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Bilingual workshops invest in Latino success

The Arriba program encompasses various topics, including business and health, all taught in Spanish.
Camino Health Center
The Arriba program encompasses various topics, including business and health, all taught in Spanish.

Five Mecklenburg County nonprofit organizations will receive social justice and racial equity grants through the Duke Energy Foundation. One of the recipients, Charlotte’s Camino Health Center, aims to uplift Latino community members through a bilingual workforce development program.

Camino's public relations manager, Paola Garcia, said the center’s programs are developed based on community feedback.

“We are a people-first but data-driven organization,” she said. “So, all of our programs and services are in place because the people that we serve have directly told us, this is what we need.”

That’s how the educational topics are chosen for Arriba, or “upward,” a workshop series launched this year that seeks to break down barriers to Latino success. The program is one of 40 statewide that was chosen to receive a $25,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation.

Other grant recipients in Mecklenburg County were the Carolina Youth Coalition, International House of Metrolina, Race Matters for Juvenile Justice and Year Up.

“Some of the [Arriba] programs include workforce development and English as a second language classes,” Garcia said. “We're helping Latinos learn how to start their businesses, learn how to manage their businesses. We are helping with learning how to balance checkbooks.”

Enrollment has been driven by word of mouth, and right now, demand is high. One reason, she said, is because there are no other programs like it that are taught in Spanish.

Camino also held its first entrepreneur fair last month, with 22 Latino business owners invited to sell their products at the Camino campus on Stetson Drive.

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Kayla Young is a Report for America corps member covering issues involving race, equity, and immigration for WFAE and La Noticia, an independent Spanish-language news organization based in Charlotte. Major support for WFAE's Race & Equity Team comes from Novant Health and Wells Fargo.