The Ladder of Success

By Angelica Serrano, Blue Future Spring for Progress and Change organizer

I first heard of Blue Future from a mentor who works at the McCormick Foundation here in Chicago, here word of mouth is big because it’s all about an organization’s reputation based on its success and influence. I knew that although Blue Future was fairly young, one day it’s going to have a huge impact on both youth and policy here in the U.S. Blue Future’s program offered mentorship and resources that helped define and sharpen my qualities to grow into a better organizer and advocate for both my community and my people. It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized the impact of organizing for policy reform and how much ordinary people like me played a role.

The biggest factor for reform in the Latino and African American community is simply education: access to it and encouragement towards it. I did a project during my sophomore year of college. My piece was called The Ladder of Success, it was an actual ladder with three levels. The bottom step represented a high school degree, the second step represented enrollment into college, and the final step represented a bachelor’s degree. The next component was that it split into two sides, on one side it represented Latinx youth, and on the other side, it represented white youth in the education system. Next, I added nine candles on each side, which was a ratio I obtained from the census of each population in Chicago.

We, the audience, followed these eighteen students for the next few years and compared the rates. I chose to compare Latinx degree rates to white rates based on the huge gaps in educational success. The results, for Latinx students the first step had eight out of the nine candles lit, the second had three out of nine lit, and the third had one out of nine lit. For whites, the first step had eight out of nine lit, the second had six out of nine lit, and the third had six out of nine lit.

Knowing this vital information, we could use these numbers and processes to figure out what this looks like in other cities and find solutions to help encourage and keep minorities in College to get them towards a degree. Only with research, support, and mentorship, we can find long-term methods to help high school students. I wanted to work with Blue Future because of its impeccable reputation and growing influence that has and will continue to have.

Research, support, and mentorship were all qualities that the Blue Future Spring for Progress and Change program offered and ultimately took me out of Covid’s aftermath slump and motivated me back into action. I chose Blue Future because despite your background experience, socioeconomic status, and/or political accomplishments it gives youth the courage and knowledge to unlock their potential and amplify their voice.

About Angelica: Angelica Serrano (she/her/hers) was raised on the South-West sides of Chicago with a strong connection to her Colombian and Puerto Rican roots. While growing up in Chicago, a melting pot of identities, cultures, and races, she realized that it simultaneously was one of the most segregated cities. She experienced the stark reality of underserved communities, predominantly black and brown, and was inspired to advocate for policy that focuses on access to quality education and healthcare. As a Blue Future participant, Angelica hopes to sharpen her advocacy skills to grow, inspire, and share with her Latinx and LGBTQIA+ communities.

Blue Future is building a diverse youth movement that will inspire, mobilize and invest in young people to organize for a brighter tomorrow.