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Pipeline builds new partnership with Latinos Progresando

Latinos Progresando in Little Village

This summer, the National Center for Urban Education will launch a new partnership with Latinos Progresando, a community-based organization in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood.

Latinos Progresando is joining North River Commission in Albany Park, The Resurrection Project in Pilsen, Breakthrough Urban Ministries in East Garfield Park, and the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation in the collective work of Illinois State University’s Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline’s (CTEP) educational initiatives and programs.

Latinos Progresando started as a community-based organization providing naturalization and immigration legal services to families in the Little Village community of Chicago. Little Village, also known as La Villita, resides in the formal neighborhood of South Lawndale in the southwest side of Chicago. It contains one of the largest Mexican-American family populations in the city. According to their website, in their 20 years of service, they have served thousands of families from over 40 different countries around the world.

While Latinos Progresando began as a naturalization agency, they have expanded their programmatic work to include educational initiatives that will benefit the Little Village community in their surrounding schools. Since the inception of the organization, they began a theater program, Teatro Americano, which provides opportunities to Little Village youth and young adults to write, produce, and perform their own plays based on their immigrant experience.

“We have been working to highlight the successes,” said Chief Operations Officer Marcy Gonzalez. Participants are encouraged to interview community members, family, and staff for inspiration. “We are a strong and resilient community and we want to make sure that we highlight those attributes.”

In addition, Latinos Progresando is one of the lead agencies that started the Marshall Square Resource Network eight years ago. The organization saw a need to build a strong referral system for the community members based on the existing organizations that were within walking distance of Little Village residents. Gonzalez explained, “This area is rich with resources and we wanted to make sure everyone had the information they needed.” Currently, the Marshall Square Resource Network is comprised of 45 organizations that have offices in Little Village and 30 organizations that provide services to the area, regardless of where their space is in the city.

Latinos Progresando’s key issue areas are education, peace, capacity building for organizations, and housing. The education committee is unique in that it consists of all principals from surrounding neighborhood schools. “We wanted to have a space where they can come together, share what’s going on in their community, and how all of them as a whole are working towards finding support for their needs. We, as a lead agency for the network, need to know how we can help with connecting them to the parts of the network that will help fulfill their needs,” said Gonzalez.

Ana Mosqueda joins Latinos Progresando

Joining the CTEP team as well is Ana Mosqueda, who will serve as CTEP’s liaison with Latinos Progresando. Mosqueda will be joining the collective efforts of the other four neighborhood partners in planning student clinical visits, faculty visits, and professional development for teacher candidates while connecting community, university, and schools in efforts to build resilient educators.

“The presence of a university in a place like La Villita is a powerful thing for the students who go to neighborhood schools,” expressed Mosqueda. “It backs up the school’s and community’s belief that they really believe in the students.” Mosqueda was a resident of Little Village when she was a child and personally understands the challenges and successes that youth experience in their daily life as residents of the neighborhood.

Gonzalez was also a resident of Little Village as a child. Her mother currently still lives in Little Village, two blocks away from the Latinos Progresando offices. “I grew up here, as a young adult I worked here, and now I’m a full-grown adult, and I get to work in the place I grew up in,” Gonzalez reflected. For Gonzalez, it is special that she gets to work professionally in the neighborhood that saw her grow up. She hopes that through CTEP’s goals of recruiting youth to become teachers, they too can return to Little Village to live and work there. “You don’t’ have to go somewhere else! This is home—and there’s a place for you here, too!” she said.

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