SAN JOSE, Calif.- How can a Santa Clara County community that is the epitome of education and health inequities reverse those trends?
A resident-led organization is launching an effort in east San Jose’s Mayfair neighborhood seeking to do just that - by tapping into the community’s knowledge, power and tradition of self-reliance.
At the heart of Somos Mayfair’s plan is the training of a network of peer mentors, or Promotores, to engage their neighbors in addressing community issues. Each will gain skills in mentorship and group facilitation. Together, they’ll motivate their friends and neighbors to tackle several issues – including closing the achievement gap in third-grade reading, a critical indicator of future success, increasing school readiness for students entering kindergarten and establishing neighborhood-wide norms for healthy nutrition, exercise and emotional self care.
The program, called In Our Hands- A Community Power Building Campaign and focused on the working class Latino neighborhood, is being funded with a $775,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
“Through this campaign, Mayfair will see more academic success and greater wellness in its homes, but more importantly, we will achieve the most critical goal of transforming Mayfair into an engaged community of mutual support,” said Jaime Alvarado, Executive Director of Somos Mayfair.
“The solutions to communities’ pressing challenges often lie within. We’re excited to see how the Promotores can draw those solutions out and help the people of Mayfair build a better community,” said Judith Kleinberg, San Jose/Silicon Valley program director for Knight Foundation, which promotes informed and engaged communities.
Through a smaller, pilot program, Somos Mayfair found that, on average, the volunteer Promotores were 27 % more effective than paid staff in engaging, training and mentoring other community members to support early childhood success and family wellness. A Santa Clara County evaluation also found that the pilot helped neighbors feel more connected and supported. With Knight funding, the program will expand its mission and be enacted neighborhood wide.
“It gives me pride that the work of engaging Mayfair residents is now in our hands,” volunteer Promotora Nelly Blas said. “I feel that we as Promotores have the power to pass on to other Mayfair residents everything that we have learned at Somos Mayfair so that they also have the opportunity and desire to move forward.”
About Somos Mayfair
Somos Mayfair cultivates the dreams and power of the people of Mayfair by activating a new model for powerful community networks. We are generations of immigrants, rooted in a vibrant community, who nurture successful students, healthy families and who speak out for justice in Silicon Valley.
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged.
Somos Mayfair: Camille Llanes-Fontanilla, Associate Director (408) 937-2576
Knight Foundation: Andrew Sherry, VP for Communications, (305) 908-2677; email@example.com
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.