Making content about education relevant and engaging to young Hispanic audiences


I came to Stanford interested in exploring how to make content related to education accessible and engaging to Spanish-speaking Hispanic audiences. I wanted to tackle both form and content.

After participating in a workshop organized by the Graduate School of Education and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school) that focused on diverse families and the use of technology as an education tool, I set out to conduct empathy interviews applying the user-centric approach. I became a volunteer interpreter at a school in Pescadero, Calif., where Hispanic parents working in agriculture need help communicating with the teachers in their kids’ school. Those sessions helped me understand the issues of language and cultural disconnect parents and students face. I spoke with social workers in organizations helping Hispanic students prepare for college. I went to an organization in East Palo Alto that prepares students for college and talked with high school students from low-income backgrounds who would be the first members of their families to attend college. I wanted to understand the community’s information needs, as well as how and when that content is being consumed.

Hispanics account for 17 percent of the U.S. population today and in a few years will grow to be about one third of the people living in this country. Most of these Hispanics are young, in some states 2 out of 4 students in public schools are Hispanic. This demographic is also number one in high school dropout rates and has the lowest college graduation rate.

Based on my research, I decided to concentrate my efforts on the “C” students, the ones at risk of dropping out of high school or not applying to college. This target audience spends a lot of time on their phones, mostly using social media and watching videos. They don’t like to be lectured and they respond well when they identify with the messenger (i.e. someone who is like them).

I am proposing to launch a series of short videos of Hispanic students sharing their stories of persistence, resilience and resourcefulness in successfully navigating the college process. I think the best way to engage young Hispanics is by inspiring them through stories of other young people like them who managed to make it and stay in college. The interviews will focus on how these students found solutions to the obstacles they faced and will be produced by a crew of students. With the goal of reaching an audience by speaking their language. The videos will be produced with social media sharing — Facebook, Instagram, YouTube — in mind.

Some of the students interviewed for this project are shown below:

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