Program Helps Latino Students Graduate High School, Pursue Higher Education

AMES, Iowa — Ninety percent of Iowa’s total population over age 25 has a high school education and 25 percent has a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to a 2013 State Data Center of Iowa report. Those numbers are much different for Iowa’s Latino population. In 2011, only 55 percent of Latinos had at least a high school education and 11 percent held a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Schools, parents and community partners are working with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach to improve outcomes for Latino students. “Juntos: Together for a Better Education,” is a six-session interactive workshop series for Latino parents and middle to high school youth. The workshops promote high school graduation and exploration of possible paths to higher education. Trained community facilitators, with instructional support from ISU Extension and outreach, conduct the program in each community.

“The Juntos program is designed for English and Spanish-speaking parents and their teens,” said Mary Weinand, family finance specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach. “It gives both parents and teens the same knowledge, skills and resources, which helps parents get involved and provide academic support for their child.”

Through Juntos, ISU Extension and Outreach specialists have worked with high schools, community colleges and businesses to help 108 Latino youth and parents increase their understanding of how to successfully graduate from high school and pursue higher education.

“Program evaluation data reveal that after participating in Juntos, parents feel more confident in working with their child’s school and improved in monitoring their youth’s homework, talking with their youth about school, college or other future plans,” said Weinand.

Providing Juntos across Iowa

More than 40 trained facilitators have conducted Juntos in Iowa communities, including Columbus Junction, Muscatine, Waterloo, Mt. Pleasant, Des Moines, Council Bluffs and Perry. ISU Extension and Outreach will offer a two-day facilitator training in March to prepare more individuals to implement the Juntos program in their community.

“Communities interested in offering Juntos should send a team to the facilitator training,” said Weinand. “At least two community members and one Extension and Outreach staff member – with one being bi-lingual in Spanish and English – should attend for each interested community.”

The facilitator training will be March 26 – 27 at the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Urbandale Office at 10861 Douglas Avenue, Suite B. The first day of training is 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.; the second day is 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

The cost of the training is $200 per person, which includes a facilitator curriculum, refreshments and meals. Registration can be made by contacting Tammy Jacobs at 515-727-0656 or trjacobs@iastate.edu; or by downloading the brochure and completing the registration form. Registration and payment must be received by March 20. Training class size is limited to 25 individuals.

For more information, visit www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/juntos or contact a family finance specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach.


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