On Tuesday, May 19th and Wednesday May 20th, a group of nonprofit leaders from the Southwest and their supporters met in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to discuss the work that is being done to improve conditions for Latino Men and Boys.
This was the first grantee convening for HIP’s Latino Men and Boys Initiative. In 2014, in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and NEO Philanthropy, HIP launched a funding collaborative with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and local funders in Arizona and New Mexico —the Arizona Community Foundation, the Con Alma Health Foundation, and the McCune Charitable Foundation— to support programs focused on improving outcomes in health, education, and employment for Latino men and boys. The six grantees across both sites are employing diverse strategies to empower young men to make healthy changes in their lives, each with a distinct approach to the work. In Arizona:
- Aguila Youth Leadership Institute has bolstered its AGUILA Men of Honor program that focuses on academic and personal success in a community setting. This helps young men realize their potential through an experience that mirrors the sense of belonging that is found in gang affiliation. The approach includes a strong tie to each other as brothers, a strong support system, mentoring, and a carefully designed gender-specific curriculum.
- Amistades, Inc. is working to build and strengthen the cultural competence capacity of its network of health providers. The network’s programs address substance abuse and mental health issues for young men, many of whom have experienced trauma or violence at a young age.
- La Plazita Institute engages youth, elders and communities in a comprehensive, holistic and cultural model that draws from family roots and histories to express core traditional values of respect, honor, love, and family. The approach works to reduce violence, addiction, incarceration and recidivism among the most overrepresented youth and adults in detention and those considered high-risk populations, who are disproportionately Latino Men & Boys.
- La Red del Rio Abajo is a collective impact network of eight nonprofits out of Albuquerque’s semi-urban, heavily immigrant, and severely marginalized South Valley. The organizations are working together to design and implement a comprehensive network-level program that would address broad areas of service needs and community engagement for Latino men and boys particularly around preventative and healing work on domestic and violence trauma, education, economic empowerment, and civic engagement.
- Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) is focused on policy in the Albuquerque Public System with the goal of reducing the school-to-prison pipeline. SWOP’s mission is to empower the disenfranchised in the Southwest to realize racial and gender equality, and social and economic justice.
- Youthworks has developed a programmatic model that is designed to positively impact high risk, drop-out youth through teaching practical skills. The goal is to impart social skills; foster leadership development and community engagement; teach positive behavior, communication skills and responsibility through classroom based and hands-on education that leads to improved employment and career trajectories.
The morning of Wednesday, May 20th, day two of the convening, began with a capacity building workshop facilitated by Fenton Communications titled “Message Your Cause.” The session included messaging best practices, and how to tailor messages about Latino Men & Boys for different audiences. The content was rich, engaging and it catered to the specific messaging needs of this particular grantee cohort. The afternoon panel titled “Applied Messaging” complemented the morning session by providing examples of what successful messaging looks like. Moderated by Meredith Fenton of Fenton Communications, panelists Adriann Barboa of Forward Together, Denicia Cadena of Young Women United, and Joseph Sanchez of the University of New Mexico College of Nursing, led the group through a series of experience-based advice and examples that underscored the practical importance of building a culture of storytelling and messaging in your organization.
Day two concluded with thoughts, takeaways, and next steps for the cohort. Despite the harrowing statistics and the uphill battle that all of these organizations face in their work to support Latino Men and Boys in their communities, the tone after two days of conversing, learning, and sharing a beautiful space at the Hotel Andaluz was bright. A richness in knowledge, understanding, and importance in terms of the short and long term impact of this work was pervasive. All thirty-five attendees interacted in a way that demonstrated understanding in terms of the scope and implications of their individual projects, and also showed that they understood each other too. Many of the attendees had never met in person, but after two days, to the average bystander, this fact likely would have seemed unfathomable. Needless to say, a deep-seated connection was established that will only aid in the goal of improving the lives of Latino Men and Boys in the Southwest.