furey who works very closely with the program team.”
As a preview to its second Naturally Latinos Conference on March 27, the Audubon Naturalist Society profiled Crimsonbridge Executive Director Danielle M. Reyes in the Spring 2019 issue of “Naturalist Quarterly.”
The profile highlight’s Danielle’s passion for the outdoors, work to connect the community to nature, and desire to encourage people of color to take leadership roles. Danielle, who served on the conference planning committee, is on the Crestwood Citizens’ Association Green Team and the board of Rock Creek Conservancy.