School may be out for summer recess, but the Somos (We Are) Mayfair office is bustling with activity as staff, Promotores, and volunteers move full
steam ahead to provide summer and year-long programming to low-income families and children in Mayfair.

Mayfair is a historical low-income community of migrant farm workers and community organizers like Cesar Chavez. Today, Mayfair continues to attract waves of new immigrants – including Mexicans, Central Americans, and South East Asians – for construction and service work that steams from the technology boom in Silicon Valley.

In Mayfair, 41% of adults do not have a high school diploma, and only 10% are college graduates. It is no secret that this gap has a direct correlation to the future earnings – and poverty level – of Mayfair residents. Given this connection, parents know that education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty and through civic engagement are setting the foundation to eliminate the opportunity gap faced by their children.

Since 1997, Somos Mayfair (Somos) has worked in the Mayfair district of East San Jose to address the multiple needs
of the low-income community. In 2012, Somos changed its service provision strategy by complementing traditional direct services with community building for broader impact. Their Promotor (peer education) Model – a promising best practice – was born out of this transition.

Mobile Library w Kids

Mayfair children checking out books from one of the mobile libraries in town

This year, Promotores are using their collective power to promote early school success by reinforcing positive community norms and policies. This work is done at kitchen tables, in garages, at schools, and public spaces throughout the community. Mayfair Promotores will engage over 300 families through the following community formed programs:

  • Reading Circles: Every week, over 60 community residents gather in neighbors’ homes to read with their children.
  • Mobile Libraries: Throughout the year, two mobile libraries (books on wheels) are stationed in the homes of Mayfair Promotores so that children have access to free books.
  • EMPUJE (Push): Every week, a group of 20 parents meet to discuss how local schools and the District can promote parent engagement and close the widening opportunity gap. Collectively, they engage over 100 Mayfair residents in advocacy efforts. Their initial work resulted in the passage of a district-wide language access, translation, and interpretation policy, and the placement of a bi-lingual community liaison at Cesar Chavez Elementary School.
  • Bridge to Kinder (BTK) Summer Program: Every August, over 150 children and parents participate in the BTK Summer Program. While children receive instruction from Alum Rock teachers on social motor skills and kinder academics, parents learn how to support their children’s educational journey through positive parenting and literacy activities.

How You Can Help: For the past two years, Somos has provided our Bridge to Kinder participants with a backpack filled with school supplies. The gift is presented to students at their graduation in mid-August. This year, we are looking to our corporate partners to help with a Back-To-School Drive so that our incoming kindergartners have the supplies needed to start the school year right. If you would like more information or are interested in helping, please contact Jessica Paz-Cedillos at

Jessica Paz-CedillosJessica was raised in the Tassafaronga Housing Projects of East Oakland by a single mother and knows first hand the impact that thoughtful and caring individuals can make to end the cycle of poverty. Since graduating from Mount Holyoke College, Jessica has held various positions as a direct service provider and fundraiser to protect our constitutional rights, end homelessness, and close the opportunity gap. As Somos’ Director of Resource Development, Jessica is excited to continue the fight for social justice and equity.


To learn more about Microsoft’s commitment to youth and education, visit our YouthSpark Hub or follow us on twitter at @msftcitizenship.