Editor’s Note: The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading recently reactivated its Spanish newsletter and social media channels, including @LeerPara3roSuncoast on Facebook and @LeerPara3ro on Twitter.
At The Patterson Foundation, communication and community engagement are core to everything we do. The COVID-19 pandemic provided the opportunity for the TPF team to look around and say, are we reaching the people we need to with the information they need? This questioning lead us to identifying a key gap in our communications — the Spanish-speaking community.
Beth Duda, director of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, likes to use the phrase “radical inclusion.” What this means is that TPF doesn’t just look around and think, “Well, that’s enough people.” We seek to connect with EVERYONE, wherever they are in Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 21% of households in Florida speak Spanish. If we only communicate in English, TPF is potentially missing out on 20% of the community.
Enter fresh opportunities across many TPF initiatives. We are fortunate to have stellar bi-lingual community engagement consultants already working with SCGLR, who are brimming with great ideas for engaging with Spanish-speaking families. From Spanish book circles, bi-lingual family engagement nights, and newsletters offered in English and Spanish, TPF is learning more every day about being radically inclusive in communications and engagement.
Another opportunity to be radically inclusive in TPF communications was to evaluate the reach of our Aspirations Journalism initiative. With thousands of readers in Sarasota and Manatee, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune is a great vehicle to educate and engage some, but it doesn’t connect well with families in DeSoto or Charlotte counties nor those whose primary language is Spanish. Enter a new partnership with Solmart Media. Solmart owns and operates three all-Spanish radio stations: La Numero Uno AM1280/FM99.1 and La Zeta FM105.3. Radio allows information to reach families when they’re in the car, at work, or through the stations’ social media pages. By meeting families where they are, with relevant and timely information, people are informed about critical issues important to them.
In retrospect, perhaps TPF should’ve known we needed consistent, robust outreach in Spanish. However, if the best day to start was yesterday, the second-best day is today. Our teams are working hard to make sure that we’re utilizing the best channels, content, and engagement strategies to be radically inclusive.