José-Pablo Fernandez: Hispanic Parents Are Changemakers

Ashoka Fellow
United States,
Fellow Since 2004
My work: providing Hispanic parents with educational opportunities that will enable them to transform communities.

Citation

This profile was prepared when Jose-Pablo Fernandez was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
Many Hispanic immigrants find themselves locked into dead-end, low-wage jobs by barriers of language and culture, bringing serious consequences for themselves and their children. Jose-Pablo Fernandez helps immigrant parents escape unfulfilling work through job training programs, and at the same time helps them secure quality education for their children. At the Mexican Institute, immigrant parents take distance-learning courses offered by Monterrey Tech, a leading technical institution in Mexico. He offers these courses at community learning centers, often housed in local schools to involve parents in their children’s education as they learn crucial job skills.

Too often, immigrants with limited English skills and little formal education struggle to help their children with their schoolwork. In time, the children surpass their parents in their education, making it difficult for parents to play a supportive role in their children’s lives. Jose-Pablo’s idea is to help immigrant mothers and fathers catch up to their children in educational attainment, so that they can regain their parental authority, establish themselves as role models, and help their children succeed in school. His plan focuses on building bridges to local public schools and community colleges—offering parents instruction in their own language at their children’s schools, as well as at community centers, apartment complexes and in the workplace.

Jose-Pablo focuses on helping immigrant parents attain computer proficiency, which allows them to acquire necessary skills and access to vital information about education, employment, health and citizenship. Parents are drawn to Jose-Pablo’s program by the prospect of earning a diploma from Monterey Tech, an institution that is highly regarded in the Spanish-speaking community. By connecting new immigrants with a brand that is universally known and respected, Jose-Pablo can develop the grassroots participation needed to achieve broad social impact.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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