Each fall, many high school graduates go on to college to fulfill their dreams. For South Tama County (STC) Middle School Latina girls, they are just starting to realize their dreams of going to college can become a reality. The Tama County Community Foundation (TCCF) awarded a $792 grant to help the South Tama Chapter of Latinas Al Exito in their activities.
Sue Bugge, a member of Tama-Toledo AAUW and the STC Middle School counselor, wrote and received a TTCF Grant for $792 dollars for Latinas Al Exito through AAUW. The grant is used to buy t-shirts for the girls and purchase food for their annual celebration with the families in May. "The girls wear the t-shirts with pride. Their names are on the back," said Bugge.
Once a month, Bugge, along with three Madrinas, or God Mothers, Becky Giesler, Jamie Becker and Laura Galvez, meet with the girls after school. They participate in a variety of activities such as sharing Christmas traditions. However, the most important activity is researching colleges and creating their "Dream Boards," a concrete visualization of their college dream and how to get there. According to Bugge, "Latina girls are starting to realize that they can have a career, that college and postsecondary education is a serious reality for them. They can really do it, and their dreams can come true."
Jamie Becker, South Tama Middle School EEl/Spanish teacher with Mary Fasse-Shaw, Tama County Community?Foundation Development associate.
The South Tama County School District provides a site-coordinator, meeting place, some writing materials and busses to take the girls on college visits.
In addition to Bugge, Giesler, Becker and Galvez, bilingual and multiethnic women volunteers from Grinnell College come to monthly meetings to work with the girls. Also, Drake University professor, Carol Spaulding, who has written a book of stories about young Latina women, volunteers her time. Two of South Tama's Latinas, now freshmen in high school, have their stories in Spaulding's book, which will be given to Latinas Al Exito as a fundraiser.
Latinas Al Exito began when, Jan Mitchell and Pam Swarts of Marshalltown, realized the need to help young Latina girls, who were facing a variety of obstacles leading to higher dropout rates. Mitchell and Swarts, through their local AAUW, started Latinas Al Exito at the middle school level to help these girls graduate from high school and go on to postsecondary education.
Latinas Al Exito will soon become Al Exito. Young men will also receive support to further its mission of being committed to motivate and prepare middle school Latinos/Latinas for post-high school education and the potential for economic security, civic engagement, and a stable family life.
The TCCF has been created by and for the people of Tama County. The Foundation's main goals are to support charitable projects and programs, to attract additional funds, and to assist donors in creating lasting legacies through a variety of giving options within the county. For more information about the TCCF, contact Brian Sokol, Chair of the Tama County Community Foundation, 641-484-2980, or Mary Fasse-Shaw, TCCF's Development Associate at 641-751-5251.