Siempre Juntos (Forever Juntos)

Based on the experiences of educators and Juntos coordinators around the country and on best practices in strategic and sustainability planning, the North Carolina State University Juntos development team created a sustainability guide for communities implementing Juntos. This publication provides an overview of the guide and provides tips for creating Juntos programs that will last.

Siempre Juntos (Forever Juntos) Extension team creates playbook for building the strength and securing the future of Latinx student and family support program

By Diana Urieta (with Heather Martin)


Siempre Juntos (Forever Juntos): Extension team creates playbook for building the strength and securing the future of Latinx student and family support program

Copyright © Extension Foundation Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Published by Extension Foundation.

ISBN: 978-1-955687-19-5

Publish Date: 10/04/2022

Citations for this publication may be made using the following:

Urieta, D. Kansas City: Extension Foundation (2022). Siempre Juntos (Forever Juntos): Extension Team Creates Playbook for Building the Strength and Securing the Future of Latinx Student and Family Support Program (1 st ed). ISBN: 978-1-955687-19-5

Producer: Ashley S. Griffin

Peer Review Coordinator: Rose Hayden-Smith

Technical Implementer and Co-writer: Heather Martin

Welcome to Siempre Juntos (Forever Juntos): Extension team creates playbook for building the strength and securing the future of Latinx student and family support program , a resource created for the Cooperative Extension Service and published by the Extension Foundation. We welcome feedback and suggested resources for this publication, which could be included in any subsequent versions. This work is supported by New Technologies for Agriculture Extension grant no. 2020-41595-30123 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

For more information please contact:

Extension Foundation c/o Bryan Cave LLP One Kansas City Place

1200 Main Street, Suite 3800 Kansas City, MO 64105-2122



Diana Urieta, MSW

Dr. Patrick Greene

Principal Greene Central High School Greene County, North Carolina

Juntos Senior Director/Co-Developer Juntos Extension Specialist North Carolina State University

Holly Ellwanger

Hope Derry

Juntos Coordinator Catawba County, North Carolina

J untos C oordinator Bladen County, North Carolina


During the height of the COVID-19 shutdowns, an alarming number

of Latinx male students at Greene Central High School in Greene

County, North Carolina, were dropping out to get jobs. Nationally, Latinx high school students already have a lower graduation rate than their white counterparts (see “The Juntos Advantage” infographic), and the school’s principal— the conveniently named Patrick Greene — knew the issue in his school could escalate if it wasn ’t addressed quickly. So in 2021, Greene launched a Juntos 4-H program to help his Hispanic students and their families prioritize staying in school and develop the skills to navigate the educational system. Juntos, which comes from the Spanish word for “together,” is a n Extension 4-H program that gives Latinx students and their families the knowledge, skills, resources, and connections to ensure high school graduation and increase college access and attendance rates.


Greene says that Juntos — which originated at North Carolina State University (NCSU) — is already having a positive effect on the engagement levels of his school’s Hispanic population — which in turn has had a positive effect on him: “This is my favorite work,” he says. “I put down other stuff to work on this.” That kind of dedication is one of the keys to keeping a Juntos program strong. Doctor Greene — who was named North Carol ina’s principal of the year in 2022 and wrote about his Juntos program in his dissertation — sees Juntos as a long- term solution to, not a short-term bandage for, the challenges Hispanic students face. His vision for his Latinx students is what is sustaining and strengthening Greene County Juntos. Based on the work of educators like Greene as well as on the experiences of Juntos coordinators around the country and on best practices in strategic and sustainability planning, the NCSU Juntos development team has created a sustainability guide for communities implementing Juntos. The guide, which is available from the NCSU Juntos office, recommends a five-step process for creating more sustainable Juntos programs. Here is an overview of the guide, along with tips for creating Juntos programs that will last, from four North Carolina Juntos champions, Patrick Greene, along with Holly Ellwanger, Juntos coordinator from Catawba County; Genevieve (Genny) Merlos-Pulley, Juntos coordinator from Sampson Early College High School in Clinton; and Hope Derry, Juntos coordinator and migrant education teacher for Bladen County.

Holly Ellwanger

“Creating a sustainability

committee has to be an evolving process. We’ve had a Juntos program in Catawba for almost seven years and we had done a lot of work to build a broad support network — through the community college, Extension, and the school system. And within one six-month period, we lost several points of connection because people left their positions. So we had to rebuild our committee — and we focused on building the relationship with the organization, not just a person. You need to have deeper roots in your partner organizations.”


Dr. Patrick Greene

“One of the things I didn’t expect was

to find a group of community partners who were willing to donate things like food for our Juntos family dinners — and expect nothing in return. They believe in what we're doing because they see it as a really cost-effective solution to the dropout problem among Hispanic students. If you can promote the economic value as well as the social value of the program, I think you’re more likely to get broader support from partners.”


In this step, Juntos coordinators, with the support of Extension educators, assemble a group of people who are in a position (because of personal or professional resources and influence) to help develop in-kind support, advocacy, and actual dollars for Juntos. The guide provides strategies for choosing the right members for this committee (from local employers to educators to individual donors and foundations) and how to ask them to participate and keep them engaged.



The most successful Juntos efforts are those that have goals in common with the people they serve, so not every Juntos program will — or should — have the same vision for sustaining the work. The needs of the Latinx students and families in a particular community should shape what their Juntos leaders are doing with the program. Many of those needs will be evident in data available from agencies and organizations that are monitoring and analyzing such things as educational access and outcomes among Hispanics. The

sustainability guide walks Juntos leaders through the kinds of data available as well as through questions they should be asking themselves about their current and future participants.

Hope Derry

”One of the assets of the Juntos program in our county is the Juntos elective at Tar Heel Middle School. I decided I wanted to develop the course so that I could meet with our Juntos students every day. Once I aligned the curriculum with North Carolina state standards, I was able to meet with and receive support from school administrators. Our program strives to overcome as many barriers to participation as possible — and we have had several tactics for doing that. In the past, our 4H office and club members have been able to help with childcare during workshop sessions. We have also tried to accommodate students who do not drive yet by providing busses to attend after-school club events. And in general, we try to schedule workshop times that are conducive to our families' various work schedules. ”


Knowing the strengths and assets of an existing Juntos program is key to creating a viable sustainability plan. In step three, the guide explains the importance of evaluating current funding and partners in order to know where the gaps are. This is also the step in which a Juntos team should determine if there are similar programs in the community — programs that might provide opportunities to build strength and resources through partnerships.



The work in steps one, two, and three informs the work in step four: creating a strategy, with measurable objectives, for ensuring the success of Juntos. This part of the

sustainability guide is packed with methods and materials to help Juntos teams set priorities, determine focused goals and tactics, establish a budget, and write a realistic flexible action plan that will keep the strategic plan from gathering dust in a drawer. Flexibility in the COVID-19 era is particularly important, as trends like “the Great Resignation” can affect such things as sustainability committee membership and other partnerships.



This part of the guide provides resources and best practices for Juntos teams to hold themselves accountable to their strategic vision — by keeping an eye on metrics and by communicating regularly with the sustainability committee, funders, and other partners.

El Impacto de Juntos (The Impact of Juntos)

Over the past 15 years, Juntos evaluation has evolved to indicate that Latino students who participate in Juntos graduate from high school at a higher rate than students who don’t participate. The data also show that a majority enroll in higher education and that their families have a clearer vision for how to support their students through this journey. The program is narrowing the achievement gap between Latino students and white students. Because Juntos engages parents in the program, there’s evidence that families have become more involved in their children’s edu cational success and feel an increased sense of belonging in their communities and in their children’s schools. In fact, parents who participated in the 2020 -2021 Juntos program reported a 10 to 15 percentage point decrease in anxiety about going to their child’s school or talking to their child’s teacher, as a result of participating in the program. There is even more hard data that indicates that Juntos is meeting these two primary program objectives for students:

to increase Latino student success by improving student attendance and grades and achieving high school graduation to increase the percentage of Latino students entering higher education

Among the more than 500 students the Juntos Program has served since 2019, there has been an increase in grade point averages, high school graduation rates, commitment to post-secondary education, and confidence in their ability to plan for their careers.

Sources: EdNC, My Future NC, Excelencia in Education


A Collaborative Effort

These sustainability steps don’t have to be completed one right after the other — as a Juntos program may not always have capacity or resources for a particular step at a particular time. But just being aware of the framework can help a Juntos team make more effective decisions about how they manage and develop their program. Local Extension Juntos teams should remember that they don’t have to build their program in a vacuum. Sustainability can be very daunting — but by its very definition, Juntos is about walking with others on this journey. Our families walk their children’s academic path through our family nights and 4-H experiences, which build their confidence in the educational system, empower them to use their voices in their communities, and strengthen their communication with their child. Likewise, each Juntos team should walk with and leverage local Extension personnel, community investors, Juntos coordinators, and the national Juntos community.


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