Gratitude, Obstacles, Connections, Innovation: Intercambio and the new normal

A lot has changed since COVID has transformed our world, and I wanted to share about gratitude, obstacles, connections and innovation at Intercambio.

 

Gratitude

Lots of people have demonstrated fierce commitment to keep Intercambio strong when connection and community are needed now more than ever.

Our one fundraiser of the year, Comedy for Cambio was cancelled,  but many donors stepped up to help us meet our goal and we are super appreciative. If you haven’t given yet, you can still help Intercambio continue to innovate and create connections well into the future!

And we received our federal PPP loan. So we are on solid ground financially for now, but we anticipate major hurdles with revenue for the next year because

  1. many donors have given now in place of their year-end gift and
  2. our curriculum sales which were on pace to bring in 25% of our revenue have taken a big hit,

We are preparing our new budget that starts in July according to these ongoing challenges.

 

Obstacles

For Intercambio staff, March was emotionally brutal.  We made fast and tough decisions to significantly cut expenses knowing that long-term revenue challenges lie ahead. The cuts were painful, but we feel confident that now our team is focused and the right size to be financially sustainable in this new world.

Another obstacle is the impact on our national program. Revenue from selling our new Confidence and Connections curriculum was on pace to double revenue from last year, but now that growth is on pause as nobody is holding face-to-face classes, and even our national partners who want books for their virtual classes have difficulty distributing them. I’ll talk about innovative solutions for that in a minute.

 

Connections

We are reaching out more than ever, personally, to our immigrant students. We are calling hundreds of them to make them feel heard, emotionally supported and connecting them to the right community resources, regardless of their status. Having resources available is half the equation. Making sure that those who need those resources know about them and access them is the other half. We’ve built relationships and trust with thousands of immigrants over two decades, and this is an important gap that Intercambio is filling.

And during a deadly outbreak, ability to communicate with doctors and nurses could be a matter of life and death, so the motivation to improve English is still there. This week, around 70 of our students and 6 teachers began group classes using Zoom, and dozens of our 1-on-1 classes are still meeting consistently online.  We are excited to pilot, learn, adjust, and grow this program.

 

Innovation

Our amazing staff is flexing their creative muscles and creating new trainings, videos and tools for teachers, students and administrators nationwide. Hundreds of people are attending our new live webinars and taking advantage of this education to improve teaching and program quality.

We are also exploring ways to share our model, our curriculum, trainings and system for matching volunteers with students to a new digital nationwide platform. This could foster thousands of new connections and generate new revenue sources for Intercambio.  We want to put our curriculum to use as much as possible, because it makes it easy for volunteers in person or online to provide effective, practical classes where students and teachers share cultural perspectives, form deep connections, and improve our ability to communicate.

In summary, I’m grateful to work with incredible staff, board, volunteers, students, partners and donors who are super committed to our purpose.  Together, we are overcoming obstacles, remaining connected, and innovating like never before.

Because of you, we continue bridging language and cultural divides to keep us connected for life.

We’ll get through this and emerge even stronger thanks to your amazing support over the years and our resilient community!

Check out the video below to learn more: