Enroot in the News

Opinion Piece Featured in Cambridge Chronicle

Ben Clark, Enroot’s Executive Director, wrote an open letter to the white community of Cambridge featured in the Cambridge Chronicle.

“For a city that has long championed civil rights and discourse on equity and inclusion, it is alarming how Cambridge’s ongoing struggles with racism remain a daily part of life for so many residents of color. Sadly, most white people like me remain passive in a situation that demands active resistance.

In recent months there have been countless incidents of racism and hatred around greater Boston -- from graffiti in schools to death threats made to Muslim students. Here in Cambridge, the two racist incidents at our high school in the last week were just the latest to put the issue on full display.

These disturbing occurrences point to a much broader and unfortunate trend across the country, as captured in November’s FBI report, which highlighted a 17 percent spike in hate crimes nationwide in the last year. It’s important to measure and condemn such overt acts of oppression, yet many more subtle moments go unrecorded and unnoticed every day by those who are not victims.

Everyone is susceptible to implicit bias in thought and action. But those of us who are white and benefit each day from our white privilege must be especially honest with ourselves about our ugliest biases and all the ways they manifest themselves in discriminatory actions.

To my fellow white community members, I urge you -- take time to look yourself humbly in the mirror and consider the biases you hold that cause you to view people of color in an inferior light. Search your memory for moments in recent months and years when you acted in a way that diminished the dignity and well-being of people of color in your life.”

Read the full article here.

Enroot Featured in Christian Science Monitor

What's made rates of degree attainment for immigrant students spike? A recent Christian Science Monitor article featured Enroot’s work and our students, written by Jasmine Heyward.

A college education bestows undeniable career advantages. What can be learned from the astonishing successes of immigrant students in the US over the last 30 years?

“At Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (CRLS) in Cambridge, Mass., students flood into the international student center after the bell rings, marking the end of the school day.

One of them is Nafis Rahman, a high school senior from Bangladesh who arrived in the United States in 2016. After spending his first year in classes specifically for English-language learners, he’s now able to take courses with the mainstream students at CRLS. His favorite: Advanced Placement Computer Science.

Greeting him and others are staff from Enroot, a nonprofit that works with immigrant high school students in Cambridge and Somerville, Mass. They pepper the students with questions: Are you coming to the leadership workshop this week? When was the last time you talked to your mentor?

It’s the kind of holistic approach that students like Nafis say they find helpful. He has received tutoring, mentoring, and an internship from Enroot – and is now applying to college.

“Tomorrow I’m going to submit applications to all the UMass [schools] and WPI,” he says, referring to Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Mass.

Across the country, the education levels of immigrants have been steadily rising over the past several decades, partly because of programs like Enroot that focus on providing long-term support. In 1980, about 16 percent of immigrants had earned a bachelor’s degree. By 2016, the number grew to 30 percent, according to the Pew Research Center. This increase has all but closed the gap between immigrants and US-born residents: 31.6 percent of those born in the US have a bachelor’s degree.

While immigrants from South and East Asia are most likely to hold a bachelor’s degree, and college graduates from those groups are more likely to remain in the US to work, educational attainment is rising among all ethnicities and origin countries. For example, the number of Mexican immigrants 25 and older with a high school diploma has more than doubled since 1980 – from 11.4 to 25.2 percent. Experts say it’s necessary to take the long view to see those numbers rise more.

Educators who work with immigrant students, especially at the high school level, say it’s necessary to take the long view to see those numbers rise even more.

Sandra Cañas, Enroot’s Cambridge program director, has found that many of the immigrant students who arrive at CRLS are highly driven and hold themselves to high standards but need extra resources as they adjust to a new learning experience.

“Some of the students come with one parent, and they don’t have the support or the guidance they need to make decisions in regards to school issues,” she says. “The whole process is so daunting ... we feel that it is important that students get the support they need for whatever they want to do.”’

A Letter To Our Community

Dear Enroot Community,

We write to share with you that Enroot’s Board of Directors has made the difficult decision to sell the building we own at 99 Bishop Allen Drive in Cambridge. After many months of consultation, discussion and deliberation, we determined this change was essential to enable Enroot to continue delivering on its mission, “To empower immigrant youth to achieve academic, career, and personal success through inspiring out-of-school time experiences.” We feel a moral imperative to address the growing need among immigrant youth and their families in our communities, particularly in our current political and economic climate.

Our building is now more than 100 years old, and the increasing costs of maintenance and operation have constrained our organization’s ability to focus on our primary mission. Our paramount responsibility is to ensure we can sustainably pursue our mission and to serve more students.

Enroot remains as committed as ever to advancing equity through its support of immigrant students in Cambridge and Somerville, and will continue to grow the number of students we serve in both communities. We’re proud that nearly all of our students complete high school and our alumni go on to complete college at nearly triple the rate of comparable students. Over the last 25 years, with broad community support, and in close partnership with the Cambridge Public Schools and City of Cambridge, we’ve expanded the number of students we serve from 20 to nearly 200 today. Our 10-year vision for the future is to serve 1200 students in the surrounding area. The sale of our building supports our ability to meet the expanding needs of the immigrant community.

As a small non-profit, we deeply value the work of our fellow nonprofits in the building, many of whom have shared this space for years. Their continued success is essential to our community. We recognize the challenge they will face to secure a space that meets their organizational needs, and carefully considered this during our decision-making.

As we initiate the process to explore this sale we will work diligently to ensure the transition minimizes disruption for our students and those who occupy space in the building, as well as the wider community. While many details lie ahead, we are actively engaged in ongoing communications with neighboring nonprofits and do not plan to initiate a sale before 2019.

We are confident that by re-focusing our energies, we will be better equipped to respond to the growing needs of the immigrant student population.

We welcome questions and concerns from the community. Please direct communication to Executive Director Ben Clark, bclark@enrooteducation.org.

With appreciation,

Enroot Board of Directors

The State of Latino Education in Somerville

On October 10th, students, staff, and community members participated in a town hall on the State of Latino Education in Somerville with Jeff Riley, the Massachusetts Commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Somerville students asked critical questions about the state of education for immigrants and Latino students, ranging from the high cost of college for students without documentation in Massachusetts to creating a more inclusive curriculum showcasing diverse and representative writers and historical figures.


Riley was asked by parents and teachers to address the disparity in MCAS scores for Latino, English Language Learners, and black students. He responded that while Massachusetts ranks number one in education in the United States for some students, it is not effectively serving all students and that Massachusetts has some of the largest achievement gaps. Riley described his work in Lawrence and his plans to address disparities at the state level through partnerships with communities and families. Somerville Superintendent Mary Skipper included Enroot as one of the partners she looked forward to working with in ensuring more English language learners were admitted to honors and advanced placement courses. The town hall structure provided an opportunity for Enroot students to ask questions and engage with the education system.

Thank you to Latinos for Education and Somerville Public Schools for putting the event together. We appreciate the leadership of Commissioner Jeff Riley and Superintendent Mary Skipper as they look to make education more equitable for all.

Enroot staff and students pictured with Somerville Mayor Curtatone before the Town Hall.

Enroot staff and students pictured with Somerville Mayor Curtatone before the Town Hall.

The Immigrant Experience: Learning Through Art and Community Voice

Enroot is honored to participate in Cambridge Community Foundation's event. Learn more about the immigrant experience through poetry and stories of those living in our community today, featuring Enroot’s students. We hope you can join us on Monday, September 26th, 5:30 PM at Harvard Yard.

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"If a society permits one portion of its citizenry to be menaced or destroyed, then, very soon, no one in that society is safe." — James Baldwin

We have seen the inhumane and unjust treatment of immigrant families and children in our country and our communities, but what is the effect on the human being? Learn more about the immigrant experience through poetry and stories of those living in our community today at this innovative Cambridge Community Foundation experience. Standing beside Teresita Fernández's Harvard public art project, Autumn (...Nothing Personal), we will learn about how this work was inspired by James Baldwin's 1964 essay, Nothing Personal, published at the height of the civil rights movement. Local poets, storytellers, students, and dancers will personalize and bring to life the themes of disconnection, injustice and divisiveness in America, as well as the hope that love, light and trust can bring. We hope you can join us for this unique experience.

Special thanks to the Harvard University Committee on the Arts for this community platform.