“We want to make sure that our students have the support and tools they need to be successful, and this was another big step,” says Baltazar De Anda Santana. “This is going to support the economic development of our students, our community, and the whole Dane County. This is a win for everybody. I just want to make sure that everybody knows that this is just not a win for the students at Latino Academy, this is a win for everybody who lives in Dane County.”

De Anda Santana was referencing the Latino Academy of Workforce Development’s press conference and ribbon-cutting ceremony on Dec. 12 at the Sunshine Place in Sun Prairie to unveil a new semi-trailer truck at that will be a great asset for the Latino Academy’s CDL Class A program. With this semi-trailer truck, the Latino Academy will be able to increase its training and transportation employment placements in Dane County.

“Starting in the month of January, we are going to be providing the CDL Class A program in the community,” De Anda-Santana tells Madison365. “The Latino Academy, for the last four years, has been providing CDL Class B commercial drivers’ license. That license is good to a point, but if you want to get the good-paying jobs, you need the CDL Class A. You can practically drive everything. That’s why we created this Transportation Academy.”

The purchase of this semi-trailer truck was possible thanks to the financial support of the Community Development Block Grant of Dane County. In addition to unveiling the truck, the Latino Academy announced the creation of the Transportation Academy.

“We want to make sure that our students utilize this to get good, family-supporting jobs – jobs that are paying $25-$35 an hour with good benefits,” De Anda-Santana says. “At the end of the day, how do we economically advance as a community? This will help so much.”

“We have a student who worked for 14 years at McDonald’s and he was never albe to get more than $14 an hour at that job. I think that’s a big injustice so we are happy to offer the type of training that we will have at the Transportation Academy,” he adds. “Right now, that very same student is working in the highway department making more than $25 an hour.  We are so happy that he is able to make more money to support his family.”

Dr. Ruben Anthony speaks at Latino Academy of Workforce Development’s press conference and ribbon-cutting ceremony on Dec. 12 at the Sunshine Place in Sun Prairie. (Photo by Hedi Lamarr Photography)


In addition to De Anda-Santana, speakers at the event included Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and Urban League of Greater Madison President and CEO Dr. Ruben Anthony.

“Today is a wonderful day to celebrate the expansion of the Latino Academy of Workforce Development and their capacity to provide CDL training in this community,” Anthony told the crowd at the press conference. “This has been a great opportunity to celebrate new careers with Dane County. I think this truck – this trailer – will create more opportunities for this program to deliver.

“The Latino Academy of Workforce Development has done great work in this area and I’m excited about what’s to come,” Anthony added. “I’m excited that they’ve decided to come to Sun Prairie because I know that Mayor [Paul] Esser and the folks here will welcome them here. We look forward to great things happening.”

County Executive Joe Parisi
(Photo by Hedi Lamarr Photography)

Other speakers at the press conference/ribbon-cutting included Margarita Avila, Director of Workforce Development for the Latino Academy of Workforce Development, Manuel Serrano, Highway Department Dane County employee & Latino Academy
Student representation, Jeff Lemirande Lycon, Inc., Joanna Cervantes, Sunshine Place Executive Director, and Pedro Ruiz, Office of Economic and Workforce Development Dane County.

Representatives were in attendance from Dane County, United Way of Dane County, City of Madison, Sunshine Place, Department of Workforce Development, Lycon, Inc. and the Urban League of Greater Madison.

 In addition to unveiling the truck, the Latino Academy announced the expansion of the Latino Academy to the Sunshine Place in Sun Prairie.  De Anda Santana says that he believes that the community will also greatly benefit from the Latino Academy’s brand-new expansion into Sun Prairie, which has far less resources compared to Madison.

Margarita Avila, the new director of workforce development.Photo by Hedi Lamarr Photography

“We are happy to be partnering with the Sunshine Place there,” he says. “We hear all the time how there is a gap between Sun Prairie and Madison. We wanted to expand the Latino Academy to Sun Prairie three years ago and it didn’t happen back then. I don’t think we were ready.

“Now we’re going to be able to serve more folks who live in Sun Prairie, folks who live in Waunakee, Marshal, DeForest and all of those areas, too.  I believe that we need to go where the community is,” he adds. “The community is in Sun Prairie. I don’t want the community to come to us; I want us to go to the community. I think this expansion into Sun Prairie was a logical and important step.”