Bridging Needs With Generosity

Pictured: Dominga Lopez Raymundo mentors Guatemalan students across the Dubuque Community School District, bridging language and cultural barriers to support their education and long-term success.

When a longtime Community Foundation supporter learned that a growing number of Dubuque students from Guatemala were struggling, she wanted to help.

With her generous support, the Community Foundation is funding a new mentor position to bridge language and cultural barriers for these students and set them on a path to thriving futures. It’s a solution made possible by having the right relationships, partners and data to understand the need.

Dubuque’s Guatemalan community members face unique challenges. Many came to the United States as unaccompanied minors, a legal status that affords them a path to citizenship but little social safety net support. Plus, many speak indigenous dialects like Ixil that are uncommon here. Because of this barrier, they miss learning valuable life skills, classroom instruction and career prep.

Our work with nonprofits helped us zero in on a solution. One of our partners knew Dubuque resident Dominga Lopez Raymundo, who speaks Ixil, Spanish and English, and recommended her as a mentor for the schools. District officials were enthusiastic, but they were unable to hire her because she did not have a high school diploma.

To find a solution, we worked with Northeast Iowa Community College, which created a position on its staff for Dominga, enabling her to contract with the K-12 system while earning her high school equivalency diploma through the college. The supporter made a grant from her donor-advised fund to pay Dominga’s salary.

“This solution came together because of how we work,” says Alex Baum, the Community Foundation’s knowledge management director. “Data helped us identify the need, and thanks to our strong relationships, we were able to bridge that need with generous, committed partners.”

This story is part of our 2020 Annual Report.