In April 2002, the first networking conference among the 13 implementation sites was held in Chicago, Illinois. Co-hosted by the Kellogg Foundation and the Chicago ENLACE Partnership, the meeting was attended by some 220 educators, students, and parents. Other guests included representatives of Chicago-area foundations, city and governmental agencies, and social service organizations. The large turnout reflected the energy of the entire initiative: there is widespread interest in ENLACE from multiple sectors of society.
The conference featured speeches by Dr. William Richardson, president and CEO of the Kellogg Foundation, and Carlos Gutierrez, CEO and chairman of the Kellogg Company. Sessions highlighted site strategies on strenghtening transition points along the K-16 pathway. Additionally, there were site visits to local ENLACE partner schools and community-based organizations, as well as a forum on Latino education policy in Illinois.
ENLACE grantees are taking an active role in shaping the future of the initiative. In Chicago, students and parents called for more ways to work together. Project directors decided that they require more frequent meetings among themselves to share ideas and promising practices.
“ENLACE is exemplary,” Sarita Brown, director of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund Institute, told the audience. “When decisionmakers at the national level want to quickly connect with the [Latino] community, they can turn to these 13 sites and all that you represent. That is a very powerful beginning.”
Next year’s ENLACE networking conference is scheduled for April in Miami, Florida.