Our Collective Responsibility to a Generation of Latinos
Comments on the Release of the “Unrealized Impact” Report
By: Amanda Fernandez
Welcome to the Con Ganas We Can blog, a space dedicated to amplifying the Latino voice in the education sector.
Today, NewSchools Venture Fund released a report entitled “Unrealized Impact”, a groundbreaking study on diversity, equity and inclusion in the education sector. The study is based on input from more than 200 education organizations and nearly 5,000 individuals, and was authored by Xiomara Padamsee, CEO of Promise54, and Becky Crowe, Senior Adviser, Bellwether Education Partners.
While the data presented does not surprise most of us in the sector, it brings to light hard evidence of what many of us have known for a while: Latinos are consistently underrepresented. While 40% of the students the survey sample are Latino, we only represented 8% of senior leadership and 7% of board membership. According to the report, senior roles are the least diverse and least representative of students, with significant underrepresentation among Latinos.
These staggering numbers are often rolled-up under an umbrella of diversity, equity and inclusion, but rarely do we get this level of granular clarity regarding the full picture of the state of the sector. Latinos don’t make it past low and mid-level roles — a fact that fuels our dedication at Latinos for Education.
It was this sense of inequity that inspired the founders of Latinos for Education: five Latinas in the education sector* connected through the Aspen Institute’s Pahara Fellowship. In 2015, we gathered in a Brooklyn brownstone where we sat around a table sharing common experiences about being the first in our families in all we have accomplished. In that moment, we bonded in a shared belief that an organization like Latinos for Education needed to exist. We said, “¡Ya basta! Enough is enough” – and we agreed it was our collective responsibility to dramatically change the trajectory of a generation of Latinos in education. We decided when it comes to whose hands we entrust decisions about educational opportunity for millions of Latino children and their families – something had to change.
While it will be incumbent upon education organizations and schools to not only reflect the students but to be inclusive and have equitable practices, we know organizations like ours are required to amplify the voices of Latinos in education. By supporting leadership development and creating access to the networks we know are necessary to getting there, Latinos for Education will connect the dots for Latino leaders across the sector. History tells us those who are most affected by inequity must lead the change we wish to see and as such, we at Latinos for Education are called to serve this mission and gladly accept this charge. We will build the largest coalition of Latinos in education who unite around common issues, raise up individual and collective voices, and join hands with our Latino communities. Con ganas we can. Con ganas we will.
*The five Latina founders of Latinos for Education include Susan Valverde, JoAnn Gama, Tina Fernandez, Lisette Nieves and Amanda Fernandez.