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Grants fund services for Latino community
By Chris Barnett / January 22, 2016 /   Loading Disqus...
Six nonprofit organizations that serve the Latino community will share $6,450 in grants from the Rhode Island Foundation through the Juanita Sánchez Community Fund, established in memory of the late Latina activist.

The Fund was created in 1992 through the contributions of Sánchez’ friends and family members who wished to memorialize her life as a leader, organizer and long-time believer in fighting for the unmet needs and rights of Latinos. To date, the fund has awarded nearly $110,000 in grants.

Beat the Streets Providence received $1,450 to launch a combined wrestling program at Calcutt Middle School and Segue Institute for Learning in Central Falls. The funds will be used to buy wrestling shoes for 50 students.

“This is not only an incentive to attend practices, and thus attend school, but also provides our students with an opportunity to see that through their hard work they can earn the things that they want. Wrestling is a hook to provide them with academic support, strong mentoring, healthy physical activity, and incentives to succeed in school,” said Billy Watterson, executive director.

Beat the Streets Providence is a nonprofit that starts co-educational wrestling teams in order to inspire at-risk youth and provide them with the support they need to succeed on and off the mat. Now in its third year, the organization runs wrestling and education programs at 13 sites in greater Providence.

Community Preparatory School received $1,500 to fund scholarships for three Latino girls. Located in Providence, the independent middle school serves about 150, generally low-income students in grades three through eight. Ninety-two percent of the students receive substantial financial aid.

“Most of our students are at-risk because of the economic conditions that they face. Breaking the cycle of poverty lies in the availability of quality education within a safe and nurturing environment ,” said Dan Corley, Head of School.

Fuerza Laboral of Central Falls received $1,200 to develop an educational program on workplace sexual harassment designed for Latina women. The program will serve approximately 30 women, most of whom immigrated to the United States.

“The women who come to us with cases of sex or labor abuse will benefit by being connected through Fuerza to a community of workers who not only know their rights, but will also fight together to protect those rights, in solidarity with each other,” said Heiny Maldonado, executive director.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving of Providence received $500 for victim services, public awareness, youth and adult educational opportunities and on-going support to the Latino community. The goal is to serve more than 1,000 Latinos.

“Volunteers from the Latino community will provide one-on-one support and service, teach classes and help craft and lead initiatives and public awareness events within their community; have youth programs run through the schools and community organizations like Progreso Latino to bring our programs directly to the audience,” said Eric Creamer, executive director.

Smart Test of Providence received $800 for its Strengthening Families Through Music and Language program, which offers English classes to parents of Latino students who attend the Music School IDLC at Providence’s Multi-Service Center for All Centro. Parents will be taught English at the same time and location that their children are taking free music lessons.

“Many parents speak only Spanish. By improving their English, parents can help their children in school and be more comfortable requesting the assistance and resources that they may need,” said Ming Shen, executive director.

Southside Community Land Trust (SCLT) of Providence received $1,500 to expand its nutrition outreach activities in South Providence, Olneyville and the West End. The Providence-based nonprofit will hire 12 local high school students who have demonstrated an interest in food and social justice issues to promote nearby farmers markets, distribute bilingual flyers, participate in community presentations and offer culturally relevant, healthy cooking demonstrations.

"Twelve urban farmers grow fresh food on SCLT farms in Providence. They sell specialty ethnic vegetables at three local farmers markets. When we ask our neighbors if they are shopping at the markets, we hear they need more information about dates, locations and available products. This grant will help us to provide that information, connect people with fresh food, and improve diets and health outcomes - all while supporting our local urban farmers,” said Margaret DeVos, executive director.

The Juanita Sánchez Community Fund is guided by an advisory committee comprised of Marta V. Martínez, Michele Cortez Harkins, Tony Sánchez and Tia Ristaino-Siegel. Supporters can donate to fund on-line on the Foundation’s website. The deadline to apply for the next round of funding is Sept. 30.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2014, the Foundation awarded more than $34.8 million in grants to organizations addressing the state's most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.
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