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.
In 2008, HACAN once again expanded their outreach program to include adolescents in the secondary grades and initiated STAR – Student Training in Advocacy and Responsibility. STAR is a leadership and advocacy-training program focused on educating students from the Latino/Hispanic background to become knowledgeable on key legislative issues relevant to Hispanic communities, cultural values and leadership development. Since inception, over 80 students have enrolled in the program (60% female, 40% male) and all active Seniors, to date, have graduated and have enrolled in higher education. At least 85% of the STAR graduates have increased their leadership skills, have taken a greater interest in their own education and have become interested in helping their community.
15-20 students from J.E.B. Stuart High School meet twice a month with HACAN member and school sponsor to discuss issues related to student advocacy and responsibility. Three programs include:
1) Ready to Lead:Sponsored by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, students spend a day interacting with elected officials and community leaders;
2) Immigrant Advocacy Day:Students spend a day at the Richmond General Assembly, sponsored by the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations;
3) Young Leaders Program:Developed by Tony Silard, Director of The Center for Social Development, students participate in one week of lectures at George Washington University in June.
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 able to influence the breaking of the poverty cycle by providing experiences that invoke the desire to learn and seek higher education.
Key success criteria factors:
• Measure high school graduation rate
• Measuring success rate for post-secondary school enrollment (University, College, Vocational/Technical school)
• Measure National Honor Society membership participation?
• Track # of students who participated in STAR events (i.e. Young Leaders program, Immigrant Advocacy Day, workshops, community services events)