The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday December 7th

El Centro Hispano adds new programs

Nonprofit expands youth outreach

Nine months after opening, a nonprofit targeting the Latino population in Carrboro is expanding services to aid its local youth population.

The El Centro Hispano center in Carrboro is adding several projects, including the Jóvenes Líderes en Acción program, or Young Leaders in Action, which began in 1996 in El Centro Hispano’s Durham office.

Rossana Zetina, the administrative coordinator for the Carrboro office, said they began developing Young Leaders in Carrboro early this month.

“This program is already well-established in Durham, but we need to see what needs are here and build up relationships for a successful program,” Zetina said.

Pilar Rocha-Goldberg, president and CEO of El Centro Hispano, said Young Leaders involves identifying a group of about 20 teenagers who meet with an adult once a week. They attend workshops, go on college visits and look at scholarship programs.

“We work with the youth on leadership, self-esteem and identity,” Rocha-Goldberg said.

Youth Organizer Ivan Almonte, who leads the program in Durham, said youth ages 14 to 19 can be involved with Young Leaders for as long as they are in school.

The program incorporates students’ families, who can meet with counselors and attend workshops to help their children apply to college.

Young Leaders also provides cultural and social activities.

“We often celebrate things from Latino culture such as the Day of the Dead. We also have Las Posadas in December, which is traditionally celebrated in Mexico,” he said. “The youth bring food, we have pinatas, and just celebrate friendships and enjoy family time. Celebrating these traditions is a way we get the families involved in the meetings.”

Rocha-Goldberg said the Carrboro office has begun outreach for its intended Young Leaders program by speaking to teachers, PTAs and administrators.

The students will probably begin meeting by the end of April, though they haven’t been selected yet.

Rocha-Goldberg said the Carrboro office is also adding nutrition education and breast cancer and HIV prevention, among other services.

“We are only one organization — all El Centro,” she said. “The idea is we continue to have the administration in Durham but replicate some of the programs we have here in Durham in Carrboro.”

El Centro Hispano began plans to open a Carrboro office in November 2009 when the El Centro Latino office announced it was closing. The two organizations were not related.

The Carrboro office opened July 9, and Rocha-Goldberg said it has been a success since.

“From July when we opened through December we served 1,200 people in the Carrboro office,” Rocha-Goldberg said. “That’s in only 6 months, the first half year of our opening an office, so we definitely have been happy with that.”

Contact the City Editor at city@dailytarheel.com.

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