Nonprofit Con Mi Madre set to open new tech center in South Austin

Posted July 14th, 2017

Teresa Granillo has long desired a space where her nonprofit, Con Mi Madre, could reach more of the underprivileged Hispanic girls it seeks to serve.

She imagined a location at the heart of the girls’ communities that would include the technology resources crucial to her mission.

Granillo no longer has to wait.

With the aid of Internet giant Google, Con Mi Madre’s new technology center in South Austin will be dedicated on Saturday. The center will expand operations for the nonprofit, which helps low-income Hispanic girls prepare for college.

The 3,000-square-foot center, opening on 4175 Freidrich Lane, will include 16 computer stations, a reading center and conference room. It will also replace Con Mi Madre’s headquarters at the University of Texas’ School of Social Work, where it has been for about 25 years.

"This is for all of the mother and daughters we serve," said Granillo, Con Mi Madre’s executive director. "It's a community center in our mind. It allows us to be closer to these families."

Con Mi Madre, Spanish for “with my mother,” has a simple mission: Help get low-income Hispanic girls into college.

Michael Barnes/American-StatesmanTeresa Granilla is executive director of Con Mi Madre.

The nonprofit does this through workshops, counseling and access to resources like computers. Most significantly, it gets students’ mothers involved in the process.

As of 2014, 15 percent of Hispanics age 25-29 acquired a bachelor’s degree, a rate that lags behind other ethnic groups, according to the Pew Research Center. Hispanics are also less likely than other groups to enroll in four-year colleges, the center found.

At its UT center, Con Mi Madre has grown to serve more than 750 mother-daughter “teams,” with 100 percent of students graduating high school, 80 percent enrolling in postsecondary education and 54 percent completing college, according to Granillo.

But the location has also been limiting, Granillo said. It was not close to the majority of families the nonprofit serves, as most live in Southeast Austin.

“One of the things we were struggling with is access to us and our services,” Granillo said. “UT has been fantastic. But one downside was that at UT, some of our families had a hard time with transportation, and they couldn't park on campus.”

Con Mi Madre has established a relationship with Google through various events and coding workshops the internet giant has supported, Granillo said. She said she reached out to local Google officials for funding, and it worked.

Google is funding most of the roughly $70,000 cost to rent the new center for a year, as well as to pay for equipment. The other donors are Walter Penn, senior vice president of investments at Wealth Advisory Services of Raymond James, and Rodney Bustamante, owner of Austin Absolute Realty.

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, Austin City Council member Delia Garza and local Google executive Gerardo Interiano are expected to be at the 9 a.m. dedication. All have previously supported Con Mi Madre through volunteer work or other means.

“We're so excited to see Con Mi Madre’s vision come to life,” Interiano, head of external affairs for Google’s southwest region, said in a written statement. “This tech lab will provide a space for young Latinas and their mothers to learn, grow and inspire other members of the Austin community."

Google is expected to continue offering coding workshops at the new center, Granillo said.

From July 19-22, the nonprofit will host a leadership summit in Austin with Project MALE, a similar organization tailored for male Hispanic students.

Con Mi Madre recently expanded its efforts into Hays County schools. This fall, it plans to begin a center in El Paso that will initially start with 90 mother-daughter teams. It is also looking at possible locations in Fort Worth, Corpus Christi and Phoenix, Arizona, all areas with a significant Hispanic population.

"Our focus is building leadership through resiliency," Granillo said. "It's helping these young women of color develop leadership skills to address any kind of adversity they have."