Deborah Castillero of Bright by Text On Using Technology To Close The Education Gap In The Wake Of COVID-19


By Matthew Loughran, Social Impact Entrepreneur at Midtown West - September 22, 2021

According to the National Research Center On Hispanic Children and Families, Latino child poverty rose During the COVID-19 pandemic, especially among children in immigrant families. The study uncovered “the economic impact of the pandemic fell especially heavily on Latino children in immigrant families, from 2019 to 2020, poverty rates increased by 6.1 percentage points”. The economic disparity among low-income families has traditionally been correlated to also show a lack of access to resources for education and healthcare. 

As part of our COVID-19 resilience series, we sat down with Deborah Castillero, Chief Growth Officer of Bright by Text, a non-profit organization providing a national, bilingual texting service that supports parents and caregivers through the early childhood years.  

Share with us a little bit about your background and what inspired you to join Bright by Text? 

Throughout my career, I’ve straddled both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. I’ve worked in entertainment, I’ve run celebrity foundations and I’ve launched a few tech startups. With my entrepreneurial spirit, I’m driven by purpose and want to solve important problems. 

Bright by Text is similar to a tech startup delivering a SAAS solution to empower all parents with young children. Kids don’t come with instructions and as a parent myself, knowing how hard it is, Bright by Text is truly a powerful tool to give parents helpful tips to help them in their parenting journey. As a Latina and having done a lot of work in the Hispanic market, I was really excited about this opportunity to bring our bilingual text service to more Latino families throughout the US and Puerto Rico.

Can you share with us a bit about the Bright by Text mission and why the Non-Profit was founded? 

25+ years ago Bright Beginnings was founded by Brad Butler, former Chairman of Procter & Gamble, and Roy Romer, then Governor, CO. It started off as a home visiting program delivering important information to new parents in Colorado. In 2017, we pivoted to a national, bilingual text messaging service designed to help build parental competence, confidence, and connection to local resources. We understand parents are super busy and that kids don’t come with instructions so we push out curated evidence-based text messages in English and Spanish timed to the exact age of the child. We also point parents to free and local resources. 

It seems like this is filling a major gap for parents, can you share how you currently reach individuals for your free service? 

English-speaking parents hear about our trusted content through our partnering PBS stations and Spanish-speaking parents through Vme Media. We also work with 80+ organizations throughout the country like LA Public Library, Head Start California, and multiple United Ways who use our bilingual texting service to inform parents about free and local resources based upon the family’s zip code. For example, our partners inform parents about health fairs, library resources, and free events for little ones, all via text.

I know a focus is to close the divide in accessing educational resources for those who only speak Spanish — can you share how Bright by Text is accomplishing this?

We actually just finished producing a :30 commercial in Spanish for distribution on Vme’s 3 broadcasting networks to expand our reach to Latino families; we’ve launched two new social media handles en español, @Ninos Brillantes on Facebook and Instagram; all of our marketing materials are bilingual and our public relations efforts and media buys focus Spanish language media and reach Spanish-speaking parents.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted so many communities especially those in low income and those of color –  can you share how Bright by Text has responded to assist these communities?

That’s the beauty of cell phone technology; it is unbiased, ubiquitous, and with our free service, available to any parent in the US.  On the content side, we’re working with Embrace Race, an organization that helps parents understand how to discuss issues related to race with their children. On the community engagement side, our nonprofit partners use our text messaging service to help parents enroll their children for preschool, attend literacy parent workshops, where find local food banks and diaper banks, where they can get vaccinated, where to find mental health and WIC clinics, and other essential services.

How can organizations get involved with Bright by Text to further this amazing mission?

We partner with nonprofits and government organizations that have evidence-based content focused on pregnancy, early childhood milestones, literacy, social-emotional development, health, safety and wellness, and parenting, and nonprofits that are focused on providing free and critical needs resources to improve the lives of families and young children locally.  Any org that wants to use text messaging to connect more directly with families can have access to our technology solution.

What is the best way for people to connect?

Brightbytext.org has a lot of information about what we do, ways for parents to sign up for our free texting service in English and Spanish, and for potential partners to learn more about our technology solution. Parents can also text PARENT to 274 448 to sign up today. You can also find us on social media platforms

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