By Christina Collazo, Founder & Executive Director, Todos Juntos Learning Center
About Todos Juntos Learning Center: Todos Juntos supports the academic and social well-being of immigrant and refugee families through education, empowerment and community support. We are a dual-generation learning center working with parents and children from the same family at the same time through education and community connection.
How have you used the Moody Foundation grant?
With the support of the Moody Foundation, we were able to support families with emergency support related to the impacts of COVID-19 and/or Winter Storm Uri. This assistance was used for lost wages, medical needs, culturally-relevant food support, home repairs, or utility and rental assistance. The Moody Foundation’s support also helped us continue our Early Childhood Education program virtually, providing all enrolled students access to professionally facilitated music classes, developmentally appropriate learning kits, and safe, outdoor family learning opportunities.
How did your organization pivot during the pandemic and has the impact of your organization changed due to those efforts?
Like many local non-profits, Todos Juntos also had to reimagine how to deliver our dual-generation model during the pandemic to ensure we could serve our families safely but impactfully. The programs created were informed by our families and included an emergency financial assistance program that connected families with nearly $400,000 in direct cash assistance during the last two years. COVID-19 and Winter Storm Uri program modifications also included food access, PPE, technology, virtual classes, developmentally appropriate learning kits for each child and materials for each parent. We also took on a role as COVID-19 information connectors by creating platicas (talks) with local pediatricians, offering onsite vaccine clinics and tests, developing Parent Vaccine Ambassadors to help spread fact-based information, and culturally relevant vaccine PSAs in four different languages in partnership with our students and trusted partners. Our goal was not to only pivot and provide virtual programming or quick vaccine-related work but also ensure we were creating access and not barriers.
How many people does your organization help every year? How many people volunteer at your organization every year?
Todos Juntos Learning Center serves the Central Texas English language learning immigrant and refugee community. All of our families came to Central Texas seeking educational and financial opportunity with the goal of ending the cycle of poverty. Through dual-generation education, Todos Juntos builds a respectful community and social capital so that immigrant and refugee families may realize their own success. Families live in six Central Texas counties and 26 zip codes. Currently, Todos Juntos families have 9 different countries of origin and are primarily Latino with about 2% Burmese. All qualified families are welcome and supported through a caring community and hired professional translators or personal connections such as their pastors.
The Todos Juntos model is an intensive program that serves each student/family four days per week, and on average for two years. Each year we directly serve 100-120 adults, and 60 children. During the pandemic, we saw a slight decrease in these numbers for adults, while maintaining our numbers for children. We found that online classes could present challenges to our adult students who had multiple children at home also learning virtually, who they supported in their own navigation of online schooling, while many parents themselves having limited digital literacy.
Todos Juntos also serves local volunteers and organizations that seek to support the Central Texas immigrant community. Our 100+ volunteers play a tremendous and vital role in making our school operate—from our board who donates and engages in fundraising—to volunteers who read with children each week or provide English tutoring to adults, and volunteer groups that improve our facilities. In 2020-21, more than 500 volunteer hours were donated with a value of $15,500. Volunteers regularly report that they greatly value and benefit from their relationships with our students.
Todos Juntos depends on collaborative community and volunteer partnerships to help fulfill our mission. When we strategically align our resources we can do more. We currently have both individual volunteers, as well as groups of volunteers, supporting each of our four core programs, as well as our administrative and developmental efforts. We have a volunteer opportunity for all skills, ages, and interests here at Todos Juntos. Some volunteers serve in our Early Childhood Education classes each week, some as virtual English buddies for our adult learners, while others serve in roles essential to our daily operations due to increased work directly-related to COVID-precautions and changes.
Where can the community go to find more information on how to volunteer, donate to your organization and/or a schedule of upcoming events?