Cleveland Educational Non-Profit Uses Grant Funds to Improve Latino Graduation Rates

Students at Esperanza sit for a SAT/ACT Prep Course.

A mentorship program that supports more than 200 students in Cleveland just got an infusion of funding to continue its work at three area high schools.

Esperanza—a non-profit educational support program—will use a $20 thousand dollar grant from State Farm to fund their Hispanic Youth Leadership Program.

Victor Ruiz, Esperanza’s Executive Director, reports a graduation rate of 97 percent for kids involved in the organization’s programs. Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s rate is 69.1 percent. He says the ‘secret’ is in the relationships.

“Curricula alone does not change a life. It’s the people who are implementing it and delivering it and the support system. And I really think that’s what makes our organization unique,” says Ruiz.

David Brown is an 18-year-old at Rhodes High School. He says Hispanic Youth Leadership Program helped him bring his grades up to As and Bs in his senior year.

“That all showed me that I can be a leader, not just here, but even further and even larger, in the community, not just at the school, not just for myself, but for multiple people,” says Brown.

Joseph LaTorre—a 17-year-old senior at Lincoln West High School—credits his mentor with getting him on a better path toward graduation.

“I want to be a mentor here when I finish school because I feel that the help I got here I can pass it on to another student or another kid in my community who won’t have the type of support that they need to succeed,” says LaTorre.

Esperanza serves about a thousand students annually with 13 different outreach programs.

Graduation rates among Latinos in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District have improved by more than 10 points since 2011 –from 52.2 to 64.3 percent.

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