• by Oanh H. Maroney, M.A. • IDRA Newsletter • January 2000 • 

Most people are familiar with the well-known African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” The advice prescribed therein is the building block for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Engaging Latino Communities for Education (ENLACE) initiative. The $28.7 million six-year initiative is supporting broad, community-wide coalition building and collaboration as a catalyst for increasing opportunities for Latino students to achieve educational success. The Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) is serving as the managing partner for the initiative. The National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) is serving as cluster evaluator.

Coalitions to Support the Educational Pipeline

ENLACE is derived from the Spanish word enlazar, which means to link or weave together. The linking together or weaving of valuable resources in the community is a vital component of the initiative. Based on a framework of experience derived from the learnings from other W.K. Kellogg Foundation-funded initiatives, the three continuous threads for ENLACE include: a common vision of a brighter future for Latino youth, collaborative work in coalitions, and a focus on strengthening public school-university-community partnerships.

ENLACE will increase opportunities for Latinos to enter and complete college through sustainable partnerships among higher education institutions and local communities. The foundation believes that the most effective way to achieve this goal is to maximize and leverage already-existing resources in communities. ENLACE seeks to create change through enhancing community-wide coalitions that will foster success by supporting students as they proceed from public school to higher education. The critical component is a seamless educational pipeline that is supported by the community.

In Phase I of the initiative, the foundation is providing one-year planning grants of up to $100,000 to 10 to 15 coalitions in the initiative’s target areas: California, Florida, New York, Texas, the Midwest (Illinois and Michigan), and the Southwest (Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico). See Page 4 for the list of grantees.

In Phase II of the initiative, the foundation will provide eight to 10 implementation grants of up to $2 million each over four years. (Only Phase I grantees will be eligible to submit proposals for Phase II implementation grants.)

Phase III of the effort will focus on institutionalization and sustainability. The initiative will assess impact and garner lessons learned from projects, both individually and collectively. This information will be disseminated to impact additional change by sharing best practices with other communities throughout the United States.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation anticipates several key outcomes as a result of ENLACE:

  • Hispanic serving institutions (HSIs) and other institutions of higher education will be strengthened in their roles to become catalysts for change within their communities.
  • HSIs and other institutions will act in partnership with Latino communities to articulate and implement comprehensive plans aimed at strengthening the educational pipeline, decreasing high school dropout rates, and increasing college completion rates.
  • Latino organizations, communities, and students will be represented substantively in decision making, in the formation of plans, in the implementation of creative educational models, and in the governance process.
  • Latino faculty and student leadership roles and capacity will be expanded in the process of developing and implementing plans and in sustaining partnerships.
  • Innovative plans, based on the objectives of ENLACE, will be developed to promote a sense of communal responsibility for greater academic access and success for Latino youth.
  • Models and information about university-public school-community-business partnerships will reach a variety of local, state, and national audiences, including decision makers, colleges, universities, school districts, and policy-makers.
  • New ways of collaborating will lead to broader educational development through community service components and multisector investment.
  • Dialogue with key public policy stakeholders will identify points of leverage for systemic change.

Engaged Communities

ENLACE presents numerous possibilities. The potential for impact and change is challenging and encouraging. Even in planning for the six-year initiative, the ideas, activities and goals generated by the various project coalitions may be implemented and sustained outside of the formal initiative. While the funding available from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation is a hearty incentive, the key factor that will make the initiative and any of the proposed coalitions successful is the willingness of the coalition partners to invest their commitment to the effort.

Strengthened communities will be nurtured and supported by the effects of new and sustained coalitions. Institutional engagement is embedded in the concept of strengthened communities. The Kellogg Commission of the Future of State and Land-Grant Universities (1999) says the ideal of engagement involves partnerships in which:

  • problems are defined together;
  • goals and agendas are shared in common;
  • definitions of success are meaningful to both the university and the community and are developed together; and
  • university and public funds are pooled or leveraged.

When all of these factors are at work, everyone in the community is a stakeholder. The Kellogg Commission notes, “The most successful engagement efforts appear to be those associated with strong and healthy relationships with partners in government, business and the non-profit world.”

Strengthened communities and engaged institutions will foster sustained institutional change. Such change can include (but certainly is not limited to) transformed institutional policies, practices and perspectives. With institutional change comes the erosion of the old “Ivory Tower” perspective, which then gives way to new and sustained opportunities for communities to lend their voices and their assets to the institution in such ways that everyone benefits from the new relationship. While the university is a source of great academic knowledge, it can only be maximized as a resource when the knowledge that the institution generates and transmits is valuable and applicable to the community that it serves.

As a result, we will have increased student and faculty diversity, along with increased support for student success at institutions of higher education. This will benefit the institutions, the students, and the entire community.

The Difference

Even before grants were announced, ENLACE began making an impact in many communities as partners gathered to discuss potential collaborations. IDRA has fielded numerous questions from prospective grantees about the initiative and shared these questions and answers on our web page. We have heard wonderful testimonies about the networking that has already taken place and the coalitions that have been formed as a result of this effort. People and institutions have come together for the purpose of ENLACE who have not come together before and who might not have even thought about coming together, were it not for this initiative.

While only a limited number of proposals are being funded as part of this effort, the hope is that the coalitions that have been formed will recognize the value in what they have created to this point and continue to work toward achieving the initiative’s goals of access and opportunity for Latino students. The possibilities that stem out of ENLACE are endless.

Due to the efforts of many, ENLACE is making a difference. Individuals and institutions in communities are taking a stand for Latino students. Communities are being strengthened by the development of inclusive, interrelational partnerships where everyone is a stakeholder in the well-being of that community. It is anticipated that communities will see that the new entity being formed is stronger than all of its parts, and can look within themselves to determine how to capitalize on the strengths that each part of the community brings to bear. People are, in fact, willing to change the status quo – eager to make a difference.

ENLACE Initiative Grantees

The following coalitions have been awarded grants by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for Phase I of the ENLACE Initiative.


  • Arizona State University
  • University of Southern Colorado
  • Sante Fe Community College
  • University of New Mexico
  • New Mexico State University


  • Northeastern Illinois University


  • California State University Fresno
  • California State University Los Angeles
  • University of California Santa Barbara
  • Santa Ana College


  • University of South Florida
  • Florida International University
  • Miami-Dade Community College

New York

  • City College of New York – Lehman College
  • City College of New York – Hostos Community College


  • St. Edward’s University
  • Southwest Texas State University
  • University of Texas Brownsville/Texas Southmost College


Kellogg Commission on the Future on State and Land-Grant Universities. Returning to Our Roots: The Engaged Institution (Washington, D.C.: National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges, February 1999).

Oanh H. Maroney, M.A., is an administrative assistant to the IDRA executive director. Comments and questions may be directed to her via e-mail at feedback@idra.org.

[©2000, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the January 2000 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.]