Encuentros Leadership grew out of a deep concern that high school graduation rates among Latino boys are the lowest when compared to other ethnic groups. Since its beginnings in 2003, Encuentros Leadership has highlighted the importance of education for Latino boys and its connection to rewarding careers and fruitful lives.
An oft-cited report published by the A. Schott Foundation for Public Education, in a scathing criticism of the failure of the education system in educating Latino boys, states that barely half of male Latinos graduate from high school in four years. Additionally, Heidi Brooks, COO of the Shott Foundation, stated, "Instead of a child's success being determined by his talents and abilities, today it is determined by what ZIP code a child attends school in". We've seen across the country that schools with high Latino and Black enrollment "often lack AP (advanced placement) courses, well-trained teachers, up-to-date textbooks, full science labs, and libraries." Add to those deficiencies the lack of access to computers and internet connections.
The recent Coronavirus has fundamentally changed the way education is accomplished. Where once face-to-face (f2f) instruction was the norm, now distance-delivered education has become the new "normal". With few schools in California opening for f2f instruction in the Fall, and many more schools not expected to return to a more traditional teaching environment until August of 2021, we must find creative solutions to very real and immediate problems that affect graduating low-income high school juniors and seniors so that they may complete their high school career, and enter college. Recent reports are replete with accounts of high school students seeking access to the internet by finding 'hot spots' in their local communities. Enterprising students without internet connections are utilizing free services to complete school assignments, drawdown assignments, and to stay in touch with their teachers. This phenomenon is becoming increasingly common in suburban and urban areas of our cities in NC San Diego. Many of our boys, however, live in rural, low-income areas in NC San Diego that have little to no connectivity to the internet, thereby creating unnecessary hardships for them
Where middle- and upper-class children prosper from unlimited access to computers and rich internet connections, most of our boys lack the necessary laptops, or access to wifi connections to utilize these technology tools. Most Encuentros Leadership boys don't have computers at home, or if they do, they must share it with their siblings. Equally as important, most lack reliable internet connectivity or have none, making it increasingly difficult to compete with those who have resources. This proposal addresses only the lack of individual computers. However, if there is internet access, we also seek to pay for a year's worth of access so that our boys might complete their studies within a reasonable time frame. Internet access to all our boys is beyond the scope of this grant.
Our goal is to prepare sour boys to succeed in their College career in spite of the many obstacles they already face. We want to assure you that our boys have the necessary tools to move forward with their education. Thus, we propose to purchase computers for each of our high school juniors and seniors (and pay for internet access for a year if it is accessible to them), with first priority going to the latter. In this manner, we take another significant step forward in guiding Latino boys through their education. This will help us reverse the high drop-out rates by encouraging Latino boys to stay in school, to graduate, and to go on to higher education.
Route 78 Rotarians, and other professionals, model appropriate demeanor through their interactions with these young men. One Rotarian is on the Board of Encuentros Leadership, and others participate as informal mentors. The timeline for the use of these funds is the Academic year 2020-2021.