A mentorship program for Cleveland Latino youth is using new grant funding to continue its work improving graduation rates.The program helps more than 200 students from three area high schools.
Esperanza—a non-profit educational support program—will use a $20,000 grant from State Farm to fund its Hispanic Youth Leadership Program.
Victor Ruiz, Esperanza’s executive director, reports a graduation rate of 97 percent for kids involved in the organization’s programs. He says the ‘secret’ is in the relationships.
“Curricula alone does not change a life. It’s the people who are implementing it and delivering it and the support system. And I really think that’s what makes our organization unique," Ruiz says.
Joseph LaTorre—a 17-year-old senior at Lincoln West High School—credits his mentor with getting him on a better path toward graduation.
“I want to be a mentor here when I finish school because I feel that the help I got here I can pass it on to another student or another kid in my community who won’t have the type of support that they need to succeed," LaTorre says.
Graduation rates among Latinos in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District have more than doubled since 2011 –from 30 to 64 percent.