Dallas organization teaches Latinas to care for themselves, families.
This is the first in a series of articles designed to highlight Latinas and the support networks that are helping the Hispanic Community in Dallas, Texas. We often think of not-for-profit organizations as outside the realm of business because what they produce cannot always be measured in stock valuations or return on revenue. What we hope to highlight in these articles is the strategy, execution and impact that is being made by social entrepreneurs.
When Aidee Granados developed breast cancer she started noticing things.
First, she noticed that what she ate mattered. But then she noticed that companies like KFC and Doritos were proudly displaying the pink ribbons associated with their support for breast cancer research. What was that about, she wondered.
She also noticed that there were no programs in the United States for helping Latinas with cancer to eat right, stay positive and exercise. None that she found anyway.
So, Aidee decided to start her own program dedicated to helping Latinas prevent cancer. But no pink ribbons for her. Her program would be branded with the color RED. She called it Rosa Es Rojo. What she wanted to teach Latinas was that they had the power to change.
“Red is a more powerful color,” Aidee said recently. “I wanted that color associated with what we were doing.”
Today, Aidee and Laura Mendivil, who joined the organization a year ago, manage the not-for-profit, Rosa es Rojo (Pink is Red) in Dallas, Texas.
Aideé moved to DFW from Mexico City in 2012 following her husband and his job. She brought along her daughter and a Master of Arts degree in Education from Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico. She started a first certification program as a health coach after her cancer diagnosis in 2013 and then did a second certification in New York which she finished last year.
As a cancer survivor herself, she also lost her grandmother, mother, father and stepmom to cancer. Aidee is living with cancer but when asked how long she has been cancer-free, she says this: “It depends on when you start counting. My husband and I count cancer free days from the day I was diagnosed. That makes it 6 years.”
Aidee wanted to share her experience as a health coach more broadly. She wanted to teach other Latinas to SuperVive—not merely survive. So, The Rojo Way program was born.
Rosa es Rojo, Inc. was incorporated as not for profit in 2016. But until 2018, Laura and Aidee were both working full time and trying to build Rosa es Rojo. Laura was a grant writing consultant and worked also in a micro-loan company. Aidee was bootstrapping the operation and taking care of her daughter.
In 2018, however, she and Aidee joined the United Way of Dallas’ accelerated program for companies (both not for profit and profit) that want to make a social impact. The program is called Social Innovation Acceleration –formerly known as Ground Floor. Laura calls the program “groundbreaking.” It helped her with mentorships, consulting and to build the capacity that she needed.
However, like most business startups, Laura and Aidee had to begin generating revenue. With the help of mentors and some consulting from United Way both in Dallas and Fort Worth, (The Tarrant Country program is call Kernel), they have grown contributions 10 times in 9 months and expanded relationships to organizations such as hospitals, clinics and other non-profit organizations.
Of the over 600 Latinas who have gone through the program, 3 are standouts for Aidee and Laura.
Leticia, a mom of 4 daughters who has lived in the US for 20 years speaks no English. The first time she attended the workshop, Aidee said, “Leticia told me that she was depressed.” Letitica graduated from the Roja Way last December and just this week told Aidee that she no longer needs medication to manage her moods.
See Leticia’s video.
Lesley is a cancer patient. About 15% of the program attendees are cancer patients referred to The RojoWay by local hospitals and doctors(and other nonprofits). Lesley is a single mom of 2 daughters and does not speak fluent English. She is going through cancer treatment and changing her habits, creating a new way of life for herself and her daughters.
Susanais the mother of 7 children. Susana is a leader in the community and has personally helped Rosa Es Rojo train at least 40 Latinas in the Bachman Lake area of Dallas. Because the program teaches women how to be empowered, Susanna has taken that to heart and arranged to get married to the father of her children.
For all the work they do, theorganization is being recognized. Recently, the 3-year old organization won this year’s D Magazine CEO editors and Communities Foundation of Texas award for best nonprofit in the under $99,000 category.
“I was asked recently by someone at a local group I was speaking to ‘why women,’” said Aidee. Like the World Bank and United Nations, Aidee explained that she knows that change in a community, both economic and cultural, begins with women.
Both Aidee and Laura are living the example of how to extend this learning to their families. They are both teaching The Rojo Wayto their daughters, Maria Andrea Knuth 10, and Eliana Guzman, 5. They are learning that they are powerful.