By Bailey Buckingham
An Austin-based non-profit program that centers on helping Latina youth seeks to extend its program into Hays CISD.
In June, representatives from Con Mi Madre presented to the Hays CISD board of trustees its past successes and its plans for the Hays school district.
“I was floored by the success that they’ve had in AISD and Del Valle and the surrounding areas,” Board secretary Teresa Tobias said. “I was intrigued by their different approach, in the sense that it helps not only the girl but it really helps the mother.”
Tobias said the program has a zero level percentage of dropouts and near zero level of teenage pregnancies, which she said showed her the importance of this program.
Teresa Granillo, Con Mi Madre executive director, said it was a natural fit to extend the program into Hays CISD as the population in the area continues to grow.
“Hays has seen significant growth in the Latina community, especially Latina youth,” Granillo said. “And it tends to be low income so that’s the target demographic for our program. We want to help those that wouldn’t otherwise have the chance. We want to plant that seed early to make sure they succeed.”
Granillo said during its presentation that to begin the program in Hays, they are requesting $15,000, which will cover the program’s costs.
Karen Gonzales, Con Mi Madre program director, said students can begin participating in the sixth grade once the program is in a district and recruitment takes place.
“We visit the girls twice a month and it would be during school hours but not during core periods,” Gonzales said. “Either a lunch period, advisory period, any time of the day that isn’t a core curriculum class.”
Con Mi Madre has licensed social workers and educators who have designated curriculum for each meeting with the girls.
“For example, for our 6th grade girls, we start out with a vision board,” Gonzales said. “This gives the girls an opportunity to put into something tangible what they want to accomplish for their future, such as career goals or what university they want to attend, so the girls can see that whatever they’re hoping for is attainable.”
When the girls reach 11th and 12th grade, the program shifts focus to undergraduate preparation. Con Mi Madre holds workshops to teach the girls how to fill out college applications and financial aid forms with the assistance of their mothers and Con Mi Madre representatives.
“Once the girls reach that age, aside from the workshops, they also have the opportunity to have a mentor that is dedicated to only that particular student in order to give them personalized advice,” Gonzales said.
Some of the girls in the program go on overnight stays at universities such as The University of Texas at Austin and Texas State University.
During the overnight stay, students are accompanied by their mothers, so the child and parent can experience college lifestyle.
“Con Mi Madre means ‘with my mother’,” Tobias said. “They’re trying to push the daughter and the mother up, and it truly does not only help the young women succeed but their family as a whole.”
Con Mi Madre began in 2008. It had been an extension of the Hispanic Mother Daughter Project, which originated in 1990 after a state demographer reported that a Latina girl had less than a 1 percent chance of going to college.
In 2013, the Con Mi Madre team recognized they weren’t doing enough by just getting girls graduated and in college, Granillo said.
“We realized we needed to ensure that they stay in college,” Granillo said. “So, we started the Success Program which focuses on post-secondary success.”
Granillo said the mission has stayed the same throughout the years. Con Mi Madre primarily focuses on assisting Latina girls to get an education, while also giving mothers the tools to assist their daughters in achieving success.
San Marcos CISD has adapted this program and recruitment for the upcoming year took place in May.
The next step for the Hays process is meeting with administration for schools within Hays CISD to ensure they understand the requirements and the program’s policies before moving forward.
Tobias said she is hoping to get Con Mi Madre into an action item by August or September at the latest.