Mother-Daughter Program

Academic Level
Issue Area
Key Personnel
Program Focus
Parental/Family Engagement


In 1986, Mother-Daughter Program was developed at the University of Texas El Paso, on the U.S.- Mexico border, as a school retention and college recruitment program for middle-school Hispanic girls who are at risk of dropping out of school before high-school graduation. The Mother-Daughter Program organizes activities to help girls and their mothers work together to set goals that will lead to academic and career success for the girls. The Mother-Daughter Program involves Hispanic mothers and daughters in monthly educational career and cultural activities for an entire year, and follows up with workshops and seminars in subsequent years. It also recruits school, community and college student volunteers as role models and mentors. The program considers the most important role model for young girls, especially in the Hispanic community, is found within the family system and connects program resources/activities to the mother-daughter team as one of its founding philosophies.

Program Description

The program organizes activities for the girls and their mothers around four broad goals:

  1. building the girls’ self-esteem, encouraging them to complete their high school educations and raising their expectations of attending college,
  2. orienting the girls to higher education and professional careers,
  3. improving the quality of preparation for higher education by providing academic and life-skills training.

The long-term goal has been to create the possibility of a more equitable representation of Hispanic women in professional careers through higher education.


Longitudinal studies have shown that of the 1,800 mothers and daughters who participated in the program between 1986-1993, fewer girls (than those in the comparison group) dropped out of school or got pregnant than did non-participants from similar backgrounds. Participants were also more likely to enroll in advanced courses, earn higher grades and outscore their peers on state achievement tests. For example, 98 percent of the girls in the first two cohorts – 1986 and 1987 – were still in school in 1992; 62 percent were enrolled in college preparatory courses; and almost 50 percent were enrolled in honors courses.