Thanks to Crossroads Charlotte and writer Rhiannon Bowman for sharing Circle de Luz with their readers.
Bowman’s piece begins…
Rosie Molinary, author of “Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image, and Growing Up Latina,” didn’t mean to start a non-profit organization.
But after the research for her book about growing up within two cultures confirmed her intuitions about the struggles the Latinas face, she couldn’t help herself. “I felt that I couldn’t put my head in the sand on this,” she said.
According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Education and the National Campaign to End Teen Pregnancy, Latino students have the highest dropout rates of all races. A third of the Latinas who dropped out of school cited pregnancy or marriage as their reason.
On book tour, teachers would approach Molinary and say things like, “I wish you could talk to my Latinas.” Others would ask, “What can I do to help?”
A former teacher for Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, Molinary said she knew she wanted to offer mentoring, scholarships and programs for the girls but wasn’t sure how to get started.
So, in March 2008, she gathered her friends and asked for their ideas and support. Many of the women in that first meeting are still on the board of directors for what is now known as Circle de Luz, which means “Circle of Light.”
The organization aims not only to empower girls and encourage their interests, but also to introduce them to people, places, ideas and activities they may not be able to access otherwise.