Latinx Leadership Initiative

Latinx Leadership Initiative Boston College
Institution
State
Massachusetts
Academic Level
Graduate
Issue Area
Academic Program
Key Personnel
Program Focus
Career/Workforce,
Pathway/Pipeline

Overview

The Latinx Leadership Initiative 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 Latinx Leadership 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

Launched in 2013 to meet the need of the Latinx population,  experiencing low educational attainment and discrimination, placing Latinos at a higher risk of marginalization and a need for social work services. The Latinx Leadership Initiative recognized social workers were not prepared to work effectively with the Latino population and that Latinos made up less than 5% of licensed social workers nationally.

The Latinx Leadership Initiative 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 on the knowledge, skills, and cultural values that Latinos bring to the educational setting. Latinx Leadership Initiative 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. Lastly, students are paired with a faculty mentor and a field advisor that guides them on how to successfully navigate traditional institutions of higher education and professional social work settings.

Outcome

The Latinx Leadership Initiative intentionally recruits Latinx students and most of their students identify as Latinx:

  • 100% retention and graduation: Four Latinx Leadership Initiative cohorts, a total of 130 students, have graduated since the program’s inception in 2013. Thanks to the assets-based cohort model of support, they have had no student attrition and all 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 careers within 3 years of graduation.