Empowering Black And Latinx Students: Silvia Canales Of The Brotherhood Sister Sol Sets The Stage For A Productive Back-to-School Season
As summer comes to an end and makes way for a new school year, preparations begin for both students and parents. These preparations aren’t just about hitting the back-to-school sales, but also ensuring students are in the proper mindset for the upcoming school year. In marginalized communities, the transition can pose extra challenges that demand additional resources and support.
The Brotherhood Sister Sol (BroSis), a Harlem-based nonprofit and social justice organization focused on Black and Latinx youth, offers much-needed resources for families to get ready for the back-to-school season through activities and programs.
Guiding this empowering organization is Silvia Canales, the director of College, Career & Wellness at BroSis.
Canales and her team at BroSis understand the significance of supporting youth and their education efforts year-round.
“Throughout the year, we keep our members active and engaged, whether it’s dissecting various types of media, exploring NYC museums, delving into horticultural sciences, or embarking on international journeys to African or Latin American countries,” explained Canales. “Our summer programming is designed to cultivate and peak our members’ interests, fostering a continuous love for learning that extends beyond the academic year and seamlessly integrates back into the classroom.”
BroSis even aids youth when they transition from high school to college. This pivotal milestone often times requires a lot of support, and BroSis takes proactive measures to ensure students are well-equipped for this transformative journey. A cornerstone of their strategy is the concept of Holistic College Access. Starting from an early age, students are introduced to the college world to gain valuable insights.
“Here at BroSis, we are dedicated to empowering Black and Latinx youth to claim the power of their history, identity and community and build the future they want to see. Holistic College Access includes preparing our members for the daunting college transition,” explains Canales.
She continues, “At BroSis, we foster a college-going culture, introducing careers, higher education, and post-secondary options to our elementary school-aged members. College tours are an integral part of our programming, exposing members to diverse campuses and demographics.”
Through BroSis students can delve into an intensive college preparation phase and the organization provides a supportive space that is curated to discuss and navigate college-related challenges. From confronting the realities of attending Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) to gaining financial literacy and acclimating to new social environments, students are equipped with the tools to navigate their college journey successfully.
“During the summer of their senior year, we conduct our Transition Workshop series, a space where members learn about what to expect on a college campus and in social scenes, receive tips on how to access resources at school, as well as delve into budgeting and financial literacy to best prepare them for this initial stage of adulthood and independence,” says Canales.
She adds that the organization also helps students obtain supplies. “We ensure their basic needs are met, and provide our college-bound members with laptops and educational scholarships to assist in covering the gaps in financial aid. These scholarships have helped cover costs in tuition, room and board, and personal expenses such as toiletries and travel back and forth to school,” she says.
Carrying out BroSis’ mission, Canales remains committed to fostering a culturally inclusive environment. Via BroSis’ impactful programs, students connect with professionals of color who share similar backgrounds, effectively dismantling barriers and inspiring them to pursue their aspirations.
“As an educator and a social activist, I am committed to introducing our members to professionals of color who look like them and share similar backgrounds. I ensure that our young people literally see themselves in boardrooms, and corporate offices as heads of institutions and policy makers,” notes Canales.
To lay a strong foundation for the upcoming school year, collaboration with parents, teachers, and community members is imperative. BroSis actively informs stakeholders about their comprehensive approach, inviting them to join forces in nurturing student success. This unified effort amplifies the impact, ensuring that students are holistically supported on their educational journey.
In the face of academic challenges, Canales’ advice to students is clear and potent: “Ask for help!” She emphasizes the importance of seeking assistance when needed, as a network of resources is readily available to fuel their academic growth.
“Schools, teachers, counselors, and community educators are all here for YOUR success. Any struggle, obstacle, or challenge you may face can be overcome with the appropriate support and resources. You may not have them in your hands at the moment, but someone you know may be able to lend a guiding hand.”