Washington Elementary Principal Maria Evans probably knew she had a difficult assignment when she was assigned to a low-income inner-city elementary school in the heart of Downtown San Jose. Soon after arriving, she recognized underneath this low-performing school afflicted by poverty and gang violence, there was something special. It was community.
While there was a lack of money, resources, and education, there was a deep and powerful network of communal ties and strong families in this Latino neighborhood. Principal Evans tapped that power and nurtured it in a program called “Madre-A-Madre” (Mother to Mother).
Principal Evans selected community leader Maria Marcelo to lead the organization. It started out slowly, with only two or three moms showing up at meetings back in 2004. They relentlessly invited the mothers, and pretty soon four or five moms were coming, then 10-15, then 30, and eventually it grew to more than 80 moms on the best weeks.
Fifteen years later, Madre-A-Madre has gone through ups and downs, facing numerous challenges. Nonetheless, it still thrives today under Maria Marcelo’s leadership.