Spotlight Nonprofit: Giving hope to Latinos who want to go to college

LatinaLista — The word “esperanza” means hope in Spanish. Today, in this troubling economy, it’s hard for people to have hope if they don’t have good job prospects. And to get a good job, one needs an education.

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Unfortunately, too many Latino families live paycheck to paycheck. The notion of paying an ever increasing college tuition is just not a reality for these families. Yet for Latino families in Cleveland, Ohio, there is Esperanza.

Esperanza has been promoting educational opportunities for the local Latino community since 1983. The thinking is that if local youth are helped with scholarships to attend college then, at the same time, they can be groomed as leaders to return and help their communities.

To that end, Esperanza has several programs geared to leadership, technical training and education:

The Stay in School for College and Career Opportunities (SISCO) Program focuses on middle school students and SISCO II concentrates on high school students. Both aim to reduce the drop-out rate among Hispanic students through tutoring, enrichment and motivation.

Esperanza’s Latina Leadership Alliance (ELLA) and Latino Leaders for an Outstanding Society (ELLOS) are gender-specific programs for teens that brings groups of young men and women together with Hispanic leaders to encourage personal and professional development. Each group allows students to discuss issues relevant to them while considering solutions to community and family challenges.

Community Computer Resource and Technology Center enhances the academic and computer skills of young people attending school and improves computer literacy for adults for their personal enjoyment and job readiness. It provides a free-access location and free classes year-round for youth and adults.

But Esperanza doesn’t just help young people go to college, it’s now helping their parents attend as well. Starting last year, adults were among the many scholarship recipients.

But no matter their ages, young or young-at-heart, all of the students have one thing in common — hope for a better future.

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