The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) is the largest Hispanic Christian organization in America, providing leadership and support for over 40,000 Hispanic faith communities across the country including hundreds of Hispanic evangelical churches in Washington State. With such a large network, NHCLC is uniquely positioned to advance causes across denominations through the evangelical faith community. Nationally and in Washington State, young Hispanics represent a core demographic in the growing evangelical faith movement (TIME Magazine, April 2013).
NHCLC provides leadership development training, networking, fellowship, strategic partnerships and public policy advocacy, focusing on seven key issues or directives:
Life Healthy families Compassionate evangelism Stewardship Justice Youth
NHCLC’s La Educacion es la Llave Initiative
NHCLC launched a pilot program at Hispanic evangelical churches in Washington State as part of a broad youth education initiative called, La Educacion es la Llave. The purpose is to equip individual Latino churches to bring education under the ministry umbrella of their church, ensuring that youth, their parents and the wider Hispanic community within their sphere of influence grasp the vital importance of high school graduation, pursuing college and speaking English. The aim is saturation coverage (total participation) in each church so that the church’s educational culture is transformed from within. NHCLC believes that when churches engage in the education of their youth, they build a “firewall” against social and community problems including poverty, teen pregnancy and juvenile delinquency/gangs.
Inclusive, Community-Based Model
La Educacion es la Llave takes an inclusive community-based approach, involving the church congregation, students, their parents and local schools. In many cases, Hispanic parents don’t understand the educational system in the U.S. and education isn’t a priority for them. If Hispanic youths are to succeed, their parents and the church community—as well as the local school district—have to be on board. Because Washington State has one of the fastest-growing Latino populations in the U.S., NHCLC believes it is a perfect location for its pilot program.
Hispanic youth in the U.S. are more likely to drop out of high school than any other youth group (Washington State Commission on Hispanic Affairs). Hispanics make up 11% of Washington’s population (totaling 760,000) and the median age is 23.
51% of Hispanic youth failed to graduate from high school (EPE Research Center, 2009)
Latino students make up 38.6% of U.S. college drop-outs
10.4% of Hispanic adults have a bachelor’s degree (lower than any other U.S. ethnic group)
69% of Hispanics speak Spanish at home (Pew Research Hispanic Center)
The Pilot Program
The Goal: to equip churches to reduce the high school drop-out rate, increase college readiness, and improve Hispanic parents’ English skills.
Locations: Four Hispanic evangelical churches in Washington State (“prototype churches”):
Moses Lake, Washington
Pilot Components: NHCLC will train and work alongside churches and work directly with the appointed Education Advocate in each church. Specific components will include:
Printed curricular materials (in Spanish and English)
Web-based support and digital materials (in Spanish and English)
Training for Project Coordinator and in-church Education Advocates
Develop reporting mechanisms
Education seminars at the four churches
Follow-up with individual youth and parents
Develop after-school tutoring and mentoring program
Launch adult education classes (GED completion, etc.) and/or ESL Partnerships with community groups and local schools
NHCLC’s goal is to replicate the pilot program (Phase 1) across Washington State and across the U.S., partnering with hundreds of evangelical Hispanic churches in its network:
Phase 2: Expand to 100 Latino churches in the Western U.S.
Phase 3: Expand to 1,000 Latino churches nationwide.