Note: This article was written in collaboration with the team at Noticias.
In times of crisis, communities often come together to address pressing needs. In April 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic sent shockwaves through the education system, a group of dedicated individuals united to form an initiative that would prove to be a lifeline for Spanish-speaking parents in the Lake Washington School District. Noticias, a weekly school news video series produced in Spanish, was instrumental in providing vital information and support to parents both in navigating the complexities of remote learning and transitioning back to in-person instruction.
How did this initiative come about?
In April 2020, Eastside Pathways brought together community stakeholders to address the challenges posed by the pandemic, especially concerning the health and wellness of children and young adults. Within the Remote Living and Learning Collective Action Network (CAN), Equity in Communication members recognized the struggles faced by Spanish-speaking parents. Google Translate was insufficient in helping them understand the vast amount of school district information. Noticias was born out of a commitment to bridge this communication gap, providing parents with essential guidance on accessing virtual classes, operating student computers, and managing homework.
How did the partnership with LWSF come about?
Katy Philips, the Executive Director of the Lake Washington Schools Foundation (LWSF), learned about Noticias during an Eastside Pathways COVID-19 meeting. Recognizing the importance of this initiative, LWSF acted as the de facto fiscal sponsor to facilitate funding. The partnership has thrived, with LWSF’s continued support even after COVID funds were exhausted. LWSF’s recognition of Noticias’ work at its annual luncheon and publications has been pivotal in sustaining this project.
Meet the Noticias Team:
Behind every successful initiative, there’s a dedicated team. Here’s a glimpse of the core members driving Noticias forward:
- Liliana Medina: Videographer, transcreator, editor, and broadcaster. Owner of Sistema Escolar.
- Jamie Bonnett: Education Director at KidsQuest Children’s Museum and Noticias analyst.
- Cara Lanni: Education Programs Coordinator at King County Housing Authority.
- Chris Enslein: Facilitator and Community Volunteer.
- Cassandra Sage: Consultant for the Washington State School Directors Association (WSSDA) at Sage Advocacy.
- Danya Schwab: Equity, Family, and Community Engagement at Bellevue School District.
- Shannon Parthemer: Director of Communications at LWSD.
Behind the Scenes: Creating a Weekly Video
Ever wondered how Noticias brings you the latest news in a language that’s accessible and clear? Here’s a sneak peek into their process:
- Regular bi-weekly meetings are held to brainstorm content and plan operations.
- Every Wednesday, the team receives school information from LWSD and BSD.
- The script is created (through the process of “transcreation”) to resonate with the cultural and social context of the audience.
- This script is then recorded by anchors, edited, and seamlessly compiled.
- The final video is uploaded to Facebook and YouTube, complete with relevant links.
- The video is then distributed to community partners the following Monday and its outreach is amplified through advertising.
- Analytics are carefully collected and analyzed to gauge the video’s reach and impact.
Community Feedback: Noticias in Action
The heart of any initiative lies in the community it serves. Noticias receives ample feedback that underscores the effectiveness of its weekly videos. In addition to comments and likes on Facebook, Noticias conducts two focus groups each school year, where parents consistently express their gratitude for the initiative. These videos simplify complex information and empower parents to navigate the education system confidently.
The Numbers Behind Noticias
- Approximately 300 organic weekly videos view over Facebook and YouTube
- Over 480 Facebook followers
- The total reach for a school year exceeded 119,770, with 3,411 clicks, 1,214 reactions, and 161,157 impressions when others shared the content.
The Road Ahead: Noticias’ Plan and Aspirations
What does the future hold for Noticias? It’s a bright one! Since receiving initial funding from LWSF, other community partners have followed suit to support this work, including the City of Kirkland, City of Redmond, City of Bellevue, Lake Washington School District, Bellevue School District, and Bellevue Schools Foundation. Without that original funding, Noticias would not have been able to grow and thrive.
Noticias has renewed grant funding for the 2023-24 school year, guaranteeing weekly video distribution to Spanish-speaking families through Facebook, YouTube, and a brand-new channel – LWSD’s Parent Square email platform. This expanded distribution, along with data sharing from LWSD, aims to further enhance outreach. The team plans to continue producing weekly videos, introducing five special topic videos, and conducting two focus groups per semester. By providing context on the American and LWSD school systems in each video, Noticias empowers parents with a deeper understanding of their children’s educational opportunities.
In Conclusion: A Message of Gratitude
Noticias extends its heartfelt appreciation to LWSF and LWSD for their invaluable support. The initiative believes that genuine parent engagement results from effective communication. Empowered and informed parents play a pivotal role in helping their children reach their full potential, and Noticias continues to be a beacon of support and guidance in this journey.
In the midst of adversity, Noticias has emerged as a shining example of community collaboration, bridging gaps, and empowering parents. It stands as a testament to what can be achieved when individuals come together with a shared purpose.