Spotlight Nonprofit: Latina teens get a new ‘circle’ of friends who help make their college dreams a reality

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LatinaLista — While more Latinas are going to college and getting their degrees, it’s also true that young Latinas are still the largest group who are getting pregnant in high school, not finishing their education and perpetuating a cycle of poverty and low-wage jobs in their communities.

In North Carolina, young Latinas, starting in the seventh grade, have the opportunity to change this type of destiny with the help of a nonprofit called Circle de Luz.

Not content to just be a mentoring organization or an extra-curricular activity, the founders of Circle de Luz describe what they do as “radically empowering” young Latinas. This includes an extensive mentoring program with mentor-advocates known as “Mijas,” introducing the girls to empowering activities ranging from the arts to team building exercises and supplying a financial resource to fund their college dreams.

Circle de Luz was founded in 2008 after its founder, Rosie Molinary, author of Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image, and Growing Up Latina, found herself repeatedly fielding questions on a book tour from concerned readers who wanted to know how they could help young Latinas.

The organization believes the young girls advance better when they know someone is taking a personal interest in how they do in school. The Mija giving circle attempts to fill that void with the Circle de Luz girls by having Mijas commit to a class of girls and donating a minimum of $100 for each of the six years (7-12 grades) that their class of girls is in the program.

Their donations are then used to award each program graduate with a $5,000 college scholarship.

For every girl in the program, 10 Mijas are needed to make her college dreams come true.

According to the Circle de Luz organizers:

We need at least 50 mijas to provide this life changing opportunity to at least 5 new hijas. Mijas can have any background and can live anywhere. Will you consider joining this powerful group of women making a difference?

You do not need to make your donation for the 2013-2014 school year at this time. To join the circle, please complete this Letter of Commitment.

Girls with long-term plans or educational aspirations have more hope for the future, are less likely to get pregnant, and become more engaged in school and related activities—all factors making it more likely that they will graduate from high school and make it to college.

Research has shown that a relationship with a caring adult helps students stay in school and graduate.

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