Latino parents in the DeKalb and Sycamore school districts are preparing for the spring session of Universidad para Padres (Parent University), a free program that empowers mothers, fathers and grandparents to take active roles in their personal growth along with their children’s academic success.
The program consists of 14 evening sessions held from September through May from 6 to 8 p.m. at DeKalb High School. At these sessions, local experts cover everything from bilingual education in the local K-12 education system to the ins and outs the college exploration and application process. One of the goals of the program is to better prepare Latino parents in overcoming cultural, financial and language barriers so that they can support their children’s education. Sessions also help parents identify and pursue their own education and career goals.
“Parents who are successfully pursuing their own growth have a better chance of helping their children do the same,” said Susana Das Neves, the program’s coordinator. “So Parent University is really about empowering the whole family, making sure everyone is getting the skills they need and connecting parents and kids to relevant local resources.”
Upcoming topics include summer camps and activities, healthy living, resume building and job searches, college savings plans, financing a home and immigration.
Universidad para Padres began as a six-session pilot program in the fall of 2016, but participants were so enthusiastic that eight more sessions were added. The program will culminate in a ceremony led by NIU President Doug Baker on May 20.
More than 100 people attended the Universidad para Padres posada on Dec. 17. They celebrated the holiday season with a cooking contest, holiday crafts and games, Mexican holiday carols and a piñata.
“Being part of Universidad para Padres has enriched me as a person,” said one participant. “I now feel that I have more tools to continue my family’s growth.”
Parent University is also great opportunity for NIU students to volunteer and engage with the Latino community in DeKalb and Sycamore. NIU student volunteers are needed to assist with childcare during spring sessions. Contact Das Neves at 815-753-1420 to help. Special thanks to students and organizations who provided childcare in the fall sessions: Huskie Service Scholars, Alpha Psi Lambda, Adela de La Torre Latino Honor Society, DREAM Action NIU, Gamma Phi Omega, Spanish Club, elementary education major Diana Alday, Spanish major Jordan Landauer, and psychology majors Melissa Martinez and Janane Al-Maliki.
“Susana does a fabulous job of helping parents figure out what they need to know and then bringing in speakers,” said Amy Jo Clemens of NIU’s P-20 Center, who supervises the program.
“These parents are building closer relationships with the schools and finding resources throughout the community.”
Universidad para Padres is sponsored by the Regional P-20 Network, a collaborative organization based at NIU which includes 11 community colleges and 30 school districts.
For more information or to refer parents you think might be interested, please contact Susana Das Neves at 815-753-1420 or firstname.lastname@example.org.