The Oregon College Access Challenge Grant provides schools, districts, colleges, universities, and community-based non-profit organizations opportunities to serve youth in their college-going dreams. Today's blog post features a currently-funded community based organization.
On Tuesday, March 13th, Catholic Charities’ El Programa Hispano had the honor of graduating its first class from the Juntos para una mejor educación (Together for a Better Education) program at David Douglas high school in East Portland. This six-week course teaches Latino high school students and their parents about the importance of graduating high school and pursuing a post-secondary education. After graduating from the Juntos program, parents have said: “Because of my participation in the Juntos program, I feel better able to ask for help for my child.” and “I feel better able to find information to help my child get to college.” El Programa Hispano is currently offering Juntos at Reynolds high school and will offer another class to Latino students and families at Centennial high school in the coming weeks.
|Juntos Graduates from David Douglas High School|
El Programa Hispano strongly believes that programs such as Juntos are essential to the advancement of the Latino community in Multnomah County. With the support of the College Access Challenge Grant, we have been able to significantly expand our youth services with the Advancing Latino Academic Success (ALAS) Program by adding not only Juntos but also Sígueme (Follow Me). Sígueme is an all day event in which Latino students from Portland State University’s La Casa Latina mentor Latino high school students at the college campus. During Sígueme, our students participate in admission and financial aid workshops in the morning and spend the afternoon touring the campus and spending one-on-one time with current Latino college students. El Programa Hispano greatly appreciates our partnership with La Casa Latina, and we hope to be able to sustain the Sígueme program in the years to come. Perhaps one day our current high school students can serve as Sígueme mentors, not only at Portland State University but at other colleges and universities throughout Oregon!
The CACG has also helped us develop our capacity to offer Latino college fairs. The first of two college fairs took place on March 3rd at Floyd Light Middle School in East Portland. Latino families from as far as Seaside, OR attended the fair to meet with bilingual and bicultural representatives from eleven local colleges and universities including, George Fox University, Lewis & Clark College, Linfield College, Mt. Hood Community College, Oregon State University, Portland State University, Reed College, University of Oregon, University of Portland, Warner PacificCollege and Western Oregon University. Each of these colleges and universities generously offered free t-shirts, water bottles, banners, and jackets as prizes to give families during the fair. Families also participated in a financial aid workshop offered in Spanish, which addressed issues related to financial assistance for undocumented students. In addition, local Latino leaders participated in an inspiring panel discussion about their experiences of successfully navigating the college admission process in spite of coming from low-income and mixed-immigration status families. El Programa Hispano greatly appreciates the food donations from local restaurants Baja Fresh and ¿Por qué no?, which fed approximately 50 families participating in the fair.
|College fair panelists|
Overall, the CACG has given El Programa Hispano a wonderful opportunity to start creating a strong college and career going culture within the Latino community. The results of our work have indeed lived up to the expectation that ¡Si se puede!