Video Series Enhances Latino Student Fund’s Bilingual Communications Strategy

Maria Fernanda Borja, President and CEO of the Latino Student Fund May 2018

At the Latino Student Fund (LSF), our goal is to offer programs where students are supported from their first days in the classroom to the day they graduate from high school. The LSF offers seven programs in three program areas: academic support, post-secondary success, and family resources. We designed these three initiatives to encourage a college-going culture from a young age and offer families the chance to learn alongside their children while building a strong community.

Through our dual-generation programs and strong partnerships, the LSF works hard to create opportunities for all students to put themselves on a path to higher education. Over the past three years, we have opened two new program sites and started two new programs. As we continued to expand our services and start new outreach initiatives, we realized that certain marketing techniques, like flyers or brochures, would not succeed in a community where nearly 20% of adults are illiterate and even more speak a language other than English.

Through a partnership with the Crimsonbridge Foundation, the LSF created a series of bilingual videos in English and Spanish to showcase its work to the community. In the videos, students, volunteers, and families shared their stories, including their experiences with the LSF. Students spoke passionately about their LSF tutors, who encouraged students to enjoy learning and reach their fullest potential. Mentors proudly shared stories of progress made by their mentees, and the growth they saw in themselves as mentors, role models and friends. Perhaps the strongest messages came from the mothers and fathers of students, who voiced their opinions in Spanish. For these parents, speaking Spanish is part of their identity, and they want to show their children that language choice should never stop you from advocating for what is important to you.

These videos highlight the impact of the LSF and will be used to engage new students, families, volunteers, and donors. Regardless of reading level or mother tongue, members of the community can watch these videos and learn about the LSF, and how to get involved. As we near our 25th Anniversary in 2019, the Latino Student Fund hopes to broaden its impact by helping even more students reach their potential.


read more read less
Serving Our Children logo

Making Educational Dreams a Reality for Families

Kevin Mills, Serving Our Children and Caitlin Furey, The Crimsonbridge Foundation May 2018

All families want their children to be in an academic setting where they will thrive and succeed. Founded on the belief that all students are capable of significant academic achievement, and that all children, regardless of income and socioeconomic status, should have access to a quality education, Serving Our Children works with low-income families to make the option of private school a reality for thousands of D.C. students.

As the nonprofit responsible for administering the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), Serving Our Children is experienced in connecting low-income D.C. families to scholarships that enable them to send their children to private independent and parochial schools in D.C. During the 2017-18 school year alone, it administered OSP scholarships to 1,653 students in K-12.

Though demand for tuition assistance is high, the needs-based eligibility for OSP is limiting. In 2015, the Crimsonbridge Foundation reached out to Serving Our Children with the hope of responding to a specific demand from Hispanic families seeking assistance to access a Catholic education in this region.

Working with Serving Our Children, the Crimsonbridge Foundation seeded the Hispanic Education Imperative Fund in 2016 to provide scholarships with the goal of increasing access to quality Catholic schools for low-income, Latino youth in the Greater Washington Region. In addition to receiving scholarships, families are able to access application materials in Spanish and receive support from Serving Our Children’s bilingual staff, who work with parents in person, by phone, and at community events, to help navigate the education system and find an appropriate school.

As the parent of one Hispanic Education Imperative Fund scholarship recipient shared, “I arrived in the United States of America when I was four years old. I remember learning English in preschool. I remember growing up knowing I was different from my friends, but also being very proud of who I am and where I came from. When I was getting ready for high school, I wanted to attend a local Catholic high school. I applied and was accepted. Unfortunately, the financial demands made it impossible for me to attend. My son is now attending a Catholic high school. The Hispanic Education Imperative Fund helped make our dreams a reality. It made it possible for us to afford a Catholic education for our family.”

To date, nearly 50 students have received scholarships to attend Catholic schools in D.C. and Maryland with support from the Hispanic Education Imperative Fund and Serving Our Children.

read more read less

LATIDO Policy Brief

May 2018

In December 2017 the Crimsonbridge Foundation partnered with MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, education and social policy research organization, to launch the Latino Academic Transfer and Institutional Degree Opportunities (LATIDO) Project. The goal of the LATIDO Project is to examine approaches to increasing the transfer and college completion rate of Latino students attending Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). Supported by the Crimsonbridge Foundation, The College Futures Foundation, and The James Irvine Foundation, among others, nearly 30 experts in postsecondary education of Latino students, including Selma Caal from the Crimsonbridge Foundation, attended an expert roundtable in December 2017. Released in April 2018, the LATIDO Policy Brief highlights key findings from the roundtable about promising institutional policies and approaches currently being implemented at Hispanic Serving Institutions to support Latino students. The hope is to provide insights to those seeking to improve the postsecondary educational outcomes of Latinos.

read more read less

The Multiplier Effect! How Small Investments in Communications Can Make Exponential Impact in Organizations and Communities

April 2018

The Crimsonbridge Foundation’s Danielle M. Reyes and Selma Caal will be presenting “The Multiplier Effect! How Small Investments in Communications Can Make Exponential Impact in Organizations and Communities” a new breakout session at this year’s Communications Network annual conference in San Francisco. The session’s key take aways? 1. You don’t need large communication investments to make a real difference. 2. Strategic investments in outreach and engagement of diverse communities leverages program work and impact. 3. Funding for communications can motivate organizations to assess and improve their capacity to serve diverse communities.

Learn more about the session here and follow them at @CrimsonbridgeDC, @danielle_reyes, and @SelmaCaal #ComNet18

read more read less

First University of Notre Dame Latino Enrollment Institute held in the National Capital Region

Earlier this month we were honored to partner with the Archdiocese of Washington to bring the Latino Enrollment Institute (LEI) here, to Washington DC, and provide a unique opportunity to local Catholic schools to participate and benefit from this breakthrough program.

The LEI is a program founded and led by the University of Notre Dame in response to national data indicating that Latinos are both the fastest-growing segment of the Catholic Church in the United States, and the most underserved by Catholic schools. Featuring presentations by elementary school leaders with demonstrated success in engaging the Latino community, the LEI provides school principals and pastors with clear and concrete strategies to transform their schools to attract and serve Latino students more effectively.

Principals, pastors, and staff from 50 local Catholic schools participated in the professional development training. Following the conference, 10 school leaders will have the opportunity to discuss challenges and best practices through participation in the Latino Enrollment Institute’s Principal Mentorship Program.

read more read less

The CTTL and TFA, DC Region: The Power of a Replicable Public and Private School Partnership

March 2018

In 2010, Gabriela Smith, Founder and President of the Crimsonbridge Foundation, and Glenn Whitman, Director of the CTTL at St. Andrew’s, cultivated this innovative public-private partnership with Teach for America, DC Region. Read more about this successful partnership that developed a fellowship for rising second-year TFA Corps members and TFA alumni in the DC region to receive training and feedback from veteran St. Andrew’s teachers in this blog post by the CTTL’s Julia Dean.

read more read less

Lost in Translation? Tips for Effective Translation Work

February 2018

Building organizational capacity is critical to every nonprofit organization. The Crimsonbridge Foundation’s Bridges Program works with nonprofits to build their capacity to execute communication strategies that effectively reach and engage Spanish speakers in our community. An important part of this capacity-building work is to support nonprofit organizations in translating accurate and professional Spanish language web content; designing Spanish language microsites; and creating bilingual videos. Based on our work and lessons learned with nonprofits, we share some tips that can facilitate translation efforts to reach Latino Spanish-speaking families.

read more read less

La Cocina VA: Using Food as an Agent for Social and Economic Change

Caitlin Furey January 2018

La Cocina VA, located in Arlington, Virginia, offers immigrant adults the necessary tools and resources to overcome poverty and create a better, healthier future for themselves, their families, and future generations. Using a bilingual culinary training program, La Cocina VA trains, certifies and places low-income immigrants in meaningful jobs in the food service industry, while improving their English language skills. The nonprofit also incorporates food assistance for the hungry, greater accessibility to healthy affordable foods, and nutrition awareness to reduce obesity and improve health. To date, 84 individuals have graduated from the culinary training program, and in 2017, it achieved a 100% job placement rate.

In November, the Crimsonbridge Foundation and the Crimsonbridge Group awarded La Cocina VA a grant for $10,000 to launch an online tool which will provide customized vocabulary software for English language learners, integrating content from La Cocina’s curriculum in culinary arts, food safety, job readiness, financial intelligence, and nutrition. The tool will supplement and strengthen the existing English language curriculum, which was redeveloped in 2016 with the support of the Crimsonbridge Foundation. The 13-week in-class curriculum is extensive, but La Cocina found, through surveys and feedback obtained from graduates of the program and employer partners, that English proficiency continued to be an obstacle for career development. The new online tool will offer students at least 10 additional hours a week to tailored English content and will allow instructors to more efficiently manage the different English levels of their students, providing them with content according to their needs.

“La Cocina VA combats unemployment, poverty and a lack of entrepreneurship opportunities through programs that develop technical skills and English proficiency. We put students in contact with businesses that need qualified employees, building community through the strength and power of undiscovered workers, entrepreneurs, and leaders” says, Patricia Funegra, the Founder and CEO of La Cocina VA. “Thanks to Crimsonbridge we will be able to broaden our impact by providing students and graduates with remote access to additional learning hours using a new online tool that will help increase their English proficiency.”

Funegra has exciting plans for the future of the nonprofit: in 2019, expansion to a new facility will allow La Cocina to significantly increase the number of people served through its programs. The new space will feature Northern Virginia’s first Kitchen Incubator, which will empower minority entrepreneurs to launch and grow food-related businesses by providing shared commercial kitchen space, access to capital, English and business development classes.

read more read less

Ten Ways to Reach and Engage Hispanic Communities

October 2017

The Hispanic population has grown from 4.4 percent of the total population in 1970 to 17.6 percent in 2016. As the Latino population has grown, so has the number of Hispanic-serving nonprofit organizations. Many organizations have been successful in working with Latino communities, while others are learning how best to connect and engage with new communities. Fortunately, there are numerous strategies with proven results. Below we offer 10 tips for how organizations can improve and strengthen their communication strategies to effectively reach and engage with Hispanic communities.

read more read less

Selma Caal Joins Crimsonbridge as Director of Research and Program Development

September 2017

The Crimsonbridge Foundation is pleased to welcome Selma Caal as its Director of Research and Program Development. In this role, Selma will provide evidence-informed and evidence-based information for program improvement and program development across the Foundation’s initiatives.

Selma holds a doctoral degree in developmental psychology from George Mason University and has over 15 years of experience studying child/youth and family well-being. She has extensive experience with qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, including measure development, data quality assurance, data management, and analysis. Her research has focused on factors associated with socioemotional and educational outcomes of diverse children/youth, and community engagement of Latino and immigrant parents.

Previously, as a Research Scientist at Child Trends, Selma conducted program evaluations examining impact and implementation data. Selma served as the lead researcher for an implementation evaluation across a number of school readiness programs serving low-income parents and preschoolers of diverse backgrounds. She also led and collaborated in a number of measure development projects for program performance management, program evaluation, and research studies, including the development of a tool to measure students’ social and emotional skills. Selma has also conducted a number of literature reviews, including a review of school models that offer wrap-around services to support students’ educational opportunities.

Selma is an expert in translating study findings into recommendations for stakeholders, program implementation and development. She has presented at congressional briefings and has briefed senior federal officials regarding issues affecting children’s educational outcomes. In addition to her research and evaluation experience, Selma has over 20 years of experience in applied settings in schools and as a family counselor across the United States. Currently, Selma serves on the board of directors of Wonders, a nonprofit early learning and extended day care provider located in Bethesda,MD.

“I believe that education, whether it is formal education or professional development, is the key to improving the wellbeing of our nation’s communities.” Says Caal, “The Crimsonbridge foundation is committed to investing in programs that provide these educational opportunities for youth, families, and community leaders and I am so honored to be part of it.”

read more read less