The Latino Youth Development Collaborative (LYDC) last week graduated 18 promotores y promotoras de educación (someone specially trained to provide health education) with the skills needed to help families navigate the sometimes murky waters of the Minnesota public education system.

Minnesota has the lowest rate of Latino youth graduating from high school in the nation. LYDC has embraced the daunting task of empowering Latino families with the tools necessary to take full advantage of resources the state provides to enable the students’ success from the moment they enter the system until they graduate.

The promotores y promotoras’ mission is to help families understand their rights as parents and students, to advocate for and to entice family engagement within their school communities. Participants undergo 12 intense weekly seminars designed to bring them up to speed them on subjects that broaden their understanding of the school system. The subjects range from child development from 3 to 18 years, power structures within the school system from the classroom to the legislature, how teachers grade students, what students need to pass from one grade to the next, the importance of reading, to how parents can choose a school for their children. With this training the LYDC hopes the promoters will impact communities with the newly acquired knowledge and advocate for student’s rights while sparking families to engage with their school community.

Graduation day kicked off with a lively conference where an audience of more than 150 engaged speakers on topics such as discrimination within the school system, something that resonated with the participants and provoked many to share their own stories about situations with the system. There was also a panel of three speakers that described on the legal battles endured by the Mexican families in St. Paul who sued the school district and whose efforts prompted the creation of the Latino Consent Decree. Families also learned how to report Title 6 violations in the school system. Title 6 forces schools to provide meaningful access to information such as grades, something that even though it is a parents’ right to be able access, if the parents or caregivers are not fluent in English such information can be difficult to obtain.

LYDC is a nonprofit organization that relies on volunteer efforts, donations and the support of the Hennepin County 4th District leadership. Commissioner Peter McLaughlin of the 4th District has mobilized the county’s support, working alongside LYDC supporting the Latino community and its student body. A champion for providing equal educational opportunities for all his constituents, McLaughlin attended the festivities and presented the Promotores y Promotoras with their diplomas. Thanks to his and the county’s efforts that meaningful initiatives such as this can materialize and impact the community to ensure a more even footing for all Minnesotan Latino children to develop and grow up to become the best version of themselves they can be, LYDC supporters say.

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