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Be Patient
Cultural Efficiency is a journey

3 steps for getting started on the path to Cultural Efficiency

Being culturally efficient is a developmental process that evolves over an extended period. It is not so much a destination, as it is a journey. It is a journey that begins by knowing ourselves, before we try to understand others - after all, to understand how something is different from us, we must first define who we are.
Let us focus on organizations that intend to work in communities of color. Our organization, in this case, must first define for ourselves whether we are or intend to be a representative of communities of Color, or if we are an advocate on behalf of communities of color, or if we intend to provide a service to people of Color. Please note that even though we're focusing on people of Color, the following also applies when working with any culturally diverse group, including those with special needs or LGBTQ individuals.
If your organization's goal is to serve (to be a servant of) communities of Color, then your organization ought to strive to be either a representative or an advocate (one who speaks and works on behalf) of communities of Color. Here are three things your organization can do to begin your journey:

  • Adopt official and written values and principles that enable your organization to work effectively cross-culturally. These written guidelines and policies should cover organizational behaviors, attitudes, policies, structures, etc.
  • Integrate People of Color into your organization in a way that is both systematic and organic. People of Color should be represented in your organization, not just as front line staff but also, for example, as Board officers, on your leadership team, as program directors, project coordinators, and as key stakeholders. A note of caution - make sure that the People of Color you recruit are rooted in the communities you serve;
  • Establish and nurture relationships with cultural connectors in the communities you intend to serve; these connectors may be individuals or organizations, and will sometimes hold what to your organization may seem non-traditional leadership roles in their communities.
Taking these three steps will get you started down the right path. It may not always be easy, but at the end, the entire community will be better for it. If you want to read more, click the link below to read a PDF report from the Guido Caldarazzo Cultural Consortium, an advisory group to the Marion County Children and Families Commission

Asset Champions for Cultural Proficiency

Are Teens in Marion County Ready for the Future?

According to data available from the State of Oregon, Marion County is leading in the number of pregnancies among teens, at nearly double that of the entire State from 2005-2007. Latinos are disproportionately represented in these statistics as are teens living in NE Salem and Woodburn, Oregon.

Research shows that teen mothers, when compared to mothers who delay their first child until 20-21 years old, are likelier to live in poverty and drop out of school; their children are also likelier to be premature, do poorly in school, be sexually active at a younger age, and (for boys) spend time in prison or (for girls) become teen mothers themselves; teen fathers are also likelier to earn less, have a lower education, and in 80% of cases, NOT marry the mother of their first child.

What about some solutions? We've learned from teens in Marion County that there is a great need to improve critical thinking skills among youth. Many youth simply think that it will not happen to them [becoming a teen parent], and many lack a basic understanding of cause/effect [consequences of their actions]. We've also found that both teens and parents want to communicate with each other about sex and relationships, but neither group knows how to start the conversation.

A community based approach to dealing with this challenge, is to: (1) Improve parent-child communication; (2) Improve resources and opportunities for youth; (3) delay onset of sexual activity among young people; (4) Reduce numbers of sexual partners among youth.

For more information, email Levi Herrera about what Mano a Mano is doing around this issue.

For more information, visit the Marion County Children and Families Commission website.