"I want to raise awareness in Little Village about the importance of education. Let our voices be heard in support of our children's schools, but also all the schools in the community. I want to serve as an example for my children.” Diana, Padre Líder.
Enlace’s parent leaders group, Padres Líderes, began meeting weekly this July (2017). Padres Líderes are responding to the challenge of how to create fully functional schools that address issues of discrimination, immigration, and budget cuts. "We found that what united us was not only caring about the well-being of our own children, but also the common well-being of all the students in our community," explains Rocio García, Parent Involvement Coordinator at Enlace and facilitator of the group.
As a result of the weekly meetings and of the testimonies and shared experiences, the group has decided it was imperative to learn about the structure of public schools and their functioning. To do this, they invite a variety of presenters to their meetings and participate in meetings on education issues. "We visited a City Council meeting, and we started attending the CPS Board of Education meetings, as well as attending local meetings of school councils (LSC), Bilingual Committees, and Every Student Success Act (ESSA)," explains Rocio. "The group was energized by the same interest, to get involved and to participate more actively in these meetings."
Since last July, the group has also completed the Enlace Leadership Academy and has worked together to involve a greater number of participants and parents in community education issues. On January 23, Padres Líderes organized the first of several community meetings in order to create spaces to build and share knowledge about the community’s public schools and their ongoing challenges, such as the continuous budget cuts in CPS. Padres Líderes seeks to generate community participation, change the negative image of Little Village, eradicate violence, and promote education advocacy. "I want to be a motivator, an agent of change. I want to show that we are a united and strong group," explains Julia, one of the Padres Líderes of Little Village.
Enlace has organized and promoted the local leadership of Little Village parents since its start, more than 25 years ago. This heightened level of engagement, in response to the external attacks of the Federal Administration, is part of Enlace’s goal to build powerful, engaged, and community-led action councils across each of the organizations key issue areas: education, immigration, health, and violence prevention.