Jóvenes Adelante: We Are All About the Students

By Team Jóvenes Adelante

Four years ago Jóvenes Adelante quietly began intense internal reform. 

Our old model of largely a top down and working Board of Directors —was to be replaced by a “governance model.” What has emerged is new: a profoundly collaborative model. Our small professional staff and volunteer Board of Directors, led by our Executive Director and board President, now work together with increased flexibility, productivity and agility.

Staff are empowered to increasingly take on more initiative and collaborative leadership and responsibility, while the Board continues to “let go” of everything except networking and fundraising.

How close are we to our ideal? We produced a complete map of all we do: the “360 Degree View.” Part flow chart, part procedures and process documentation, and part capacity building analysis, it reveals how we can, and mostly do put human insight and care into every decision at Jóvenes Adelante. Our mechanisms must never lose sight of the human. Like the Tin Woodsman in the Wizard of Oz, our mechanisms need a «Dorothy» interceding at crucial moments to ensure that efficiency does not decay into bureaucracy —that effectiveness means serving the primary mission of caring for and nurturing our scholars.

The 360 Degree View illuminates for JA a problem facing all NGOs: can the systems, staff and board embodying the processes and procedures essential to legal and financial operation, also maintain the purposeful caring and love of their primary constituents —in our case, our students? 

At JA, the answer is yes. But it is not something to be taken for granted. 

To maintain our progress and sustainable growth as we execute the transition, we made several pledges:

  1. Our capacity is governed by our ability to deliver the quality, personalized service to our students that our founders envisioned.
  2. JA works best when everyone and everything commits to 5 years: our students, our sponsors, our mentors; our board members and staff members. In a sign of commitment and contentment, every staff member has committed to stay with JA for another 5 years. 
  3. A “forever” president is not healthy for the organization. However, transitions require consistency. The president agreed to extend his term for a 4th year while our Secretary, Janice Lingley —a school teacher and principal by profession, agreed to serve as President-Elect starting March, 2022.
  4. Every addition to staff or board must be viewed with an eye towards the team —and is to be taken on with the greatest of care not to disrupt the harmony and internal coalescence and cooperation we have arduously built and currently enjoy.

Shortly JA will issue its annual report and we will invite you to view it on our website. It will contain highlights of the year, including excerpts from the 360 Degree View. As this article goes to press, we await the final number of Jóvenes Adelante applicants for the class of 2022. The goal: 35 new students, and 35 new sponsors and mentors! To discuss sponsorship, please contact donkrim@jovenesadelante.org