Celebrating a year of incredible growth, the Latino Tech Mentorship Program showcased the work of mentors and mentees this month with a special graduation event. The program, a component of the Parent Partner Program, pairs Padres Líderes (parent leaders) with Spanish-speaking volunteers to ensure they find confidence in using technology as a tool for education for their families, and a skill for themselves professionally.
Gathered in the Mission District, parent leaders and their mentors were joined by a very special guest, Ali Guarneros, NASA Engineer and Deputy Project Manager at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. Sharing her own story of immigrating to the United States as a young child and a very non-traditional path to a degree – including supporting her mother and siblings, having four children of her own, and then starting community college before transferring to San Jose State University – Guarneros spoke of a drive to find a career in STEM and follow her passion for aerospace engineering that she wouldn’t have found without supportive teachers.
With her inspiring story in mind, several parent leaders stepped up to the stage to present their learnings from the year. Many former mentees become mentors this year as well- passing on their new-found skills to other parents in their community.
None of the accomplishments celebrated this year would have been possible without a really extraordinary volunteer, Maria Paz Zuniga. Over the past four years, she has helped the Parent Partner Program design ESL curriculum, evaluate programming, and create connections to the larger Hispanic community in San Francisco.
Working alongside our lead Promotora Nohemi Romero, Paz worked this year to recruit Spanish-speaking volunteers to support our parents, create a portal of resources for mentors and mentees to achieve their technology goals, and evaluate the impact of this unique individualized program.
The success of this year’s graduation is entirely due to her passion and dedication to connecting Latinas to technology.
Gonzalo + Lily
Lily is an active mom with a very active family. Coaching her two sons’ Viking Soccer teams, she was looking for help keeping track of all of the logistics. Every week Gonzalo, who works in tech and was looking for a way to connect with the Latino community where now lives, meets with Lily to find tools to help her get organized.
Together, they took a folded piece of notebook paper with players’ names, phone numbers, practice and snack schedules, and turned it into a google sheet that would allow Lily to access the important information from her phone no matter where she was.
Lily is excited to help more parent son her team feel comfortable using their phones to access the google suite and keep track of all of the details together.
Norma + Maria Cristina
Norma, one of the lead parent leaders, plays so many roles for Mission Graduates. As a mentee, she has been developing her Salesforce skills, and enters all participation in to the agency database in the evenings. But as a mentor, she really shines.
Norma began meeting Maria Cristina at the San Francisco Public Library every other week to help Maria Christina feel more comfortable using the resources to help her children succeed in school. Because Maria Cristina had limited access to schools in her home country, her literacy levels in Spanish are low enough that she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to help her own children with their school work.
After opening up her first library card, Norma connected her to a audio book resource called Hoopla, and together they found books that her son would want to read that they could listen to at the same time. Maria Cristina now feels confident enough to go to her local branch of the library in the Bayview District and read with her children.
Veronica + Efrain
Veronica built a special relationship with her mentor Efrain this year. Because Efrain works for Mission Economic Development Agency, he knew he could share valuable information with Vero about the below-market rental program here in San Francisco. Working together on navigating the often complicated online application system, Vero was able to register her family to be eligible for the city’s sustainable housing program.
MEDA now counts Vero as one of their Promotoras as well – and is excited to continue offering her the confidence-building support she needs to begin offering housing workshops with other parents at her sons’ schools.
Interested in supporting next year’s cohort of Latina Tech Mentees? Visit our volunteer page to learn more!