Kids Are at the Heart of the Padres Comprometidos con CHISPA Training

By Eddi Ortiz, Parent and Family Engagement Coordinator, Para Los Niños Charter Schools, NCLR Affiliate

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After traveling to San Antonio for the Padres Comprometidos (PC) con CHISPA training, I walked into the venue and discovered a room full of educators much like myself. Most of us were meeting each other for the first time, but all of us were at the training for the same purpose: to learn from each other and discuss how to best engage parents and families in STEM through the PC con CHISPA program. Now in our third year, PC con CHISPA introduces Latino parents around the country to the STEM concepts their children are learning at school. As a parent facilitator at the training, I had an opportunity to network, share ideas, and work in groups to improve my skills.

I discovered at the training that other parent facilitators face similar challenges in engaging parents. Para Los Niños Charter Schools, located in Los Angeles, works with our city’s most at-risk children, and provides a comprehensive approach to education. We not only focus on academic achievement, but also work to meet each student’s emotional, social, and psychological needs. The PC con CHISPA training allowed me to share best practices and ideas that are working for us at my school.

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Padres Comprometidos con CHISPA Goes to Texas: A Reflection

By Eric DeJesus, Assistant Program Director at Cypress Hills

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I left the Padres Comprometidos (PC) con CHISPA training in San Antonio feeling reenergized.

I had the opportunity to meet dedicated and highly motivated educators from NCLR’s Affiliate Network. As an Assistant Program Director at Cypress Hills Afterschool Learning Center, and a resident of the community I serve in Brooklyn, I greatly understand the value parent involvement can have in a school’s development.

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My Time at the CHISPA Institute

By Irma Lopez, Program Manager, New Economics for Women

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I can’t believe it has been almost four years since we started CHISPA at New Economics for Women (NEW) Learning Centers. Coming to Washington, DC, for the CHISPA National Institute was a great opportunity to connect with other Affiliates who carry out the same work we do at NEW. At NEW, we want to inspire our community’s children to achieve their dreams of becoming a scientist, engineer, or astronaut!

Listening to Dr. Anita Krishnamurthi, Vice President of STEM Policy at the Afterschool Alliance and a CHISPA Advisor, opened our eyes to the high demand there is for afterschool programs throughout the United States. It was extremely powerful to hear that for every child in an afterschool program, there are two who are waiting to get in—a staggering figure when one considers that there are currently 10.2 million children enrolled in an afterschool program. Additionally, it is important to note that parents also want to see more STEM activities in their children’s afterschool programs.

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Showcasing the 2016 NCLR Innovation Lab

How NCLR STEM Is Creating Innovative Spaces for Latino Youth

By Cindy Zavala, NCLR Education Programs Associate

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The Innovation Lab student groups at the 2016 NCLR Líderes Summit Bienvenida

Last month in Orlando, NCLR STEM held the Innovation Lab Showcase during this year’s NCLR Líderes Summit. The NCLR Innovation Lab is a program that inspires social entrepreneurship by encouraging students to tackle some of the most pressing needs in their communities. Finalists presented their innovation and product they designed to meet a need in their community. The student finalists were from four NCLR Affiliates: Conexión Américas, Mujeres Latinas en Acción, Gads Hill Center, and Sociedad Latina.

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NCLR Educators Invest in Informal Science Education

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The new cohort of CHISPA 2.0 educators.

Last month, NCLR welcomed its new cohort of CHISPA 2.0 educators to Fort Worth, Texas, for three days of STEM engagement.

The CHISPA (Children Investigating Science with Parents and Afterschool) program works to increase STEM learning among Latino youth, and encourages parental involvement in their children’s education. Through CHISPA, students and parents have an opportunity to foster a greater understanding of the STEM disciplines, and learn new strategies for navigating the education system.

NCLR STEM manager Juliana Ospina Cano, along with two educators from previous CHISPA cohorts, Irma Lopez from New Economics for Women and Rico Harris from the Latin American Montessori Bilingual School (LAMB), led this year’s session. The presenters discussed ways to implement CHISPA’s After-School Program Exploring Science (APEX) curriculum, as well as our parent engagement program Padres Comprometidos con CHISPA.

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Meet the Future of Latino STEM Professionals: Kenia Cruz

The Lone Star State is the setting for NCLR’s 2016 STEM Youth Summit in Houston this coming January at the Johnson Space Center. The STEM Youth Summit, generously supported by Shell Oil, is designed to expose Latino youth to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines through hands-on exploratory activities and engagement. At the event, students will have the opportunity to work closely with Latino STEM professionals who seek to increase the number of underrepresented youth in STEM fields. Participants will also have the opportunity to collaborate and work with other youth from our national Escalera network. As the Summit draws nearer, we’ll be featuring some of the remarkable young people, in their own words, who look forward to attending this year’s event. Today’s spotlight is on Kenia Cruz, a student at West Jefferson High School in New Orleans, La.

Kenia photoHi! I’m Kenia Cruz, a proud Latina.

I’m from La Ceiba, Honduras and moved to New Orleans last year. My culture is full of food, fiestas, and of course, la familia. Spending time with my family and wanting them to be proud of me is my goal.

I got involved in Escalera STEM at school, when my counselor talked to me about it. My favorite part of the program is preparing myself for my future and making new friends. I think that what is fun about this program is always learning and doing something new each day.

Escalera STEM has showed me that being Latino does not have to stop me from achieving my goals. I did not know what STEM was before this program. I have learned that STEM applies to many careers and I have learned more about each field and the careers available.

Check back here for more spotlights on NCLR STEM Youth Summit participants. You can visit nclr.org/issues/education for more information on youth-oriented programs.

Underwater Dreams Inspire Latino Youth

Lorenzo Santillan, a student featured in the documentary Underwater Dreams, was a featured guest at NCLR’s Family STEM Day this month. The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) was the setting for the daylong event and provided an opportunity to bring an awareness of the STEM field for parents and their children. More than 300 middle and high school students participated, along with their parents. Dr. Raul Reyna, Executive Director of UTSA’s Prefreshman Engineering Program, opened the event and introduced keynote speaker Santillan.

In his keynote speech, Santillan spoke about the barriers he and his fellow students had to overcome to be successful in school and beyond. He praised his family and teachers who helped him along the way to get to where he is now as an enterprenuer and a speaker.

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After the keynote address the students participated in several STEM-related breakout sessions, presented by UTSA students and professors. Many of the presentations featured robotics programs from several local science academies. These hands-on sessions allowed the participants to interact with people directly involved in the STEM field.

After the students participated in two rotations of STEM activities they were treated to a special screening of Underwater Dreams. The screening was followed by a question and answer session with Santillan, which included questions about how he became interested in robotics and other challenges he faced during the competition, which is the subject of the documentary. Afterward, students had an opportunity to meet and speak with Santillan.

We thank Lorenzo Santillan, Dr. Reyna, and the entire UTSA Engineering Department for hosting this wonderful family event!

To learn more about NCLR’s youth STEM work, go to nclr.org/issues/education

Meet the Future of Latino STEM Professionals: Enrique Alba

The Lone Star State is the setting for NCLR’s 2016 STEM Youth Summit in Houston this coming January at the Johnson Space Center. The STEM Youth Summit, generously supported by Shell Oil, is designed to expose Latino youth to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines through hands-on exploratory activities and engagement. At the event, students will have the opportunity to work closely with Latino STEM professionals who seek to increase the number of underrepresented youth in STEM fields. Participants will also have the opportunity to collaborate and work with other youth from our national Escalera network. As the Summit draws nearer, we’ll be featuring some of the remarkable young people, in their own words, who look forward to attending this year’s event. Today’s spotlight is on Enrique Alba, a senior at George I. Sanchez Charter School in Houston.

Enrique photo_noncroppedI’m Enrique Alba. I’m 18 years old. I was born in Houston but my parents were born in Mexico. I’m currently a senior at George I. Sanchez Charter School. In my spare time I like to draw and paint portraits.

I got involved in the NCLR Escalera program during my junior year after my teacher recommended the class. My favorite part about the program is that you get to experience college tours. I enjoy getting a better understanding about how college is important and the guidance offered throughout my senior year has been invaluable.

NCLR Escalera STEM has supported me by teaching me how to manage my college budget, and showing me what to expect during my first year of college. Thanks to Escalera I have already applied to four different Tier 1 universities and will be making my decision on which one to attend once my financial aid packages have been determined.

As an artist, I have learned that while STEM has predominately been known as Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, the new trend is to now call it STEAM. The introduction of Arts is something that has really interested me as I have begun to build my portfolio and hope to study Studio Art after high school.

Check back here for more spotlights on NCLR STEM Youth Summit participants. You can visit nclr.org/issues/education for more information on youth-oriented programs.

The NCLR Innovation Lab: Inspiring Entrepreneurship in Latino Youth

Latino students make up 25 percent of the student population but only about 7 percent of the STEM workforce. One way we’re working to increase that 7 percent figure is through our Innovation Lab.

Earlier this month, STEM educators from ten different program sites traveled to our headquarters in Washington to participate in Innovation Lab, a two-day training on the new STEM curriculum inspired by the film Underwater Dreams.

Underwater Dreams

Underwater Dreams tells the story of a group of low-income Latino high school students and how they won a prestigious robotics competition. The goal of the NCLR Innovation Lab is for Latino students to identify a genuine need in their community and to develop a tech-based solution to address that gap or that challenge.

Juliana Ospina Cano, NCLR STEM Manager, and Jose Rodriguez, NCLR Regional Director of Education for Texas and the Southwest Region, organized and led the NCLR Innovation Lab training.

“We can see that there is a significant gap in STEM education. As a result, NCLR has developed a series of K–12 programs to encourage more Latino students to consider pursuing a STEM career,” said Juliana Ospina Cano.

The educators

The first day of the Innovation Lab was dedicated to introducing the educators to the curriculum and STEM mindset. By using Underwater Dreams as inspiration, our Affiliates will tap into the resilient Latino spirit to problem-solve and develop solutions for challenges faced in the community.

“I work in K–5 classrooms teaching engineering and 95 percent of our students are Hispanic. I am very excited to be here to bring more opportunities to them,” said Lauren Levy, STEM Specialist at Synergy Charter Elementary School. “I think Underwater Dreams will inspire our students by motivating them and it could lead to grassroots movements in our community.”

On the second day, the teachers presented the lesson plans they created for the curriculum the day before. They were evaluated on their delivery and received collective feedback, which participants found to be especially valuable.

“I serve grades 9–12. The mock lessons have been very helpful because I am able to see how other people interpret the same curriculum and how it is flexible,” said Martin Barrera, Instructor at Los Angeles Leadership Academy High School. “The educators in the room have been very supportive.”

Next steps: our students and comunidad

The educators will return to their communities and begin implementing the NCLR Innovation Lab program. Ospina Cano and Rodriguez will follow up with regular communication and professional development.

“Our primary focus is for these educators to experience success in the implementation of the NCLR Innovation Lab,” said Rodriguez.