精東影業 Affiliate: Multicultural Career Intern Program

精東影業 Affiliate: Multicultural Career Intern Program

In the vibrant heart of Washington, DC, a dynamic spirit of learning and achievement ignites the Multicultural Career Intern Program (MCIP) corridors. More than just a family, MCIP has cultivated an entire community鈥攁 tapestry woven from its members鈥 diverse voices, backgrounds, and experiences. In this bustling hub of ambition and collaboration, individuals unite in a shared pursuit of academic excellence and personal growth.

MCIP is where dreams take flight, barriers are shattered, and lives are transformed for the betterment of oneself and the uplifting of all touched by its profound influence. Welcome to MCIP, where the journey of discovery knows no bounds. 鈥淥ur focus is on preparing young people to succeed in academics and to be leaders in their community,鈥 says Maria Tukeva, MCIP Founder. 鈥淭his also means becoming leaders in the quest for social justice, and we do this through providing them with educational experiences that help them become designers of their future,鈥 she adds.

The year was 1979 when a beacon of hope first emerged on the educational horizon 鈥 the inception of MCIP. Founded with a noble purpose, MCIP aimed to cater to the overlooked potentials of promising students, many of whom hailed from low-income backgrounds and belonged to linguistic minority groups. 鈥淔rom the beginning, we had a long-standing commitment to college and career success for not only Latino young people but all young people of color and that as a school and its associated foundation, they were and are today our number one priority,鈥 she says. Yet, Tukeva saw that these bright minds were slipping through the crevices of the 精東影業 America 路 Spring 2024 16efficient model where the school does instructional services during the day. MCIP does enhanced and extended instructional services after school through the evening. Our efficiency benefits every student because we have different grants that complement what the school does. It perfectly complements the instructional vision and the idea of 100% college attendance preparation and resilience. If college is not attainable, we endeavor 100% career viability, so no child is left behind.鈥 conventional public schooling system or had already been discarded from its confines. Maria identified many factors contributing to this educational exodus: an absence of cultural and linguistic sensitivity, systemic apathy, and a deficiency in teacher training and support. Moreover, low expectations existed for student achievement, inadequate curricular offerings, and a heavy reliance on punitive measures like suspensions and expulsions.

Maria saw a better way, and so did the community that joined her. To combat this educational injustice, they embarked on a journey over three decades ago, initially welcoming 40 students who had either been pushed out or had willingly dropped out of the District of Columbia public schools. By the close of a decade, in 1989, MCIP had blossomed into a full-fledged alternative school, serving a daily cohort of 600 students. This marked the genesis of BMHS 鈥 Bell Multicultural High School 鈥 born from the merger of MCIP鈥檚 core instructional program with the Bell Career Development Center.

Despite many challenges, MCIP surged forward, adapting its methodologies to meet the evolving needs of the BMHS student body. A significant milestone was reached in 2008 with the merger of BMHS and Lincoln Multicultural Middle School, giving rise to the Columbia Heights Educational Campus (CHEC), a groundbreaking institution spanning grades 6 through 12 鈥 a first in Washington D.C. history.

Along the way, Kapindi Kroma joined MCIP and helped Maria and the leadership team expand services to fulfill the mission. Today, he serves as Executive Director of MCIP. 鈥淥ur programs are run as an efficient model where the school does instructional services during the day. MCIP does enhanced and extended instructional services after school through the evening. Our efficiency benefits every student because we have different grants that complement what the school does. It perfectly complements the instructional vision and the idea of 100% college attendance preparation and resilience. If college is not attainable, we endeavor 100% career viability, so no child is left behind.鈥

For Maria and Kapindi today, inclusiveness at MCIP is more than just a word. 鈥淥ne thing that we realized when students returned from the pandemic was that engagement was never what we wanted it to be,鈥 says Maria. 鈥淎fter the pandemic, it was even more challenging, and students had decided to do other things. So, we realized we had to change how we were doing things. We needed to know what they wanted, so we鈥檝e focused on student voice and choice over the past two years. We are incorporating what students wish to do in everything from the cafeteria food to the curriculum to how we do the master schedule for the day.鈥

Kapindi echoes those sentiments and speaks of the strength that comes from a united effort. 鈥淰oice and choice are powerful, and the MCIP board has always had student representation. Our bylaws call for at least three student representatives. Now, the school is incorporating that voice and choice philosophy into its strategies and structures. We instill in all of our students that if they take the work seriously, there is nothing that they can鈥檛 do. This belief is why we have a delinquency intervention program plus targeted literacy intervention. During the school day, we ask struggling students to come to one-on-one sessions where they can counsel and instruct so they know we care and we鈥檙e here to help them succeed.鈥

This union has broadened MCIP鈥檚 outreach and diversified its efforts to encompass middle school education. Today, MCIP stands as a beacon of educational equity, offering myriad evidence-based instructional and support services to bridge the achievement gap for the 1400 students and families comprising CHEC. MCIP continues to pave the path toward a brighter future for all through unwavering dedication and innovative approaches.

鈥淚t is wonderful that 精東影業 recognizes MCIP, but mostly because that鈥檚 how we started,鈥 recalls Maria fondly. 鈥淲e would not be here if it weren鈥檛 for 精東影業. We go back to 1979 when I first worked on the proposal for the school with a team of people from 精東影業. Seeing how far this initiative has gone and can continue for many years is exciting and personally rewarding to experience,鈥 she adds.

Kapindi speaks of the ambitious opportunities beyond the horizon that MCIP is also working to realize. 鈥淲e are on a journey to create the nation鈥檚 first youth-run community development corporation, or CDC, where students come to school and learn the tools to solve problems within their community. Their education is no longer something that they must wait ten years to start applying. Now, reading makes sense, and math makes sense. So do negotiation debates and understanding contracts. All these types of things are relevant and important right now. When we create the CDC, it will be student led and a component to really refining public education that rarely ever changes.鈥

What does Maria see ahead? The path is promising for her and closely linked to those who will help shape it. 鈥淚 see us becoming even more of a youth-oriented agency where we incorporate youth voices, not just like a little committee here and there, but everywhere because they are our future. I see us as an organization incorporating them into everything we do and create for tomorrow. What we can achieve is limitless and exciting.鈥

精東影業 Affiliate: Casa San Jose

精東影業 Affiliate: Casa San Jose

In Pittsburgh, a city steeped in the history of America鈥檚 industrial boom and change, a new collective of voices is being heard. The sound is different, reflecting a tapestry of fresh cultural experiences, and its source is Casa San Jose. There, Latino families and individuals are coming together and creating an opportunity to infuse Pittsburg with a new vitality for the future.

Established in 2013 by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden, Casa San Jose was born out of a deep-seated commitment to uplift and empower the region鈥檚 burgeoning Latino population. The richly faceted social services agency embodies the resilience and empowerment that define the organization鈥檚 mission.

Monica Ruiz, Executive Director of Casa San Jose in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, readily acknowledges the challenges and growth of the Latino community. She states, 鈥淚 think that for us here in Pittsburgh, PA, Latinos are less than 2% of the population, but we have grown more than 80% in the last ten years. Before, Latinos came for work and then left to return to their homes, returning seasonally. But then, they began to settle here and stayed to raise their families.鈥

As the city witnessed an influx of newcomers, Casa San Jose emerged as a lifeline, filling in the gaps for services that the community desperately needed but were unavailable. Monica鈥檚 vision extended beyond immediate aid; she aimed to create bridges within institutions and processes that have seen little change in decades.

Monica laments, recounting the countless instances where community members were stranded because of a lack of linguistic support in crucial institutions. 鈥淟anguage access remains a significant barrier,鈥 Ruiz states. 鈥淟anguage access must be our greatest barrier at present. You go into a city or county office, and they have nothing in Spanish for residents. Even healthcare services lack language and cultural accessibility. For example, we only have two Spanish-speaking pediatricians,鈥 she says.

The organization鈥檚 staff reflects the community they serve. Ruiz notes, 鈥淲e have a staff of 27, and out of these individuals, maybe six or seven were born here in the United States. Everyone else is from somewhere else or has received services from us. Their lived experience is invaluable as they now help others. We have a great mix of people,鈥 Monica beams, highlighting their shared experiences as immigrants and their dedication to the cause.

鈥淐asa San Jose fills gaps in services for the community,鈥 Ruiz emphasizes. 鈥淗owever, we want people to acquire the skills and knowledge to learn how to navigate the services themselves in this city. This is a very complex process, but we鈥檙e building resiliency within folks as they experience success,鈥 she adds.

Casa San Jose is a resource hub for Latino immigrants seeking assistance and guidance from weekly clinics and food pantries to Know Your Rights sessions and summer camps. Its comprehensive programs encompass social services, emergency aid, community advocacy, English language classes, mental health support, housing assistance, and specialized programs for children with autism.

As importantly, Casa San Jose champions amplifying inclusion at every level within the larger community, ensuring that the voices of those they serve are heard and elevated. 鈥淩epresentation is essential,鈥 emphasizes Monica. Particularly important is pushing for inclusivity in decision-making processes in programs and services that impact the Latino population. Ruiz explains, 鈥淩epresentation means having people with a voice and viewpoint authentic to the issue or need we are addressing in our city.鈥

One central area of focus of Casa San Jose is working with local youths through several of the organization鈥檚 programs: J贸venes Con Prop贸sito fosters a vibrant community of Latino youth, championing immigrant rights and igniting social change. With a firm belief in the current leadership of today鈥檚 youth, the program meets weekly during the academic year, nurturing empowerment and activism.

Puentes Hacia el Futuro, tailored for ages 6-14, cultivates cultural identity and leadership skills through trust-building activities, discussions, and educational pursuits, preparing youth for a dynamic future blending Latino and American cultures.

Campamento Sonrisa offers an enriching summer experience for youths aged 7-14, blending education, outdoor adventures, and sports. Participants enjoy nutritious meals throughout the structured camp, including breakfast, lunch, and snacks. The elementary session runs from June to July, while the middle school session spans from mid-July to August, providing an inclusive opportunity for all applicants at no cost.

Casa San Jose serves multi-generational families in tangible, practical ways every day. For its stakeholders, it is both about the here and now and the future of the Latino comunidad. 鈥淲e are learning from other larger cities with decades of experience working within significantly bigger Latino populations,鈥 says Ruiz. 鈥淎t the same time, I hope that we can offer smaller communities near and around us an example of how to build resilience and help our people not just survive but thrive for years to come,鈥 she adds.

Leading with Power in Our Nation鈥檚 Capital

Leading with Power in Our Nation鈥檚 Capital

Mission of Love Opens the Way Through Service

Every successful organization has a driving force behind it. At Mission of Love Charities located in Capitol Heights, Maryland, just minutes from the nation鈥檚 center of political power, that catalyst is Deborah 鈥淒eb鈥 Martinez. Yet, this seasoned community advocate known by a who鈥檚 who of Washington leaders quickly credits her parents when asked about the source of her positivity and energy. She adds that they instilled in her pride in her identity, a fearlessness in life, and the constant determination to make every moment count.

鈥淓ach of us has something good to contribute, and I believe that when we find that purpose in our lives, we have the duty and the joy to share it with the people we can help through our actions, our words, and our support,鈥 says Martinez. 鈥淚n my case, my mother worked hard and sacrificed for her children so that we could go to college. She held several government jobs so we could attend Howard University tuition-free. She told us if you want to go somewhere else, you pay for it, but I am who I am today, in part, because I attended Howard and appreciate what my mother did for us.鈥
That upbringing has shaped Martinez鈥檚 vision for the work she does leading Mission of Love Charities. The organization offers various services and delivers vital everyday social assistance to the community throughout the immediate region. From rent and utility assistance to job training and workforce development, Martinez says the role of the Mission of Love Charities is to help people in practical ways that recognize the challenges they are facing.

鈥淒uring the pandemic, our students cannot always access the internet, which impacts them disproportionately,鈥 says Martinez. 鈥淪o, if helping a family with their internet service is needed, we try to be there to ensure that the children can stay connected to their educational lifeline. It is that real and immediate. Or, if I meet a young person who needs a job sooner rather than later, I encourage them to consider a trade or a program like Certified Nursing Assistant because CNAs are in high demand due to COVID. We don鈥檛 believe every person has to incur massive college debt to become employable in a good-paying job and be successful. However, I also encourage people to stay curious, learn everything they can every day, and read a book as often as possible. Whether it is the Bible or some other book that interests you like Before the Mayflower, the point is to stay open to improving yourself as a person.鈥

That can-do spirit of looking for genuine, practical, and immediate solutions is what Martinez teaches her staff. The Mission of Love Charities team meets weekly, and Martinez says people make the gatherings uplifting and more successful because of the respect and interpersonal relations. 鈥淭his is not home; we are a place of business, and it is important to keep our work separate from our personal lives. Still, our goal is to make each other feel appreciated, listened to, and that we are all working towards making our jobs better and more effective for the people who rely on us.鈥
Mission of Love Charities stays in constant communication with state, county, and local leaders who seek Martinez鈥檚 and her team鈥檚 input on local issues impacting the increasingly diverse community. Whether working-class Latino, Black, Caucasian, or more recently, Afghani and Central American immigrants in need, the problems they need help with require that the agency partner with many different individuals and organizations. The starting point may be learning English, but their needs grow exponentially, and no one organization has all the solutions.

鈥淲ithout partnering, the civil rights movement would not have happened,鈥 reminds Martinez. 鈥淲e would not be here as an organization without partnering, and after the last four years, we are better today because we are partnering now, so I think that looking back and blaming the past administration and grieving all that is a waste of time. We are blessed to be here now and need to focus on where to go from here. This fact becomes abundantly clear when you travel to see what conditions are like in other countries. Also, when people complain to me about their situation, I tell them change starts with education, and if we do not do that for ourselves, we have no one else to blame. Also, we need to become informed and stay engaged in our civic duty to vote in the mid-terms, which are just as important as elections during presidential election years. So too, in working with our school systems, even if we don鈥檛 like everything they are doing, we must stay involved in what is happening to our children in the public schools.鈥
Martinez says Mission of Love Charities will soon be relocating into a newer facility. Seven will be dedicated to education training, the lifeline for participants seeking to make a significant change in their lives. She adds that among her education goals is to continue mentoring women to strive for leadership roles and says the non-profit sector has served to open many doors for women to succeed. 鈥淭his is an exciting time in my life because I am ready and eager to pass on the knowledge and what I have learned over the years to the next generation woman who wants to lead a community-based organization. The notion of giving back to our community is something that my mother instilled in me, and when I am ready to step away, what will give me the peace of mind needed will be knowing that I did it the right way, preparing a successor who can step in,鈥 she said.

Numerous awards affirm that Mission of Love Charities is getting the job done and doing it right. The organization has been recognized as one of the Essence Essential Heroes. Also, the agency was selected among the nation鈥檚 Top 100 by Charity Navigator. Plus, its work was profiled by the ABC7 Helping Hands series and received the Community Crisis Service鈥檚 Hero Award. Even CNN featured Missions of Love Charities during nationwide coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic鈥檚 impact. Martinez concludes by saying that she owes her success and Mission of Love Charities to her board of directors and its chairperson. They support and endorse the daily decisions she has to make in running the organization. 鈥淭hey agree with me nine times out of ten and work hard to help find the money for us to carry out our programs. This is all I could ask for, and without them, we would not be where we are today. I accept this recognition from 精東影業 on behalf of all the men and women who work tirelessly every day to keep doing the
work of Mission of Love Charities. As the name says, what we do for others is not for gain for ourselves but an expression of our love for others,鈥 she adds.

Reaching Out to Help Opportunity Youth: CSS Forges a Success Story in Chicago

Reaching Out to Help Opportunity Youth: CSS Forges a Success Story in Chicago

It takes authentic passion and compassion about serving communities to make transformative change in places like Little Village, a popular neighborhood located in the heart of Chicago, Illinois. Its more than 90,000 residents, primarily immigrants, is where Central States 精東影業 (CSS) is making a dramatic impact, especially among opportunity youth ages 16-24. The term is used in describing young men and women who dropped out of school, are unemployed or underemployed, and need individualized wrap-around services to prepare for today鈥檚 workforce. Chicago鈥檚 gang activity is massive and very prevalent in Little Village, inevitably touching the lives of every resident. CSS youth staff are intimately knowledgeable in serving this particular population. Indeed, this is the setting where the team at CSS makes it their life鈥檚 mission to see beyond the person sitting in front of them today and instead envision how 精東影業 can transform their futures.

鈥淭heir work revolves around the people facing challenging situations every day,鈥 says Manuela M. Zarate, Vice-President and Chief Operations Officer of 精東影業 Metro Detroit (SMD). 鈥淲e all realize that we share many of the same beliefs and commitments to serving our community. For us, making an impact in the neighborhoods is being right where the people are; being where they live and work, so they see you every day, not in remote executive offices on State Street or Michigan Avenue in Downtown Chicago. CSS is embedded in communities like Little Village or reaching across Greater Chicago, Cook and Kane Counties, and the State of Illinois at large. CSS and 精東影業CO in Illinois offer a wide range of services for youth and adults of all ages. These include after-school tutoring and mentoring, GED, vocational and pre-apprenticeship training; in partnership with Apple, we offer Coding and STEM, among many other services. 精東影業CO in Illinois is the South Suburban American Jobs Center operator in North Riverside, Il, and a training partner of the Kane County Workforce Board in Aurora, Il. We are essentially among the people we serve,鈥 she adds. For Zarate, that same clear focus of purpose continues to be a hallmark of her career and understanding of what it means to help an individual who walks into a 精東影業 site today. 鈥淚 say to our staff, always look at the person that鈥檚 coming in for a service with care and respect. That鈥檚 the only way you鈥檙e going to be able to assess their needs 鈥 by caring truly. You have to make sure that we not only look at the immediate needs, but how can we open additional opportunities for that person? The answer may come, not just through the person sitting in front of you; rather, it may be that we need to help the family to address other, underlying challenges they are facing,鈥 she adds.

The Little Village team at 精東影業 is focused on outreach and education within one of America鈥檚 most diverse inner-city neighborhoods in the Midwest. Team members attribute the successes of CSS to understanding firsthand what residents need and the services that can help address those needs. 鈥淎s servant leaders and role models, we have to remember who our customers are and what they expect from us. This purpose is why we are here and entrusted with public funding. This work is how we meet our responsibilities,鈥 says Zarate.

Zarate says CSS and 精東影業CO in Illinois have achieved respect for consistently meeting and exceeding the benchmarks of program performance. Its stakeholder partners include the State of Illinois, the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, the City of Chicago, the Illinois Department of Human Services, the Kane County Workforce Board, and many other governmental agencies, foundations, and philanthropists. 鈥淲e have to be accountable to them while at the same time remembering that the most important measures of our work are the results that we see in the people we serve,鈥 she adds.

Zarate cites one example of that holistic approach to community service that now includes offering more than 100 different social service programs and services across a broad spectrum. 鈥淲e have one particular program that transformed our service delivery model through a grant we received back in 2008 to start the Center for Working Families.

The project is a financial education program that acts as an umbrella incorporating financial literacy and education, income supports, and workforce development into every service and program we offer. These services are available to the community at large. In this program, we take a deep dive into the participant鈥檚 financial needs and explore additional economic supports they might need. We then qualify our participants for the most suitable services: financial aid, public support, and a comprehensive financial education package offered in partnership with partner financial institutions while working towards their self-sufficiency. The goal is to help them through transformative change that breaks a socio-economic cycle so they can become self-sustaining long-term.鈥

Zarate and the CSS leadership team share another passion readily apparent to anyone who speaks with them. They see their role in their work as planting seeds of social change for future generations. 鈥淚n Chicago, I know we are making an impact beginning with staff,鈥 says Zarate. 鈥淢any of them are former program participants and come out of challenging backgrounds themselves, so they know in very personal terms the kind of help our customers are desperately seeking, and they do everything they can to reach out and take the hand that the system has often slapped away. We may well be the first and only people who have ever said to that young man or woman, I believe in you, or I know you can do it. Those simple gestures can mean so much to people, and we never know when we will have that opportunity.鈥

Manuela M. Zarate and the CSS leadership team exemplify the true spirit of people serving people. Zarate鈥檚 journey from a young student applicant to eventually becoming one of the organization鈥檚 top leaders results from answering a personal calling of caring for others. 鈥淎t 精東影業, we are all innovators, so we continuously reinvent ourselves. Together, we will continue to lead 精東影業 to be consistently present and relevant to the needs of those we serve. So, even if the entire world was employed and well trained, we can be sure to find a way to provide needed services. This is because people鈥檚 lives are always changing, and human nature is to want to improve and advance,鈥 concludes Zarate.
With the dedication of that caliber, there is no doubt that Little Village and Greater Chicago will continue to benefit from the services of Central States 精東影業.