Latina A.R.M.Y. Inc. Announces La Mariposa: A Personal Empowerment Program for Adolescent Latinas

Culturally-relevant model with a frame work grounded on evidence-based principles
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Jan. 31, 2016 - PRLog -- The Latina A.R.M.Y., Inc. (TLA) announced the immediate availability of La Mariposa: A Personal Empowerment Program for Adolescent Latinas. The La Mariposa program model is rooted in the Latina experience and built on the foundational principals of effective programming for girls, using a relational, trauma-informed, and strengths-based approach throughout the sessions. This rich combination is integrated throughout the 12 session curriculum, providing facilitators with a structured format, instructions for creating a safe space, and activities that create opportunities for girls to support one another while sharing their ideas and experiences with a trusted adult.

TLA launched a similar program in 2009; beginning as a regional grassroots endeavor by dedicated volunteers serving over 1,000 girls in Connecticut’s New Haven, Hartford and Fairfield counties. Driven solely by word of mouth, demand for the two-session TLA workshop grew until the demand for workshops outpaced the available number of facilitators. TLA has been working to reposition for expansion since that time.

Grant funding, from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Hispanics in Philanthropy Funders’ Collaborative for Strong Latino Communities, supported the evaluation and enhancement of the TLA workshop. La Mariposa was developed off of the TLA workshop platform adding a more sustainable approach that can provide positive Latina role models and effective life skills to Latinas throughout the US.

Many first and second-generation adolescent Latinas experience great difficulty trying to bridge two cultures where values and gender role expectations often collide. “As Latinas and caring non-Latinas, we have the honorable opportunity to empower girls with the tools that can help them to embrace their dual-cultural realities”, said Nancy Roldán Johnson, co-author of La Mariposa and co-founder of The Latina A.R.M.Y., Inc. As the program model developed, Roldán Johnson said it was essential to ensure that girls had a voice in the program design – a basic tenant of good gender responsive practice. Participants in the TLA workshops were engaged in a series of focus groups to determine their likes, dislikes, and needs. These findings were integrated into the final version of the model. “La Mariposa is an opportunity for Latinas to develop real skills in areas that will enhance their lives. Providers would be wise to offer La Mariposa to engage girls and help them learn to navigate the cultural complexities they experience. It is a rarity to have an accessible group curriculum designed specifically to be effective with this vulnerable population (Kim Selvaggi, co-author).”

According to the organization’s Chair of the Board of Directors, Eliana Nuñez, “The Mariposa Program provides Latina girls the opportunity to envision their future in a more promising way and provides them with the skills and tools empowering them to achieve self-actualization. I am very proud of this work as it comes from the grass roots efforts of many Latina women who experienced the same challenges facing our girls today,” said Nuñez. “Our organization is committed to making the program available to all Latina girls across the US with community support and partners with an aligned vision.”

In a joint report published in 2009, Listening to Latinas: Barriers to High School Graduation, the National Women’s Law Center and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, highlight the importance of creating “environments where programming, activities and curricula incorporate and value Latino history, culture, and identities, as well as other cultures.” Furthermore, “Girls with long-term plans or educational aspirations have more hope for the future, are less likely to get pregnant, and become more engaged in school and related activities—all factors making it more likely that they will graduate from high school and make it to college. Seeing someone in front of them who looks like them, came from where they come from, and has done well and achieved her career and educational goals can empower students and enhance their possibilities for success. And research has shown that a relationship with a caring adult helps students to stay in school and graduate.”

According to the report titled Fulfilling America’s Future: Latinas In The U.S., 2015, by Patricia Gándara, Professor of Education, UCLA and Co-Director, The Civil Rights Project and The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, 1 in 5 women in the US is a Latina with projections that “by 2060, Latinas will form nearly a third of the female population of the nation.” The report confirms that “Latinas have made significant progress over the last decade, yet not all are faring as well as they must if they are to be able to realize their aspirations and continue to make important contributions to society and the economy.”

A growing number of studies and national publications highlight the need for culturally competent programs to engage participants and to maximize the program’s effectiveness. According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, “cultural competency needs to a priority” when working with Latino youth. Moreover, organizations and foundations such as the Family & Youth Services Bureau and the National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth recommend culturally relevant and gender-specific programming as critical elements to improving outcomes for underserved populations. “We designed the facilitator’s guide to offer facilitators an in-depth understanding of Latinos and Latina adolescents by looking closely at cultural features like the demographic makeup of the US Latino population, cultural values and beliefs, importance of familia (family), and the opportunities and challenges many Latina adolescents encounter today," said Roldán Johnson.

Participant Impact.

“I feel that it will open their eyes as it has mine,” said a New Haven, CT high school student. “[It] will show them that they are beautiful and that they can and WILL make it in whatever they decide to pursue after high school.”

La Mariposa is available for immediate shipment nationally at

Founded in 2009, The Latina A.R.M.Y., Inc. is a national nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) organization established to celebrate and support the empowerment of young Latinas by providing inspirational role models and powerful life skills for personal excellence. La Mariposa is co-authored by Nancy Roldán Johnson and Kimberly Sokoloff Selvaggi and was adapted from the 2009 Latina A.R.M.Y., Inc. JARS empowerment program manual, written by Nancy Roldán Johnson and Carmen Marcano- Davis, Ph.D.

For more information on La Mariposa: A Personal Empowerment Program for Adolescent Latinas:

Nancy Roldán Johnson
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Tags:Culturally Relevant Program, Latino Youth, Latina empowerment program
Location:New Haven - Connecticut - United States
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Page Updated Last on: Jan 31, 2016
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