As submitted to the Boston Globe Editorial Team
FII-Family Partners, Julia Mejia (Determined Divas & CPLAN Founder) , Ivelisse Caraballo (CPLAN Leader), & Else Flores (CPLAN Leader)
As Latinx leaders in our community we feel it is critical to highlight the ingenuity and innovation that is occuring in our neighborhoods which was missing in the recent Globe articles about the systemic barriers that Latinx families in Massachusetts face. While we may be invisible to some, we want to make it clear, that we are not silent and we are taking action to improve our communities.
The Latinx community comes from different parts of Latin American and the Caribbean, bringing with them strong family and community values. The Latinx community in Massachusetts is no exception.
We have seen Latinx families organize more than 300 people for potlucks in East Boston, pool capital through lending circles, and offer workshops for families to develop their English language skills and seek collective economic mobility. The Determined Divas taps into this social capital translating it into political capital in the Latinx community through various community-based civic events and voter registration drives. Latinx parents amplify their voices in the Collaborative Parent Leadership Action Network (CPLAN) to ensure every child regardless of race, socioeconomic, or immigration status has access to a high quality and culturally responsive educational experience.
The Family Independence Initiative (FII), a radical approach to the traditional deficit based social sector is uncovering the real activity of families in our communities and we are proud FII family partners. Thirty three percent of the over 1,000 FII family partners in Boston & Cambridge are Latinx. On average, during two years of engagement with FII, Boston & Cambridge family report an increase of over $1,000 in monthly savings, a 10% increase in monthly income, a 82% decrease in reliance on subsidies, and an estimated exchange of more than $1.8M in social capital.
The data speaks for itself – we are not silent. Families are lifting themselves and their communities out of poverty despite the stereotypes that bely the assumptions about what families need. By fostering connections, trusting, and investing in families, Latinx families are demonstrating that a different approach is possible and effective. It is time we start highlighting the strengths of our communities, as well.