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Centro Hispano receives more than $150,000 in funding from nation’s largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization

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Staff and volunteers at Centro Hispano

Centro Hispano of Dane County has been awarded over $150,000 in grants for its programs from national funder UnidosUS, the nonprofit announced on Thursday afternoon. UnidosUS, previously known as NCLR (National Council of La Raza), is the nation’s largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization.

“We are incredibly proud to partner with UnidosUS especially at this critical time in our country,” Karen Menendez Coller, executive director for Centro Hispano of Dane County, tells Madison365. “Young people deserve programming that supports them holistically – academically yes, but more so centers on youth well-being and is grounded in youth voice. These funds will allow us to deepen the work that we are already so honored to do at Centro alongside young people and our families.”

All grant awards are grounded in evidence-based research, according to a press release from Centro, and include a curriculum that will be implemented by Centro staff.

Grant awards include:

● $50,500 Latinos in Finance grant funded through Wells Fargo will support Centro’s Caminos Finance Program. Caminos Finance is a 10-week career pathway training program offered in partnership with Madison College and community banks and credit unions.  The program helps participants gain the skills and experience necessary to begin careers in the finance sector.

● $35,000 CASA Code grant award will bolster Centro’s Juventud ProgramJuventud is an afterschool and summer program offered at four Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) middle schools. Funding from the CASA Code grant will be used to support experiential learning and project-based activities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

● $20,000 award will help Centro pilot Early Escalera for a cohort of 25 9th grade students over the next two years. Early Escalera will complement Centro’s Escalera Program for high school students which has been in existence for over 10 years. The program affirms and validates students to be college and career ready, civically engaged, financially capable, and critically conscious to become change agents and advocates for equity in all spaces.

● $20,000 grant will support Centro’s Escalera Program currently offered at East, West and LaFolette high schools. Escalera seeks to promote educational attainment, career planning and access to information for Latinos that will lead to upward economic mobility. The program has seen 100% of its participants graduate from high school in the last 5 years.

● $25,000 Avanzado Through College award will help Centro provide support to 30 college freshman or sophomores. The goal of Avanzado is to equip students with the skills, information, and support systems needed to identify student services, improve academic performance, transfer to a four-year college (if applicable), and graduate.