1. 1530 Tremont St. Roxbury, MA 02120 ● (617) 442-4299 ● Fax (617) 442-4087 ● www.sociedadlatina.org
We are a nonprofit tax-exempt organization. ● Sociedad Latina es una organización sin fines de lucro.
March 26, 2012
Robert S. Gulick
The Dusky Foundation
50 Congress St., Suite 925
Boston, MA 02109
Dear Mr. Gulick,
Sociedad Latina’s target, at-risk youth are in a precarious position. They are up against poverty, racism, low-performing schools,
language barriers, and issues associated with immigration status and family mobility. But year after year we celebrate the
successes of youth as they graduate from high school, enter college, receive job offers, and grow into competent, confident, self-
sufficient adults leading positive change in our community. Our after-school, middle school Mission Enrichment Program (MEP),
part of Sociedad Latina’s array of research-based and data-driven solutions developed after multiple community needs
assessments, provides a safe space and understands and meets their needs. MEP offers opportunities and a stepping stone
toward a brighter future. With over 10 years of accomplishments behind us, it continues to be our community’s leading after-
school program and has been recognized by Boston Public Schools, BPS’ Office for English Language Learners, and Boston After
School and Beyond as a best practice in engaging middle school students. Sociedad Latina requests $10,000 from the Dusky
Foundation in support of our vital mission to develop our community’s future leaders. Funding will help us move forward and
provide more intensive MEP services, specifically a new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Club.
Mission: Since 1968, Sociedad Latina has served Latino youth and the community of Boston, pioneering new and innovative
solutions to end destructive cycles of poverty, health disparities, and lack of opportunity in our community. Thanks to creative
leadership and ground-breaking programs based on leading research and designed in direct response to community needs,
Sociedad Latina has transformed into a premier youth development organization. We provide integrated services for Latino
youth that ensure their long-term academic, professional, social, and emotional success. Sociedad Latina serves 1,000 youth at-
risk and their families each year, with a focus on the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. Our comprehensive, community
responsive, culturally relevant, intensive array of youth development programming builds skills in four key areas: Education,
Workforce Development, Civic Engagement, and Arts & Culture. Sociedad Latina’s Pathways to Success program model provides
youth with multiple, closely aligned roads to successful futures as adults, with the acknowledgment that not every youth in our
target population is college-bound. It promotes long-term engagement from age 10-21 and positive relationships with adults,
providing youth with a vast network of support they need to grow confident, competent, resilient, and self-sustaining. Required
education programs are supported by our 14-school College Access Network (e.g., Northeastern, Boston College, six Colleges of
the Fenway) that provides college student mentors/tutors, space, curriculum materials, supplies, college access and career
exploration workshops, campus visits, scholarships, and monetary support. All families sign a contract when children enroll
requiring them to actively participate. In addition, Sociedad Latina recently hired a Licensed Social Worker to handle case
management for participants and assist youth with life’s daily challenges.
With more than 40 years of work in Boston’s Latino community, Sociedad Latina understands the importance of culture in the
lives of people of color, and is in prime position to work with youth of all backgrounds. Our culturally proficient approach to
programming (currently used by Boston Public Schools as a model for closing the achievement gap) ensures programs are
designed and staff are trained to consider diverse backgrounds and regard culture as an asset – not a barrier. Our programming
also addresses cultural and linguistic barriers facing Latino youth through bilingual programming and an approach that breeds
self-acceptance and strong cultural identities. These are key factors in building youth resiliency to daily challenges and
addressing underlying issues that can leave Latino youth at a disadvantage. Cultural programming is infused into all programs to
boost academic engagement and original thinking, increase connections with Latino heritage, and promote cultural pride. Very
few organizations in Boston undertake this cultural work with the level of understanding, experience, and compassion embodied
by Sociedad Latina, and we are currently involved in an evaluation project to measure the impact of our cultural work. Current
Mission Enrichment Program (focus of this request): Many youth enter the Pathways through this model, middle school
program that integrates academic and enrichment programming to boost academic achievement, develop 21st Century
competencies, explore careers, arts, and culture, begin preparation for college, and engage in the community.
2. Mission Possible! (MP): In grade 9, students move on to MP that focuses on high school graduation and college access. MP
Alumni in college or jobs continue to receive follow-up services. Some youth choose to become further engaged with the
organization through internships in one of four employment programs that build job readiness and 21st
Century skills year-
o Youth Community Organizing (YCO): YCOs identify pressing issues in the community and engage youth and adults to
effect meaningful change. Initiatives focus on ensuring cultural proficiency in education and school lunch reform.
o Health Educators in Action: Health Educators respond to conditions that negatively impact the wellbeing of our
Latino and Roxbury communities. This year’s focus areas: tobacco control, and nutrition and fitness.
o Health Careers for Youth: Youth intern in the Longwood Medical Area, including Beth Israel, Brigham and Women’s,
Dana Farber, and Children’s. Healthcare training provided by Mass. College of Pharmacy; workforce readiness
training provided in-house.
o Youth Music Ambassadors: YMAs are hired to positively engage the community through the arts, and manage our
Music Clubhouse’s programming that provides access to music education and boosts learning engagement for youth
in our Pathways and the community who often do not have this opportunity elsewhere, either in school or in their
History: In the 1990s, with a smaller budget and fewer resources, Sociedad Latina’s mission was focused on intervention-based
youth work addressing issues such as violence and teen pregnancy. Since 1999, we have more than quadrupled our budget
through aggressive fundraising, which allows us to shift our focus to positive youth development, prevention, and systemic
change. We now empower youth and guide them successfully into college and beyond, provide meaningful jobs that build
professional and personal skills, and create progressive change in the community. In 2010, we completed a strategic planning
process with assistance from the Boston Foundation, resulting in an organizational Theory of Change and business plan, and we
are now poised for the next phase in growth. The process realigned our programming, reinvigorated our mission, and reaffirmed
our commitment to providing long-term, intensive, high-impact development programming to youth from low-income families
with a Latino focus. Our Pathways to Success program model embodies this strategy: the more aligned our programming is, the
more youth are engaged long-term and experience opportunities for success. Recent accomplishments:
100% of seniors were accepted into four-year colleges three years straight.
Over the past three years we placed 72 youth in paid internships in Longwood Medical Area hospitals.
In recent years we won the Excellence in Nonprofit Advocacy Award from Mass. Nonprofit Network and 2 “Civie” awards
The National Council of La Raza designated Sociedad Latina as a model workforce development program for Latino youth in
Executive Director Alexandra Oliver-Dávila, Associate Director Dinanyili Paulino-Rodriguez, and Board Member Ramón Soto
have all made the annual Podermetro list of the 100 most influential leaders in Massachusetts’ Latino community.
Children’s Hospital Boston awarded Sociedad Latina the 2011 William L. Boyan Award for Excellence in Community Health.
Sociedad Latina’s Mission Enrichment Program
Demographics: MEP serves Boston youth, with a focus on Latinos in the Roxbury neighborhood (highest poverty rate, 2nd
crime rate). The neighborhood, with a population of approximately 57,000, is about 25% Latino. Youth in our programs have
represented more than 20 different cultural backgrounds, and are currently 60% Latino (75% bilingual Spanish-English), 25%
African American, and 15% other diverse backgrounds. Most live at or below the poverty line (average family income is $26,000),
half are from Roxbury, and 75% live in subsidized housing or housing developments.
Need: Statistics tell an alarming story about Latinos in Boston Public Schools, the largest ethnic group at 41% and the fastest
Across all grades, almost twice as many Latinos are in the Warning/Failing and Needs Improvement categories on state
standardized tests than Whites and Asians.
In 2011, 70% of 6th
grade Latinos, 74% of 7th
graders, and 73% of 8th
scored Needs Improvement or Warning/Failing on their
Math state standardized exams; 62% of 6th
graders, 53% of 7th
graders, and 45% of 8th
graders scored the same on English
Latinos are disengaged, have an average absence rate of more than 3 wks/yr, and more than 25% never graduate (Latinos
are almost half of all dropouts), with many dropping out in middle school.
In 2009 the U.S. Dept. of Justice launched an inquiry into BPS’ failure to provide adequate ELL instruction following a state
review revealing 42% of ELLs were not receiving legally entitled services.
3. BPS is not adequately serving Latinos, who are severely disengaged due to a lack of language support and cultural connections in
schools, and this has dire consequences on long-term economic, social, and personal wellbeing. MEP’s academic instruction and
support make an immediate and measurable impact, and give young Latinos a real chance at successful futures.
Program Overview: As an entry point to our Pathways to Success, MEP is phase one of our organization’s long-term
commitment to student success. MEP serves 150 unduplicated middle school students each year with year-round programming.
It utilizes volunteer, service learner, and work study college students (College Coaches) who provide academic assistance and
program support. College Coaches receive training in teaching, mentoring, and behavior management through our Volunteer
Coordinator, serve as role models, and help youth focus on the future, consider college options, and begin college preparation.
Research shows college access support in middle school, in addition to academic success, is positively correlated to enrollment
and success in college (Institute for Higher Education Policy, 2008). And first-generation college students, as many of our target
youth will be, require more time and support. During the school year, MEP meets Monday-Thursday, 2:30-6:30pm. Programming
Numeracy skill building (4 hrs/wk)- Students connect math concepts to real-world problem solving through our custom Math
Madness program that takes the research-proven Moving with Math curriculum, aligns it with BPS curriculum, and makes it
more relevant and fun.
Homework/literacy skill-building (4 hrs/wk)- Staff and College Coaches, in communication with teachers and parents, work
one-on-one and in small groups with students to create a personalized learning environment where each student's needs
Enrichment (4 hrs/wk)- Professional consultants promote hands-on learning and expose youth to subject areas such as
music, cooking, yoga, and art (each youth chooses 3 “clubs”/year). Academic lessons are integrated into activities when
possible. Enrichment is designed to boost engagement with the program and provide incentives for academic achievement.
Through special gender-specific groups, students explore topics affecting relationships, attitudes, and self-esteem.
21st Century skills- Young people need more than academic support to succeed, and too many are unprepared for today’s
workforce. Through workshops and lessons integrated into all programming, our custom 21st
Century Skills curriculum based
on Partnership for 21st
Century Skills standards develops necessary skills such as communication and collaboration, critical
thinking, professionalism, leadership and responsibility, and work/study habits.
"MEP was a great opportunity to meet and work with college students and accomplish different things in middle school. Most
students don’t have these opportunities at school to get help with homework, be a part of the community, or help plan an after-
school program. Most of all, I enjoyed the opportunity to be active after school instead of doing other things that won’t help me
at all." –Maria Cirino, Sociedad Alumni
Additional MEP components include:
Saturday English Language Learners Academy (Saturdays, 9am-2pm): Designed to address the needs of ELL students and their
parents, the ELL Academy (5 hrs/wk) offers culturally proficient instruction in partnership with BPS to give participants the
expanded learning time they need to successfully advance to the next grade. Classes are team-taught by certified BPS teachers,
Sociedad staff, and consultants who lead enrichment activities. Parents learn strategies for supporting and advocating for their
children, and about the ELL and BPS systems.
Summer Seedlings Program (July-August, Monday-Thursday, 8:30am-3:30pm): In partnership with BPS, SSP (28 hrs/wk) provides
an engaging, culturally relevant alternative to traditional summer school that goes beyond the classroom and stems summer
learning loss. SSP’s approach integrates academic lessons with interactive, hands-on, entrepreneurial projects. This summer,
students chose between designing making a video documentary, launching a web design company, starting a record label, and
other projects that included business plan writing and developing and marketing products.
According to the National Science Foundation, nearly 80% of future careers will require awareness of and facility with STEM
learning. However, 84% of middle school students would rather clean their room, eat their vegetables, or take out the garbage
than learn math or science according to a 2005 KRC Research study. And the issue is graver for girls: a 2012 Girl Scout study
revealed only 13% of teen girls listed STEM careers as their top career choice, with more than 50% saying they were unaware of
STEM career possibilities and that it was more difficult for women than men to succeed in STEM jobs. Finally, a 2007 National
Action Council for Minorities in Engineering found that Latinos are by far the smallest percentage of college graduates with
4. MEP’s STEM Club (project focus of request)
Exposure to STEM learning and STEM career exploration is critical for our target youth, and MEP’s STEM Club provides an
effective solution. This school year, college students design and lead hands-on STEM Sessions in MEP through service
learning/work study programs. They’re teaching fundamental concepts such as cells, genetics, medicine, biotechnology, and
sound waves through engaging and fun activities. Workshops include a career exploration component that connects the material
to future opportunities. For example, youth recently dipped their hands in a jar of multicolored beads and strings, and created a
rainbow necklace that’s actually code for DNA and able to simulate the genetic translation process. Other activities included
using the scientific method to test and improve paper airplane designs, and learning about sound waves through string-and-cup
"We're combining art and science. This is definitely working for me."
Grader Alexandra Arias
"I've seen that before on TV, but now I'm learning how it actually works."
Grader Lucia Roman
Our target youth require extensive STEM learning support. In a 2005 assessment by the National Assessment of Educational
Progress, 73% of Latino and African-American 8th
grade students in Boston Public Schools scored below basic level in science;
75% of ELL 8th
grade students were below level and only 3% scored proficient. 94% of Latino 8th
graders, 95% of African
Americans, and 97% of ELL students scored Needs Improvement or Warning/Failing on the Massachusetts Science state test in
2011. By implementing these standardized tests, teachers are often forced to focus on “teaching the test,” which focuses on
memorization. Leading scientists and the National Academies of Science, however, stress that STEM learning is more effective
when the focus is on experiential learning and the scientific method. The flawed Massachusetts focus can unfortunately result in
uninteresting and boring classes, which can ultimately result in discouraging students from pursuing STEM careers, and too often
STEM is taught without critical connections between learning and college options and career possibilities.
Through our STEM Sessions we provide fun and engaging science experiences that tie in with Sociedad Latina's larger workforce
development initiative, as we believe it is never too early to begin thinking about future careers, and what education and
experience is necessary to reach these goals. For the coming school year, we seek to expand and solidify STEM programming
into a new STEM Club for MEP.
Research shows the greatest weakness of STEM after-school programs is lack of qualified instructors in the field. In this year’s
STEM Sessions, college students studying STEM fields visited each week to teach concepts through hands-on projects. We
experienced some challenges with this framework as the students were sometimes unprepared for leading the program. For this
proposed project, we intend to use a consultant to design the STEM Club, develop curriculum, and support and guide students
from our College Access Network who will lead Club activities along. This will greatly enhance MEP students’ understanding of
scientific concepts, as opposed to just completing project tasks.
Our new STEM Club will be more project-based, separated into three, 10-week sessions for 15 students/session that follow
MEP’s enrichment club calendar. Participants will work on a different project each session, which could include building a solar
car, building bridges, a “science fair” project, inventions, or robotics. The Club will run 2 hours, 2 days each week, and include 30
5. minutes of Math programming through our recently completed, customized Math Madness curriculum that uses Math games
such as bingo, basketball, and musical chairs. Sociedad Latina staff will regularly check in with teachers about the curriculum’s
impact and areas on which students should focus.
In addition, many MEP students are English Language Learners and experiential STEM activities are a perfect environment for
language learning. Hands-on learning brings vocabulary to life and exposes ELL students to academic words they will need for
success in school, college, and careers. This includes words, phrases, and rhetorical skills they infrequently use in daily life. The
team projects in STEM activities also provide new opportunities to practice English skills. Thinking skills of science, such as
questioning, predicting, and interpreting, are similar to skills necessary to understand a new language.
The powerful connection between ELL and STEM learning has been recognized in leading research and is prominent in current
education policy dialogues and initiatives. In the U.S. Department of Education’s $650 million, exclusive 2010 Investing in
Innovation competition, California’s Sonoma Valley School District was awarded a grant to expand its successful “Exploratorium”
program that teaches language skills to ELL students through a STEM curriculum. As ELL student-scientists investigate topics
such as what foods snails prefer to eat through hands-on learning, they start with their own hypotheses, test their ideas, gather
evidence, make discoveries, and then present their results to their class. The communication process involved builds STEM skills
as well as language proficiency, and almost becomes a by-product of something much more fun. Results from the program show
a 20 to 39% increase in English language development in the pilot school over 4 years, and a 22% jump in science test scores –
demonstrating a real symmetry between the subjects. The National Science Foundation also granted funding for 32 projects in
2011 that study ELL and STEM learning, the majority of which will design, develop, and test new ideas in the subject including
professional and curriculum development.
Robotics: One potential STEM Club activity is robotics. Youth are often disinterested in STEM because they don’t understand
how it applies to their lives, but by working with robotics they will begin making these connections. Through the popular and
classroom-tested LEGO Mindstorms NXT system, youth will learn mechanical design, construction, programming, and teamwork
skills. They will creatively apply math and science concepts, while practicing how to carefully read and follow instructions.
Projects will use motors and sensors, programmed with a computer, to build robots that move, react, and solve challenges. The
club will have three phases:
o Construction- Students are taught about the design process, and how to expand concepts and improve ideas. Basic
engineering principles are conveyed. Students choose projects to build from lesson plans such as an M&M’s-sorting
robot, or one that can solve a maze.
o Programming- Students learn the software used to program their robots.
o Problem Solving- Students are taught about math and physics problems, and how robots can be solutions. Lessons
include the scientific method, and statistics through trial and error. Students are given open-ended problems to solve,
such as designing a robot as an assistive device for a person with disabilities.
STEM Club Goals
o Goal 1- Engage middle school youth with hands-on STEM learning.
o Goal 2- Apply STEM concepts to real-life applications and career possibilities.
o Goal 3- Expose youth to college STEM opportunities.
MEP’s STEM Club will academically enrich the lives of students and prepare for 21st
Century careers. Research shows an interest
in science in 8th grade is a better predictor of students pursuing STEM careers than high academic performance (Afterschool
Alliance), and our Club is an engaging activity ideal for this purpose. The Club is innovative through its integration of instruction
with college and career exploration, further exposing students to STEM career possibilities. It’s never too early to begin
preparing students for college and to have them thinking about careers, and college awareness is integrated through our College
Coach role models.
Collaboration: Collaboration is key to the success of MEP. Our network of partners enables us to leverage resources and root
ourselves in the community we serve. Key partners include BPS, City Year, Commonwealth Corps, and the 14 schools in our
College Access Network. We have formal MOAs with the 3 schools served by MEP (Maurice J. Tobin, Mission Grammar, and
Mission Hill schools), and staff participate in school activities and visit daily to talk with teachers and collect homework. We
utilize space in the Mission Main (e.g., computer lab, kitchen) and Tobin community centers (e.g., sports, workshops), and work
closely with Boston Youth Service Network, the Mission Hill Youth Collaborative, and other youth organizations on
collaborations and to avoid duplicating services. Sociedad Latina is a partner in BPS’ Mission Hill Community Learning Initiative
(CLI), which creates place-based networks of schools, libraries, and community centers to support students and families.
6. Outcomes: In FY11, we tracked the following MEP outcomes: 85% of students increased one letter grade or maintained an
already high grade in ELA; 87% improved by one letter grade in Math or maintained an already high grade; 84% improved by one
letter grade in at least one additional subject; 89% improved study habits and finished homework regularly; 88% were promoted
on time; 93% received a passing grade in conduct on their report card; 95% of ELL Academy youth improved English skills; and
95% of students in our alternative summer school increased their scores in both Math and ELA between the spring and fall.
Youth reported the following outcomes: 94% became more interested in school; 94% care more about their school; 94% see
themselves graduating from middle school more easily; 94% learned better study skills.
Evaluation: MEP is evaluated through Sociedad Latina's fully customized Efforts to Outcomes database, which allows us to
analyze trends, identify program needs, and more easily report successes. With ETO we have an almost exclusively electronic
format for data collection and tracking (e.g., intakes, assessments, teacher/student feedback, report cards, attendance). The
program enables us to see what works, and helps us consistently improve programs each year. With ETO, we identify the ideal
programming dosage needed for youth to reach outcomes. MEP utilizes the pre- and post-tests of the Survey of Afterschool
Youth Outcomes (SAYO) to assess academic and social growth, and the Youth Outcomes Toolkit (YOT) to measure changes in
behaviors, motivation, attitudes, skills, and knowledge. We also incorporate tools from the National Institute on Out-of-School
Time (NIOST) at Wellesley College and Harvard’s Program in Education, Afterschool & Resiliency (PEAR) for pre- and post-
program assessments of engagement and attitudes. SSP uses the BPS ANet (Achievement Network) evaluation completed in
June and September for progress measurement. MEP is evaluated midyear and end of the year by youth, staff, and parent
Sustainability: With a more than 40-year history, Sociedad Latina has established an extensive and secure funding base, and has
a three-member Development Team constantly working to ensure a successful long-term future. Our sustainability plan is
designed to ensure the continuity of our programming by (1) keeping funding sources diversified; (2) non-stop, aggressive
research on new sources of funding; (3) professional development to increase efficiency and keep consultant fees minimal; and
(4) constant evaluation and improvement to maintain our success record and keep our organization at the vanguard of best
practices and attractive to funders. Since 1999, we have more than quadrupled our organizational budget as a result of
successfully following grant requirements, thoroughly compiling reports of our work, requesting increases in funding from
sources, and continuously applying for new sources of funding. As a core component of Sociedad Latina’s Pathways to Success
Model (which includes youth development programming in Civic Engagement, Education, Workforce Development, and Arts &
Culture), MEP and the STEM Club will remain a priority for staffing, resources, and fundraising.
A grant from the Dusky Foundation would enable us to expand STEM learning in our organization, open new pathways to STEM
careers, and help ensure successful futures for the underserved youth of our community. Please contact me directly at 617-442-
4299 x117 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. Thank you in advance for your consideration.