Cultural Corner

 Sociedad Latina's blog about youth, culture, and opportunities in Boston's Latino community


Nellie Mae Education Foundation Awards $110,000 in Funding to Address Rising Tension, Division, and Discrimination Post-Election  

QUINCY, Mass. – March 15, 2017 – The Nellie Mae Education Foundation (Nellie Mae), the largest philanthropic organization in New England focused exclusively on education, is pleased to announce eleven grants totaling $110,000 to organizations helping schools and communities address issues related to deep divisions and the rise in tensions, discrimination, and harassment that have surfaced since the 2016 election season. The grants will be used to fund programming that supports community members and helps to foster unity, healing, and information sharing in New England schools and communities. 

Students must feel safe, included, respected, and heard in their schools and communities to be successful. However, the recent national election was a setback for those in the region working to build stronger communities centered on the interests of all students. This has manifested differently across communities - from students feeling threatened inside and outside of their schools, to students feeling that they or their communities are being unfairly portrayed as racist or poorly-informed. Recognizing this, Nellie Mae created a fund to support the needs of its grantees and partners, including their work to increase understanding of divergent perspectives, promote nurturing school environments through programming and activities, and educate community members about the political system.

“Our public schools are an essential public asset – one that contributes to the preparation of our future civic leaders,” said Nick Donohue, President and CEO of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation. “As stewards of this important public enterprise, we have a duty to provide safe, educational settings where young people from diverse backgrounds can express themselves without fear of hateful reprisals. We are proud to support these local efforts to do this important work across New England.”

While the changing political landscape has amplified new voices and messages, it also presents an opportunity for communities to come together in developing greater insight into the various components of diversity and addressing issues that are directly impacting students and other community members. These opportunities can contribute to creating healthy climates that nurture students’ social and emotional growth. Addressing such concerns in the near term allows schools and communities to avoid creating deeper inequities by facing issues directly, rather than allowing them to become a barrier to students’ future college and career success.

Nellie Mae is pleased to award grants of $10,000 to school districts and organizations across New England, including:


  • Boston International Newcomers Academy (BINcA) – Boston, MA - will extend and enhance activities, such as the Academy’s successful Diversity and Democracy event held on Inauguration Day, with workshops and lessons about cultural identity and democracy in support of BINcA students.
  • Revere Public Schools – Revere, MA - will train and provide support to Revere High’s students and community in understanding the post-election influence on their status as immigrants and citizens. The grant will educate the Revere community and students about the immigration process and help facilitate an open dialogue about its positive influence on the city.
  • Salem Public Schools – Salem, MA - will train the City of Salem's Youth Commissioners and selected youth leaders at Salem High School to facilitate discussions focusing on urgent topics relating to immigrants and their status as members of the community and the country at large and then leverage these conversations to usher broader social change.
  • Sociedad Latina – Boston, MA - will enhance support for the immigration-related needs of Boston's Latino youth and families. The organization aims to promote positive Latino and cultural identities to ensure that its intensive programming – which reaches approximately 1,000 youth ages 11-21 and their families annually through civic engagement, academic support, workforce development, and arts & culture initiatives – is inclusive and welcoming for participants with diverse migration histories and immigration statuses.
  • Write Boston – Boston, MA - will launch “Looking Back & Looking Forward: Writing to Defend Democracy,” a student-led conference that will culminate in a newspaper publication featuring the voices of Boston youth. Write Boston will bring leaders and topical experts together with passionate young people to participate in dialogue about the election and its impact. This dialogue will focus on understanding the facts of immigrant policy, combatting hate crimes, and distinguishing real journalism from ‘fake news.’ 

New Hampshire

  • Granite State Organizing Project (GSOP) – Manchester, NH – will train those involved with GSOP in “active bystander” skills in order to be able to safely intervene in contentious situations through nonviolent and peaceful means. The grant will also support relationship-building between GSOP’s Young Organizers United initiative and youth in Pittsfield, NH to foster shared understanding of social location issues influenced by gender, race, class, age, ability, religion, sexual orientation and geographic location.
  • Pittsfield Youth Workshop – Pittsfield, NH – will support deep relationship building and shared understanding of social location issues between GSOP’s Young Organizers United of Manchester, NH and the Pittsfield Youth Voice in it Together (PYViiT) initiative of Pittsfield Listens. Pittsfield Youth Workshop will also organize a two to three-day Train-the-Trainer workshop on these issues for Pittsfield youth and their adult allies.

Rhode Island

  • Providence Public Schools – Providence, RI - will create a learning series on the federal immigration process, identifying key challenges and questions, and providing third party referral supports, as necessary, for students and their families. The Providence Public School District will also provide opportunities for PPSD students and their families to receive pro-bono legal support from Roger Williams University School of Law on a small group basis.
  • Providence Student Union (PSU) – Providence, RI - will host a youth-focused workshop series on the ramifications of the 2016 Election, directly responding to students' questions and concerns about national politics, and educating them about civics and navigating the new political landscape. This initiative seeks to recruit new youth into PSU’s work, strengthen the organization’s training structure and create tested workshop curricula for free distribution online.


  • Voices for Vermont’s Children – Montpelier, VT – Parents and Youth for Change, an initiative of Voices for Vermont’s Children, will partner with key community organizations to establish youth community forums that explore divergent perspectives and discover common ground. This leadership opportunity would offer young people from economically disadvantaged and immigrant and refugee backgrounds the skills and experience that will serve them well into their futures, creating engaging environments for young people to learn how they can be agents of change.
  • Harwood Union High School – Moretown, VT - will work with the Anti-Defamation League's "A World of Difference" program to increase student understanding of prejudice along with racial, ethnic and cultural differences by: training student leaders in grades 7-12 to work with peers to lead discussions on bias-related issues pertaining to race and diversity; provide professional development anti-bias training for all Harwood personnel; and train students to facilitate an anti-bias workshop for parents and community members in the district.

About the Nellie Mae Education Foundation:

The Nellie Mae Education Foundation is the largest philanthropic organization in New England that focuses exclusively on education. The Foundation supports the promotion and integration of student-centered approaches to learning at the high school level across New England—where learning is personalized; learning is competency-based; learning takes place anytime, anywhere; and students exert ownership over their own learning. To elevate student-centered approaches, the Foundation utilizes a four-part strategy that focuses on: building educator ownership, understanding and capacity; advancing quality and rigor of SCL practices; developing effective systems designs; and building public understanding and demand. Since 1998, the Foundation has distributed over $210 million in grants. For more information about the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, visit



Spotlight on one of Boston’s next young entrepreneurs

Aderito D. is an 11th grade student at Boston International Newcomers Academy (BINcA) and a very enthusiastic participant of our ¡emprende! (launch!) youth entrepreneurship program. Due to his brilliant performance in ¡emprende! activities, he was selected for an internship at Roxbury Innovation Center over February break and shadowed Netia, the Entrepreneurial Resident and Lab Manager.

“I was very excited to learn about 3D printing and new technologies. I had never done it before, but I had seen a lot of videos about printing action figures and I wanted to try it out for myself!,” explained Aderito.  During his internship, Netia made sure Aderito could spend most of his time learning about the things that interested him the most: “He’s been a pleasure to work with. We are so happy to have him,” expressed Netia. Aderito was very grateful for the opportunity and he is sure that this internship will help him achieve his dream of becoming a designer.

Through ¡emprende!, youth build knowledge and skills in STEM, business and entrepreneurship to find success in the classroom, prepare for fulfilling careers and launch innovative business plans.

Special thank you to our ¡emprende! supporters: Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Roxbury Innovation Center, Amelia Peabody Foundation, Paul & Edith Babson Foundation, and the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development.



Moving towards student-centered learning in Boston

Our Youth Community Organizers (YCOs) have been working really hard this year! As the next phase of their “Learn Us to Teach Us” education reform work, they have developed and finalized the platform that will guide their student-centered learning campaign over the next two and half years. In their student-centered learning platform, YCOs are calling for Boston Public Schools (BPS) to:

  • Adopt an individualized learning strategy where every student learns at their own pace and finishes school ready for college or careers
  • Include internship requirement and dual-enrollment opportunities to earn college credit while still in high school
  • Cross-collaborate with community-based organizations so that schools can take advantage of existing resources in their communities and students can earn credit for the activities they participate outside of school

To develop their platform, YCOs have been holding discussions about the design of a student-centered learning-focused school, researching the demographics of students versus staff and administrators in BPS, brainstorming school policies that would better address the needs of Latino and English learner students, identifying opportunities for integrating cultural identity and exploration into the school-day, and creating more opportunities for youth voice in school design, policies and curricula. Their research included looking for resources and other schools that already do this type of work and analyzing the affiliations that currently exist between schools, community-based organizations and universities. Through their participation in the Amplifying Voice and Student Leadership cohort supported by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, they have also visited schools to learn about the process they went through to adopt a student-centered learning approach and how to create incremental changes over time to achieve long-term goals.

To publicize their platform, YCOs have been attending School Committee meetings to testify about their experience in schools that are not student-centered and share their recommendations on how to make improvements that will benefit more students in BPS.


"Sociedad Latina es mi casa”

Ada, one of our Parent Ambassadors, talks about her journey with us

Ada y su familia vinieron de Puerto Rico a Mission Hill a fines de los años 70. Ada tiene 4 hijos y el más pequeño, Joel, es parte de la familia de Sociedad Latina desde que tiene 8 años. Ella no conocía de programas para jóvenes cuando llegó a Boston, pero cuando Joel empezó la escuela en Tobin K-8 School, lo invitamos a formar parte de uno de nuestros programas de verano. Poco a poco, Joel fue involucrándose más en diferentes programas, aprendiendo de bailes y música en nuestras Clases de Arte Comunitarias los sábados, participando en STEAM Team (nuestro programa para alumnos de escuela media) y ahora como Youth Artist tocando la guitarra y el piano.

Cuando Joel era más chico y Ada lo traía desde la escuela hasta Sociedad Latina, la invitamos a participar en nuestro programa Padres Comprometidos con el resto de los padres de los jóvenes. Así, Ada se unió a nuestra familia también. Ella dice que lo que más le gusta son las charlas sobre cómo educar a los hijos, cómo hablar de sexo y de salud con ellos, y cómo quererse a uno mismo y darse su propio tiempo. “Sociedad Latina es mi casa y me gustaría que otros padres puedan sentir la satisfacción que yo siento con este programa, porque no es sólo aprender de cosas relacionadas con tus hijos, sino como puedes ser un padre mejor,” expresó.

Ada asegura que Sociedad Latina ha sido una gran ayuda para Joel y para su familia, especialmente por la cantidad de tiempo que se le dedica a cada joven. “Joel desarrolló muchas habilidades viniendo a Sociedad Latina, y aprendió mucho sobre música y sus propias capacidades. Yo me siento muy orgullosa de él porque sé que él se esfuerza mucho,” concluyó.

Nuestro programa “Padres Comprometidos” busca proveer de herramientas a los padres y tutores de bajos recursos, latinos y/o residentes de Mission Hill/Roxbury para que puedan apoyar el éxito de sus hijos. Entendemos la importancia que las familias juegan en nuestra comunidad latina y en la vida de nuestros jóvenes. Muchos estudios encontraron que los jóvenes con familias involucradas son más capaces de adaptarse, se involucran más en sus comunidades y buscan estudios y carreras que los satisfagan. Padres Comprometidos ofrece talleres, recursos y referencias para mejorar las relaciones entre padres e hijos y construir sobre las fortalezas que las familias ya poseen. Nuestro objetivo a largo plazo es formar familias con capacidad de adaptarse y crear una red de adultos comprometidos para los jóvenes latinos.


The BoSTEM Experience with Sociedad Latina

Our middle school STEAM Team program is proud to partner with Boston Public Schools, Citizen Schools, Boston After School & Beyond and United Way on the BoSTEM initiative. Learn more about our work in this great video!