In 1995, Univision Television Group, along with Communities In Schools, Inc. (CIS), established a broadcast mentoring initiative that enables Univision employees to play an active, positive role in the lives of young Hispanic students nationwide. Univision Television Group is a television company whose programming is geared towards the Hispanic community. The Univision Television Group/CIS Broadcasting Mentoring Initiative started in Los Angeles, and initially engaged 30 students from two area high schools in mentoring activities with a corresponding number of Univision KMEX employees. San Antonio Univision KWEX followed suit in 1996, and Miami’s WLTV joined the initiative in 1997. Since then, Dallas and Houston Univision stations have further expanded the program. For Univision, the program represents an opportunity to personalize its involvement with the young lives that the company is already likely to have influenced through its programming.
Univision’s partner in the initiative, Communities In Schools, Inc., helps communities integrate and coordinate their existing resources to make a real, measurable difference in the lives of youth. CIS forms support teams and partnerships with a wide array of community resources, such as human service agencies, nonprofit organizations, and businesses, bringing community support into schools to help underserved youth learn and graduate. Locally incorporated nonprofit CIS programs coordinate the activities of all sites through which these teams and partnerships operate in the community. These independent CIS programs comprise a network that serves nearly 175,000 young people and their families each year.
The purpose of the Univision/CIS Mentoring Initiative is to provide an opportunity for Univision employees to mentor CIS students, and conversely, to enable young people to connect with community role models. The specific youth-centered goals of the program are to provide positive role models for the involved students, encourage school attendance and achievement, and build the students’ self-esteem. Twice a month, the students visit the television stations for two hours. The mentors, 90 total throughout the five participating stations, and students determine a large portion of the activities that occur during these visits. CIS provides intensive pre-service and ongoing guidance and training to give participants an adequate foundation of skills and knowledge from which to base their planning. The activities that mainly take place include one-on-one discussions, group discussions, occupational skill development, and special seminars.
The program is valuable to both the students and adults involved. For the youth, it enables them to become connected with a successful member of the community, set realistic goals, and learn life and work skills. Univision Television Group employees have become more involved with, and attuned to the communities they serve, made a difference in the lives of young people, and enhanced a sense of community and connection among Hispanic- Americans and Hispanic individuals living in the United States.