Latinx Leadership Initiative

Latinx Leadership Initiative Boston College
Academic Level
Issue Area
Academic Program
Program Focus


The Latinx Leadership Initiative (LLI) trains and supports bilingual Social Work Masters and PhD students to work with Latino individuals, families, and communities in the U.S. Its goals are to foster students’ understanding of the complexities Latino populations face when accessing social services and in dealing with providers of care. Core courses are taught in Spanish, a key cultural marker. The Initiative also offers mentorship with regards to community engagement and research, while drawing on the “cultural way of knowing” of diverse Latino communities. This approach serves to equip students with the tools they need to succeed professionally while forming an on-campus community that supports their academic success.

Program Description

Latinos are more likely than other groups in the U.S. to experience low educational attainment and discrimination. These experiences place Latinos at higher risk of marginalization and at higher need for social work services. However, most social workers in the U.S. recognize that they are not prepared to work effectively with Latino populations, and less than 5% of licensed social workers nationally identify as Latino. 

To respond to this paucity of social workers who are prepared to work effectively with Latino populations, we launched in 2013 the Latinx Leadership Initiative (LLI). The LLI is a model of graduate education for the next generation of social service leaders that shifts from a traditional deficit approach to minority education to focus instead on the knowledge, skills, and cultural values that Latinos bring to the educational setting. To this end, LLI students take courses in Spanish and follow a curriculum designed around effective social work interventions with diverse Latino communities. Additionally, students complete field internships that foster their understanding of the complexities faced by Latino clients in interacting with social services agencies and in dealing with providers of care. Finally, each LLI student is paired with a faculty mentor and a field advisor that guide them on how successfully navigate traditional institutions of higher education and professional social work settings.


  • 100% retention and graduation: Four LLI cohorts, a total of 117 students, have graduated since the program’s inception in 2013. Thanks to the assets-based cohort model of support, LLI has no student attrition and all LLI students graduate in a timely manner.
  • 100% career placement: Of students served, 100% of graduates have secured full-time positions in competitive social service agencies. Graduates are trained and have a full understanding of the complexities of diverse Latinx communities, with many reaching leadership positions in their career within 3 years of graduation.