Friday, June 21, 2013

A Revolultion? Sounds a little lofty, doesn't it?

I have written a few times in various places that Advocate Latino's goal is to revolutionize the way school districts communicate with Latinos and other English learners in the United States. In many school districts, the communication with Latino parents is scattered, chaotic, or nonexistent. There is usually no order to the communication, just people running around, calling at the last minute or not at all, doing the best they can with the system or lack of system that exists.

We think schools can do better.

When I call schools to let them know about our company, people seem to jump to conclusions about what we are. They think we are expensive interpreters, overpriced translators, a useless software company, or maybe a non-profit service. We are none of these. We are a liaison company for schools that do not have the means to hire their own liaison at this point.

We do the following:

1. Provide a 1-800 number that parents (and teachers/administrators) can call anytime with questions or concerns. They can speak English or Spanish with Ary, who takes the calls. If there is no answer, a message can be left, and Ary will call back as soon as possible. THIS NUMBER SHOULD NOT BE USED FOR MEDICAL EMERGENCIES.

2. Create, manage, update, and promote a functional website for Latino parents that includes our phone number and documents we have translated (or documents that school districts send to us that have already been translated). Read more about why our websites are useful for Latinos here. Most school district websites are not useful for Latino parents.

3. Make unlimited two party and three party calls. We don't charge by the hour or by the minute. Interpreting can cost up to $40 per hour. Many times an interpreter is not necessary, but a message needs to get to the parents. For example, we recently called four parents to make sure they sent a form back to school with their children. All of the children brought them the next day. The teacher didn't have to worry about the forms and the parents were happy to know that someone went through the trouble to call them about their children. If something is forgotten by any party, another call can be made with no extra charges.

4. Translate simple documents (permission forms, notices about testing, notices about meetings or events, etc.). We don't charge by the word or page. It's part of the package.

5. Help fill out school forms.

6. Conduct meetings/conferences using FaceTime with no extra charges.

7. Conduct monthly Check In calls and send reports to teachers.

We come at it from the perspective of an ESL teacher. Translating and interpreting companies don't understand the unique needs of school districts. They also don't understand the limitations of school budgets. They are also not there when you need them. We estimate that a school district can use our services for 20% of what they would pay a liaison who they would hire. If a school district uses us, it doesn't need to go through the hiring process, pay workers' compensation, or pay health insurance. If the population of Latinos decreases, it doesn't need to reduce FTE or lay anybody off. Sometimes it is difficult to find qualified people who are willing to work part-time hours. Also, we already have a communication system ready to go, so there is no need to wait for a liaison to learn how to create a webpage or run a database.

Why does Advocate Latino say it is starting a revolution?

If a (small) school district signs up with us, it will be giving Latino parents and students much more than what a large district offers its students. We are also doing it for a fraction of the price of anything comparable.

Join the revolution today! Everyone starts with a free month of service. There is no credit card or deposit required.

Like us on Facebook if you believe in us!

Call me at 715-821-0116 if you have any questions.

Eric Goodman
Owner and Founder of Advocate Latino, LLC

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