Con Mi MADRE’s success is based on providing bilingual services to keep 6th through 12th grade Hispanic girls in school and on track to achieve academic success by focusing on college and gaining the skills necessary to get there, all while strengthening the family relationship by involving their mothers in these goals. Con Mi MADRE means “with my mother” and reflects the unique element of mandatory participation of the mother or other role model playing an active part in the student’s life.
Con Mi MADRE focuses on three goal areas: Post High School Readiness, Post-Secondary Enrollment and Post-Secondary Success. Services for parents work to create family cultures valuing education, embracing college as an achievable dream for their daughters, and supporting parents in raising ambitious young women with a strong connection to family. Con Mi MADRE’s programs are:
Activities designed for middle school girls in order to help them maintain academic success, build self-esteem, and encourage the dream of higher education. Because research indicates that a strong support system improves the child’s success, Con Mi MADRE seeks to strengthen the parent-child bond and to begin influencing girls and their parents early. Early intervention allows Con Mi MADRE to help families understand the benefits of college and helps them to set goals and make real changes to support their daughter’s education.
Activities include: Campus Meetings, Fall/Spring Conferences for Mothers and Daughters, Summer Leadership Conference and programming activities through the Healthy Living Program.
Once girls enter high school, the focus shifts to preparing girls to apply for and enter college. Activities for high school girls focus on the college process and provide direction on becoming a competitive college applicant; being prepared academically for college; selecting the right college and the application process; and the pursuit of critical scholarships.
Activities include: Campus Meetings, Fall/Spring Mother and Daughter Conferences, Leadership Conferences, College Exploration, College Academies, Senior Mentoring and College Prep Assistance
Because strong connections between home, school, and community effectively reduce barriers to student achievement, Con Mi MADRE programming includes a large parental involvement component.
Activities include Fall/Spring Mother and Daughter Conferences, Parent Engagement Series and Service Learning opportunities.
Countless research indicates that solely addressing academic issues will not keep girls in school and on a college-bound path. Teen pregnancy, mental health issues and obesity have all been proven to negatively affect academic achievement, The Healthy Living Program is an integrated approach to addressing physical and behavioral health barriers that limit academic achievement and pursuit of higher education. The program addresses teen pregnancy prevention, self-esteem, nutrition and fitness, mental health, substance abuse, and domestic violence. Con Mi MADRE weaves this concept throughout all activities including Mother-Daughter Conferences, Campus Meetings, the Summer Leadership Conference, and the Parent/Family Engagement Series.
Activities include individual and family counseling, running and walking groups, nutrition classes, sessions at Fall/Spring Mother and Daughter Conferences, and Healthy Living Summer Camp.
Con Mi MADRE helps girls to be successful once they are in college as well. Through our Girls Reaching A Dream (G.R.A.D.) program, staff offers post-high school support to college-bound Con Mi MADRE graduates.
Activities include Con Mi MADRE’s Alumni Network (Hermanas Unidas) and college persistence programming.
Program activities details:
Fall/Spring Workshops for Mothers and Daughters
Con Mi MADRE conferences are held on Saturdays at either The University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work or another school campus. Two conferences are in the fall and four in the spring semester, and are 3 hours in length. Topics center on different issues facing middle school and high school students (i.e. self-esteem, peer pressure, goal setting, college preparation, financial aid).
School-Based Campus Meetings
In collaboration with the School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin and the School of Behavioral and Social Sciences at St. Edward’s University, Con Mi MADRE conducts psychosocial educational groups on a bi-weekly basis at all target schools using approved curriculum. These meetings are held during the school day at each campus and last about 45 minutes. Meeting topics correlate with conference topics or address issues identified through participant assessments. Academic advising is also provided at this meetings.
Individual and Family Case Management Services
Case management and counseling services are provided for girls who are facing academic or personal challenges that are affecting their ability to learn. This service is provided by qualified Con Mi MADRE staff and graduate-level social work interns.
Parent/Family Engagement Evening Series
Con Mi MADRE is based upon the premise that a student’s education is enhanced by parental involvement. Strong connections between home, school, and community effectively reduce barriers to student achievement. During the summer, parent participants attend workshops on topics related to education and parent engagement. These sessions also provide opportunities for parents within the program to connect and interact.
Con Mi MADRE pairs senior students with an adult to help them through the college application process. Volunteers are matched by staff with an incoming senior and helps the girls make decisions about college, fill out the college application, and financial support applications. Mentors work with families throughout the high school senior year.
College exploration visits help program participants transition from their neighborhood high schools to the colleges of their dreams. In the summer and fall, the program takes a group of active girls and moms to colleges in different parts of the state.
Incoming 12th graders meet over the summer research colleges, work on college essays and learn about the college application process. Once the school year begins, the group continues to meet throughout the school year to check in with staff, ask questions and to celebrate successes.
Leadership Training Conference
Con Mi MADRE offers active participants the chance to build leadership skills through a special conference. This chaperoned activity is held on the UT-Austin campus, with students spending 2 days and 1 night at Jester dormitory. Participation in the leadership conference is for students that are in good standing with the program and is by special invitation only.
Healthy Living Running/Walking Club
The Running/Walking Club engages program participants in physical exercise. This program will promote health, well-being, and good eating habits. Participants release stress, facilitating their ability to concentrate on school work. The Healthy Living Program exposes mothers and daughters to the importance of exercise. Con Mi MADRE measures the participants’ BMI during this program activity series to motivate participants.
Obesity and poor health affect many Hispanics. Research at The University of Texas (Robert Crosnoe 2007) showed that although obesity is a health condition, its consequences extend far beyond the realm of health. Obese girls were less likely to enter college after high school than were their non-obese peers, especially when they attended schools in which obesity was relatively uncommon. Con Mi MADRE partners with local non-profits such as The Capital Area Food Bank and Sustainable Food Center to teach both the mothers and the daughters how to eat healthier. Students learn how to read labels, prepare healthy ethnic food and improve their food choices. Activities are held year-round through campus meetings, summer camp, and other special events.
Service Learning Opportunities
Con Mi MADRE strives to instill the importance of community service by requiring all program participants to complete service learning hours. Each year, middle school mother-daughter teams must complete 15 hours of service and high school mother- daughter teams must complete 20 hours of service to remain eligible for the program. Con Mi MADRE’s office assists teams in finding volunteer opportunities.
College Prep Financial Assistance
Benefits of participating in the program extend beyond the growth and development that occurs through campus meetings and conferences. Active participants in Con Mi MADRE can receive financial assistance during their junior and senior years of high school to cover SAT/ACT testing fees and college application fees. As a final incentive for participating in Con Mi MADRE, seniors who have been active in the program since their induction are eligible for a scholarship. Each year, graduating seniors receive thousands of dollars in scholarships.