One in five women in the United States is a Latina and, in Charlotte, Latinas are the fastest growing segment of our student population.
Yet, daunted by poverty and lack of access, one in five Latinas does not complete high school and just 19% of Latina women have a college degree. The gravity of these statistics is amplified when factoring in that by 2060, one-third of the female population will be Latina.
Imagine how the landscape of our towns and cities will change if such a large segment of the population is undereducated? The fact is that educational empowerment profoundly impacts public health and economic development. In fact, the current reality does not match the future that Latinas envision for themselves. In Listening to Latinas: Barriers to High School Graduation, a study by the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, 98% of Latina students surveyed shared that they want to graduate from high school and 80% of students surveyed would like to graduate from college. The desire is there, the work ethic is there, yet the support and resources are not there. Within the state of North Carolina only one cent of every dollar distributed by foundations goes to support Latino-serving organizations.
Circle de Luz was founded in 2008 with a groundbreaking approach to the issue of the high drop-out rate of Latina girls. At the time, and still today, Latinas have the highest drop-out rate of any ethnic group in the country. Circle de Luz does its work by selecting a small cohort group of Latinas in seventh grade whom we then follow until high school graduation. During the six years of the program, we offer our members extensive mentoring and holistic programming that supports their personal growth, academic readiness, and community engagement. In addition, we guarantee each girl a minimum of a $5,000 scholarship when she graduates from high school and pursues further education.
Circle de Luz uses a powerful dual-prong model as a traditional non-profit and a giving circle. As a non-profit, we provide impactful programs and meaningful relationships that make a difference today for our members and their families. With our giving circles, individuals from all backgrounds and anywhere in the world can invest in the future by funding the scholarships we provide. While some programs offer short-term solutions and others support the brightest under-resourced stars, we offer a comprehensive, creative solution for a neglected population of our youth. We know their potential and we encourage them to see it too.