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Academic achievement is best understood not as an individual attribute but as a collective process; and, specifically, one that issues from non-rationalistic, emotional commitments among individuals who are embedded in supportive networks.
- Angela Valenzuela, 1999

Nationwide ENLACE - Background
ENLACE is a W. K. Kellogg Foundation program initiative devoted to increasing opportunities for Latinos to enter and complete college through sustainable partnerships among higher education institutions, K-12 schools, and local communities. Central to ENLACE is the belief that increasing the number of Latinos who earn the baccalaureate will benefit not only that community, but the entire society. Commitment to the educational success of Latino children and youth is an investment in our nation's future.

Planning Grant: 2000
In 2000, the Kellogg foundation funded 18 ENLACE planning grants nationally. Each of the grant recipients created a partnership in its region of service to address, collectively, the high dropout and low graduation rates of Latino students. Metro Phoenix ENLACE was one of the 18 grantees selected to engage in a planning process. A partnership among school districts, institutions of higher education, community-based organizations, and local businesses was launched to plan a coordinated response for removing educational barriers for Latino students who would attend Arizona State University.

Metro Phoenix ENLACE: Our Approach
In late 2000, an implementation proposal was submitted to the Kellogg Foundation, outlining the plans and priorities for a four-year implementation phase based on the plan developed during the planning phase. Metro Phoenix ENLACE proposed to create new and innovative models for serving Latino youth. In brief, the plan calls for collaborative efforts among local ENLACE partners to focus not on individual achievement, gain, and measurements, but on the concept of communal work, engagement of all available resources, group achievement, and service to the communities of origin. ENLACE students can choose from a portfolio of activities that will help them and their parents plan and prepare for college. They will work in groups rather than as individuals, and they will increase their commitment to serving the communities from which they came.

Metro Phoenix ENLACE: Philosophy
We believe that rigorous academic preparation is not enough. Non-traditional college bound students must be immersed in a dynamic matrix of resources, services, support, models, and caring attention. Only in this way will significant numbers of them become successful students who will aspire to attend the University. ENLACE aims to build an alternative to the prevalent culture that stresses individual achievement in schools, and one in which students are tested, graded, sorted, exhorted, and ranked. Instead, we nurture a "Culture of Community Engagement and Cohort Support," which is rooted in family and community and taps all of the important players in a young person's life: students, parents, school people, community leaders, successful Latino leaders, etc. This perspective avoids the deficit orientation in which student failure is emphasized and remediation is the inevitable "cure" for differences in cultural background. We do not focus on pathologies and deficits; rather, we view the student as part of a rich matrix of caring families and communities that encourage young people to aspire and achieve as part of a group, the ENLACE family. Because no single partner in a child's life can make this happen alone, we will mobilize as many resources as possible to envelop enlacistas in a rich and thick mix of care, services, and opportunities.

The Metro Phoenix ENLACE Partnership
The ENLACE partnership is based on the organization of community networks of trust, resources, guidance, and support to attain goals that cannot be reached by a single partner working alone. The objective is to harmonize and synchronize existing programs, and new programs provided by partners, and to optimize synergy. Through this active matrix of support, we seek to create a seamless and minimally bureaucratic environment. By working together, partners add value to existing resources and services across the educational pipeline and they, too, are able to pay back the community in which they work and conduct business.

Metro Phoenix ENLACE 5-Year Goals:
  • Increase by 50% (over 5 years) the number of Latinos - from partnership institutions - who earn baccalaureate degrees at ASU.
  • Involve diverse sectors of the Phoenix metro community and institutions in the work of ENLACE.
  • Identify policy obstacles that can be reduced or eliminated through policy changes at various levels.
  • Create sustainable collaborations among ENLACE partners and the sectors they represent.
  • Leverage new funds to continue the work begun during the initial partnership grant.
  • Conduct and disseminate research related to selected policy aspects of ENLACE and related topics.
Implementation Grant: 2001-2004
In February 2001, the Kellogg Foundation chose to fund Metro Phoenix ENLACE for a period of four years. Over this period of time we hope to strengthen our partnership and instill in students a positive view of themselves, as well as a sense of higher possibilities for educational attainment. We will help young people develop viable, achievable plans for an exciting and productive future. The ENLACE partners will work with students and parents to ensure a successful journey through the baccalaureate level and beyond.

While still in high school, enlacista students join Grupo Alfa, which was conceptualized and planned during a series of meetings with school counselors and ASU staff and professors. Grupo Alfa students participate in structured academic and college preparation activities offered by ASU, school districts, and ENLACE personnel. Each Grupo Alfa student will have several adults who will serve as mentors and caretakers on this college-bound path. (We call them padrinos and madrinas.) In middle school, corporate partners SRP and Coca-Cola sponsor a cross-age tutoring program. This program places junior high and high school students who are considered to be "at risk" of dropping out in positions of academic responsibility by allowing them to tutor elementary school youngsters and assume responsibility for their success. When these students enter high school, they will form the nucleus of the next Grupo Alfa cohort.

At the college level ENLACE partners link up programs at community colleges with those at ASU in order to make sure students successfully transfer from one institution to the next and graduate with a baccalaureate degree. Partners in the non-profit sector will be involved in community outreach activities, in which parents and families are engaged in their children's education, and leadership capacity is developed among youth. We will stress careers in serving professions, such as teaching, nursing, social work, and criminal justice. In the College of Education, a concerted effort will be made to increase dramatically the number of Latino young people who enter teaching.

This how we begin; but this is only a beginning. In four years we expect ENLACE to be bigger, stronger, and more effective in increasing the number of new Latino students who come to ASU.

Enlace is funded in part by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
2001 Arizona State University

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