News

Innovative Outreach for the 2020 Census

Caitlin Furey Mayo August 2020

For more than 50 years, Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) has offered multi-cultural, comprehensive, and innovative programs that address youths’ social, academic, and career needs.  As an organization with deep knowledge, established relationships, and expertise working with multi-lingual immigrant communities, LAYC is uniquely positioned to increase participation of typically underrepresented groups in the 2020 Census in the Greater Washington region. 

In early 2019, LAYC crafted a plan for census outreach that would leverage one of their most innovative programs – the Teen Center Media Program.  After researching the impact completing the census would have in their community, DC youth worked in LAYC’s Media Arts Lab to develop bilingual outreach material on census facts and myths and executed an outreach campaign in DC’s Columbia Heights neighborhood.  When the COVID-19 crisis erupted in the spring, community organizations all over the country were forced to adjust their census outreach plans, many of which rely significantly on in-person networking and education.

In mid-March, the media program transitioned to a virtual platform and LAYC staff focused their efforts on the immediate, food, rent, technology, and mental health needs of the community.  Youth in the media program continued to meet virtually after school hours to learn graphic design skills. Many youth completed the work directly through their phones as they did not have computers.

As Lupi Quinteros-Grady, LAYC President & CEO, reflects on the last few months, she says “It is critical that our youth continue to be engaged and exposed to learning. More than ever, we must be intentional about ensuring our youth are connected and engaged so they can have a sense of community, support, belonging, and a safe space to learn and grow with their peers. The Teen Center Media Program has been one of these spaces for our young people.”

Youth designed bi-lingual census flyers to place in grocery bags that are delivered weekly to LAYC families. LAYC staff and youth worked to address the new challenges to completing the 2020 Census and even added podcasts to their digital outreach strategies.  Recorded by LAYC youth, podcast episodes focused on how the census intersects with race and immigration.  In the episodes, youth interviewed each other as well as people in the Columbia Heights neighborhood.  When asked, “Why is the census important to you?,” one youth participant shared her understanding of how the census will impact her community: “The census determines how much funding public facilities such as schools and medical centers in certain areas receive. Schools such as mine need funding to modernize and increase the quantity of materials like laptops and textbooks. Old laptops make it hard to get work done quickly and old textbooks don’t always have up-to-date and accurate information.” The interviews also highlighted the challenges that arise when completing the census, including difficulty navigating questions on race and ethnicity, as well as perceptions of fear and mistrust in the process.  Several youth participants shared that they had encouraged their parents to complete the census online and helped them through that process. 

Amidst novel and challenging circumstances, LAYC Teen Center staff and youth not only creatively kept media arts programming and their sense of community alive, they effectively elevated youth voices in “getting out the count” for the 2020 Census.  With the current self-response rate at just over 60%, we must all do our part between now and September 30th to ensure that every person in the country is counted.    

Listen to LAYC’s 2020 Census podcast episodes here!

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Latinos’ Degree Completion Has Increased but Acceleration Is Still Needed to Close Equity Gaps

Washington, D.C. –  On August 12, 2020, community partner, Excelencia in Education, released new research and benchmarks to close equity gaps in Latino education attainment and to ensure Latino student success in higher education. Latinos make up nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population. This number is projected to increase in the coming years. If the U.S. is to have a competitive workforce and robust civic body, increasing college completion rates for Latinos is critical.

Danielle M. Reyes, Executive Director of the Crimsonbridge Foundation, shared that Crimsonbridge supported this analysis because it, “provides valuable data and resources, and creates the opportunity for funders, policy makers, and higher education leaders to take action towards increasing and supporting college student success.”

The research analyzed the top Latino enrolling and graduating institutions at the national and state level (including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico).  Excelencia has been analyzing and releasing information on Latino college completion rates since 2009. They are excited to break down the data to assess results from two- and four-year institutions separately for the first time this year.

In addition to making the research available for free online, Excelencia will host a webinar on September 2, 2020 to discuss the implications of the research and to share a tactical plan for institutions to close the equity gap in education attainment and reach the goal of Latinos earning 6.2 million degrees by 2030. To register, click here.

Read the full article: Latinos’ Degree Completion Has Increased but Acceleration Is Still Needed to Close Equity Gaps

Read the Latino College Completion US-National Fact Sheet. For the complete findings, click here.

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How Organizations Can Support College Students in their Return to Campus

Robyn Attebury Ellis August 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended higher education and is posing unique challenges for nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping first-generation college students succeed. Organizations continue to show courage and creativity as they adapt to meet new challenges and provide timely support for the students and families they serve. In June, the College Completion Colleagues (C3) Initiative partners – the Scheidel Foundation, the Crimsonbridge Foundation,  Capital Partners for Education, College Success Foundation DC, Generation Hope, New Futures, CollegeTracks, and Collegiate Directions – met virtually to brainstorm and share strategies to support college students’ return to campus during the pandemic.  

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Crimsonbridge Founder, Gabriela Smith, Recognized in Washington Life’s Philanthropic 50

July 2020

Each year, Washington Life Magazine recognizes the philanthropists and philanthropic foundations that are making an exemplary difference in the Greater Washington region. This year, Crimsonbridge Foundation Founder & President Gabriela Smith, was recognized for her innovative approach to philanthropy through the work of the Crimsonbridge Foundation.

We are happy to share with you the full interview below.

Education, Gabriela Smith believes, is the pathway toward racial and economic justice. Smith created the Crimsonbridge Foundation to focus on education, leadership development, and non-profit capacity building, with a particular lens towards serving the Hispanic community in a tribute to Smith’s own formation and heritage.

“It was thanks to scholarships that I was able to advance my education,” she says. Hispanics are expected to account for 30 percent of the U.S. population by 2060. “These will be our future service providers and career professionals, our future leaders, scientists and inventors, and this is the generation that we need to help educate now,” she added. Smith is proud of the impact she and her team have already demonstrated in the foundation’s short five year history.

An anonymous donor for many years, Smith was a founding investor in Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP), the organization that utilizes a business approach to giving. As she put it in a recent interview, “VPP helped develop best practices for investing in the social sector, and, with this, the importance of outcome measurements and results.” Smith is also a former member of Georgetown University’s board of regents and of the Harvard Kennedy School’s dean’s council, her alma mater.

This interview appears in the July 2020 Edition of Washington Life Magazine.

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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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