• IDRA Newsletter • May 2020 •

IDRA launched a partnership with two community-based organizations in the Texas Rio Grande Valley to help Spanish-speaking families navigate virtual classrooms while schools are closed due to COVID-19.

Mentors from the College Scholarship Leadership Access Program (CSLAP) provide tech support to members of ARISE, a grassroots organization that promotes empowerment through education and part of IDRA’s Education CAFE network. ARISE volunteers connect families with CSLAP mentors, who are graduates of Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD with computer, software and technical expertise on online learning platforms. Each mentor holds office hours during which they provide support over Zoom or by phone.

“We are proud that ARISE – the very first IDRA Education CAFE – is again innovating to help close the digital divide in a region facing some of the most troubling challenges with access to internet and computer devices,” said IDRA President & CEO Celina Moreno. “Education CAFEs support the leadership of parents, grandparents, siblings and neighbors – all of whom are critical custodians of children’s academic success.”

To request free tech support assistance, families and students in the lower Rio Grande Valley of south Texas may contact Vicky Santana, ARISE education coordinator, at 830-719-7273.

While families must stay home, IDRA is working to:

  • Survey parents on their children’s educational needs during this stressful and isolating period;
  • Establish a phone network for parents to help reduce the sense of isolation with a focus on continuing the education of their children;
  • Help organizations, who traditionally provide services through home visits, in-home meetings or meetings in community spaces, transition to serving families with virtual and other tools they can currently access; and
  • Assist parents sustain a virtual network through devices and apps available to the most isolated and underserved communities.

“At difficult times we are faced with all kinds of challenges,” said Lourdes Flores, ARISE executive director. “We cannot sit back and expect that we cannot involve ourselves. Our children need our support, creativity and leadership to provide the assistance they need to succeed in school. It’s time to make connections, build bridges and combine forces to make our community thrive.”

ARISE (A Resource in Serving Equality) is a grassroots organization with locations in several South Texas colonias (unincorporated small communities) with staff and volunteers who work in their neighborhoods to better the community and support the emerging leadership.

“When communities work together to educate their children, we all prosper,” said Thomas Ray Garcia, CSLAP executive director. “Connecting CSLAP mentors to families has enabled students’ distance learning to continue unabated during these trying times.”

CSLAP is a nonprofit organization that hosts college access workshops at local high schools and provides near-peer mentorship for graduating students.

A participant’s mother, Regina Romero, said: “Agradecidas que se toman el tiempo y que le estan ayudando mucho y lista para conectarse con CSLAP,  Agradecidos con ARISE que mi hija esta bien contenta recibiendo esta ayuda. Agradecida con Dios y ustedes que son unos angeles, mi hija se siente con mas confianza.” [“We are thankful that they take the time and that they are helping us a lot and ready to connect with CSLAP. We’re thankful for ARISE, because my daughter is very happy receiving this help. Grateful to God and you who are angels, my daughter feels more confident.”]

[©2020, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the May 2020 IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]