The Llano Grande Center
in Elsa, Texas, works to open access to higher education for local
students and engages them in community change initiatives to
revitalize their community. Often described by outsiders as high
poverty, this primarily Mexican-American community is claiming the
richness of their heritage and culture to create a better future
for their citizens.
Their students attend the most prestigious universities in the
country including: Yale, Harvard, Brown, Columbia, Tufts, MIT,
How do they prepare their students?
They help students prepare for the
social, political and academic rigors of higher education by
cultivating community-minded leaders. One key approach is teaching
students to collect and archive oral histories [digital stories]
from community members. As elders are invited into classrooms to
share their life histories, students and teachers learn about the
rich, untold history of the community and develop a greater sense
Students then go with staff on group trips to colleges and meetings
with admissions officers. This process challenges teachers,
students and parents to raise their own expectations.
Creating Collective leadership capacity for community change. As
students engage community members in the learning process, they
cultivate collective leadership capacity of adults and youth to
work together for the success of the schools. Community members who
share their stories develop closer connections and interest in the
schools. These community partnerships support student initiatives
in the community. For instance, students lead community education
programs to inform the public about school bond issues leading to
passing multi-million dollar bonds to support school construction.
[link to Bridge article].