Student Training in Advocacy & Responsibility – STAR
H.A.C.A.N.’s Student Training in Advocacy & Responsibility (STAR) program is a leadership and advocacy training program for adolescent youth in the community. Our goals are to educate students from Hispanic backgrounds to become knowledgeable about key legislative issues relevant to the Hispanic community, cultural values, and leadership development. STAR uses a bi-weekly leadership curriculum that motivates Latino/Hispanic high school students to engage in their communities. The workshops focus on developing key leadership skills, such as building confidence, public speaking, knowledge of local political systems and current laws, active problem solving, and team work. The Star Program exposes students to local causes and opportunities for activism through field trips, one-on-one discussions with local professionals and community leaders, and community service activities. The Star Program is designed to service 25 students throughout one academic year.
Through the training sessions, speakers, and field trips, STAR addresses the causes of poverty by equipping these youths with public speaking, issues writing, advocacy skills, and leadership skills to become their own agents of social change. In the past years there have been a number of relevant issues impacting immigrant youth and their families that have been leveraged as platforms for their engagement in legislative advocacy in Richmond – such as closing the digital divide in VA public schools HB1915 and HB2286. Rather than be passive bystanders of the local legislative process, by learning the process and experiencing the impact of their involvement first hand, they have strengthened their engagement in policy analysis, found their voice, and spoken out on behalf of important local issues. To date all of the STAR seniors have completed HS and have either gone on to college or pursued local employment – a critical outcome to breaking the cycle of poverty.
Since its inception, in March 2008, the program has been funded by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). During the past six years over 80 students have benefited from our program. Of the students that remained with STAR throughout their four years in high school, all have graduated and gone onto college. Approximately 60% of the participants are female and 40% male. The average age of participants is between 14 and 18 years old.
At least 85% of the STAR graduates have increased their leadership skills, have taken a greater interest in their own education and have become more interested in helping their community. As we teach each child their worth and potential, we have broken the cycle within that child’s family.