By Norma Gallegos Valles
Latino Academy of Workforce Development
Cristina started her GED in the spring of 2016. While she was working toward obtaining her degree, she decided to join the Puentes (Bridges) program, a pathway to a technical career at Madison College. She completed both programs in the fall of 2016 and is now studying to become a paralegal assistant and medical interpreter at Madison College. “I want others to know that there is a possibility of a better future,” she said.
Pamela is a working mother; she has worked different jobs in the last couple years, from childcare to administrative positions. She arrived to Latino Academy looking for a different career opportunity. Pamela joined the Commercial Driver’s License program this summer. She wanted to get her class B license to look for an alternative career that would pay her a family-sustaining wage. Pamela was the first CDL female graduate, and she is ready to start a new career pathway in transportation. Latino Academy is excited to connect Pamela to a better employment opportunity, especially in a field where women are underrepresented.
Latino Academy of Workforce Development is a community-based organization in Madison. Our mission is to educate and train underserved Latinos in Dane County ensuring family-sustaining wages and career pathways for generations to come.
Our education programs range from English as a Second Language (ESL) and computer literacy to Spanish GED and Puentes (Bridges), a college prep program. Training programs vary from one or two day safety training programs — such as OSHA 10 (Spanish) — to programs that last from six or eight weeks — such as the Bilingual Construction Program, and Bilingual Commercial Driver’s License Program.
Latino Academy believes in the importance of creating spaces and programs that empower women and support them in entering underrepresented fields like transportation and construction. Every woman should have access to programs and tools that support them in building a successful career, whether behind the wheel or at a law firm.
Thanks to the generosity of Fund for Women, Latino Academy will be able to expand these opportunities for more women in Dane County. Approximately, 60 percent of our Spanish GED students are female, a majority of them working mothers. We understand the difficulties of being a parent and wanting to continue higher education or training for better employment.
Latino Academy is unique in the services it offers to reduce challenges. Some of the most important ones are: free childcare, intensive case management, career planning and assessment, general resources and employment placement.
We see stories like Cristina’s and Pamela’s in every classroom and every training program — hard working people, mothers and fathers, who are ready to take an opportunity that will prepare them to thrive in their community.
Whether it’s education or training, the Latino Academy creates a safe space through its culturally competent programming that empowers Latinos to succeed. Our unique “education through community” approach allow us to respond to the educational and training needs in our community, while encouraging students to return to Latino Academy as instructors and volunteers to be able to give back to the community.