In its conceptual idea, nonprofits were meant to be completely separate from both government entities and for profits. However, history has shown that not only is that idea unrealistic, but it is inefficient as well. These three sectors all have symbiotic relationships with one another. In simplified terms, governments receive funds mainly through taxes. Taxes that citizens have the means to pay by their jobs at for profit businesses. Nonprofits receive their funds entirely from government grants, or private donations from individuals or businesses.
Businesses and citizens alike receive the services provided by both government entities and nonprofits. Donations to nonprofits also have the benefit of providing tax breaks, and in the right circumstances, good publicity for the business or individual. Nonprofits have specifically been built into the current tax system to allow them to provide services without the fear of possible government retaliation against them if they don’t conform to the current administration or societal beliefs. These protections allow the nonprofits to help groups, communities or individuals who have historically been underserved by government entities.
Traditionally nonprofits provide services, education, and physical goods to individuals. Nonprofits work in a variety of ways, but they all have the ultimate goal towards making life better, whether that is in the form of protecting the environment, health clinics, soup kitchens, community education classes etc. these organizations all attempt to fix gaps left by society. The dropout rates noted above are one example of these gaps and a reason why minorities find it difficult to believe that the American Dream is achievable for them.
This, however, indicates a deeper issue that is pervasive in the Hispanic population: they are undereducated and therefore at a disadvantage in the job marketplace. This disadvantage leads to an inability to achieve their own version of the American Dream. One organization that helps to combat the issue is Latinos in Action (LIA) a nonprofit (501(C)(3)) organization whose goals tailor around the idea of improving civic and educational engagement of the Latin American Community. They accomplish this through a variety of means.
The majority of these take place in the education system, in which students are taught courses on leadership, academic success, culture, and service. In addition, LIA seeks to work closely with other nonprofits and governmental organizations to further promote and achieve its goals. LIA is a unique organization. It is a non-profit organization funded through United Way, private donations and government grants, however the organization is intricately linked with high schools and colleges (both public and private).
This dichotomy allows the organization to reach students on a daily and personal basis, but it leaves the organization with a mixture of non-profit and public sector elements. Funding for the organization comes from typical non-profit sources, but those funds are used for not only normal administrative employees, but also to pay teachers to work in public schools. These teachers are paid by the organization, the process typically has the funds being given to the schools, who then pay the individual teacher.
These teachers have to follow the basic state and federal curriculum guidelines, but the content, and guidelines fall within the objectives that LIA has come up with and follows their mission. Each school has a chapter of LIA. The heads of each chapter are the teachers, and then students enroll in the classes or volunteer with the organization. The teachers of each chapter report to the principal of their schools, or to the deans of colleges if they are at the university level. There is only a small administrative staff that works exclusively for the organization and has no additional ties with other public or nonprofit groups.
This unusual system means the organization has both public and private employees. This arrangement allows teachers to work one on one with students and be able to work with them on a regular basis, not only in the classroom, but also allows the students to participate in the organization outside of the classroom. As part of the curriculum, the students go once a week to elementary schools and tutor the elementary students in reading, during their regular LIA class period. Outside of class the students are required to complete additional service projects hosted by LIA.
Juniors and seniors in high school also go on college campus tours to the local universities and community colleges. The underlying goal of the organization is to instill a desire to continue their education, whether it be the traditional route of college or through job trainings and individual certifications that allow for entry directly into the workforce. This organization has chapters mainly in the state of Utah, but a growing number schools and school districts are using the program in Florida as well.
These two states have been an excellent starting point for this nonprofit for two very contrasting reasons. Utah has historically had very low Latino graduation rates throughout the state. In 2015 the graduation rates for Hispanic high school students had jumped 17 points since 2010, but the jump only increased the graduation rate to 72%. Florida on the other hand simply has the sheer numbers of students that need assistance. For the 2016-2017 school year, Utah has 108,141 Hispanic/Latino students enrolled in their K-12 classes, Florida has 913,073.
In a short amount of time, these programs appear to have had positive outcomes for the two school districts who have a large number of chapters in their high schools, Broward County Public School District and Orange County School District. In 2012 the dropout rate for Hispanic students in Broward County was 1. 4%. By 2015 that number had dropped to 0. 9%. Orange County saw similar results of a dropout rate in 2012 of 1. 7% down to 0. 3% in 2015. While the Latinos in Action program is not the only factor in these changes, it increases awareness in the community and provides invaluable resources for students.
Moving Forward: Latinos in Action presents as a new model for what nonprofits can achieve if given the right access. The organization has a unique relationship with high school students and administrations, and therefore, it has unique challenges. As stated previously, nonprofits were meant to be separate from government entities. This organization cannot allow those barriers to exist since they work in the schools and offer elective classes as part of the school curriculum.
LIA staff has to work side by side with the school administration on the curriculum of the classes, follow the school guidelines for attendance, and outings and most importantly, the teachers. The teachers are paid by LIA, but they work, and fall under the management of the school they’re assigned in. The administrative challenges are only a part of what nonprofits like LIA come across. One of the largest issues in achieving their mission statements is the students themselves, overcoming their family and personal struggles.