At The Junior League, the best measurement is our ability to create lasting community impact.
That is what we strive to do with every program or initiative we start.
So it’s always interesting to take a look at a truly long-running program to see what makes it work so well. Consider Con mi MADRE: Mothers and Daughters Raising Expectations. Started in 1992 by the Junior League of Austin as the Hispanic Mother-Daughter Program, Con Mi MADRE is now an independent nonprofit organization with a powerhouse board, a dedicated staff and a proven track record.
But it all started with a simple observation by JLA members: A rising percentage of Hispanic girls in the community were dropping out of high school and not graduating. Recognizing the value of education and the valuable opportunities a high school diploma provides, the League took action.
That’s the first part of the success formula: finding a compelling need among an underserved or at-risk segment of the community and then addressing it.
The second piece of the success formula is finding the right community partners. JLA worked with the University of Texas at Austin to set up the program, and Con Mi Madre still receives donated office from the UT School of Social Work. Other community partners included the United Way Capital Area, The RGK Foundation and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.
The third part of the success formula is developing the right program. Designed to educate and empower Hispanic girls to stay in school, graduate, and pursue a college or equivalent higher education, Con Mi MADRE also involved the girls’ mothers from the first, and that became an important element in the program.
The fourth part of the success formula is involving Junior League members in the program in a hands-on way. JLA members, active from the first, are instrumental in implementing the program across the Austin Independent School District.
The final piece of the success formula, of course, is results. According to Con Mi MADRE, over 2,069 mother-daughter teams have participated in the program since 1992, with 73% of 592 graduating seniors going on to a two or four-year college. About 60% of girls are the first in their family to attend college, and two thirds come from low-income families.
So that’s the formula JLA used to create lasting community impact with Con Mi MADRE.
So does it work?
Just listen to what one program participant had to say: “ I have been a member of Con Mi MADRE for six years, and throughout these years my mother and I have gained so much needed knowledge about college that did not exist within our family. I am going to be the first person in my family to ever attend college and one of the handful of people in my family who has actually graduated from high school. Con Mi MADRE has been like a stepping stone helping me to achieve my goal of attending college. If I ever had a question the ladies of Con Mi MADRE have always been there to answer me. Thanks to Con Mi MADRE and the events that were scheduled such as the conferences, volunteer projects, and college and career fairs, my mother and I got a better idea of what colleges were looking for in students. Without Con Mi MADRE my parents and I would not have known the steps to take in order to enter college. I highly recommend Con Mi MADRE to other Latina girls who are also new to the college application process and want a college education.”