Center for Latino Progress – CPRF (formerly Connecticut Puerto Rican Forum, Inc.) mission is to advance the socio-economic conditions of the community at large, with emphasis on Hispanics, through education, training, supportive services, leadership development, and advocacy. Since 1979, we offer culturally competent services and programs that foster individual and community growth, and create economic opportunities for all. We specialize in providing effective programs to the up and coming and fastest growing Latino population, the marginalized and disadvantaged residents of Hartford and its neighboring communities; in order to help them enter the social and economic mainstream.
The only Latino agency in Connecticut recognized by the Bureau of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to provide affordable legal and linguistically appropriate services, and culturally competent naturalization programs to the growing legal permanent residents in the area.
The Center advocates for the betterment of the Latino communities in leadership roles at local, state, and national levels, in partnership with statewide and national organizations. The Center is a proud member of National Council of La Raza, Hispanic Federation, and Catholic Legal Immigration Network.
GREATEST LEADERSHIP STRENGTHS
The Center is already a recognized and experienced leader in the advocacy field and development of workforce programs. In addition to the partners and collaborators already mentioned, the agency works closely with other organizations in and out-of-state, such as the Hispanic Federation, and National Council of La Raza. The Center has partnered with other organizations dedicated to increasing Latino access and influence in all areas of public policy and economic and community development; these partners represent all the communities in the state with significant Hispanic populations, and include housing, healthcare, educational, cultural, and professional organizations, as well as others in the field of workforce development.
The Center is addressing the distinctive needs of the increasingly diverse Latino population in the Hartford area. Whereas several years ago, the Center’s 75 to 80% total participants came from Puerto Rico, today the total number of participants coming from Puerto Rico represent less than 50%. We are starting to address the immigration issues that affect a large number of the Center’s clients, but we must also deal with family and cultural, governmental and other differences in order to help our participants to acclimate to life here in the United States; as well as to accept and appreciate the differences within their own Latino community. Nevertheless, we have been addressing those challenges through our diverse staff and board of directors’ membership.
Our greatest strength is a long-standing history with the Latino community. We are located at the hub of the Latino community, Latinos from all nationalities, regardless of their legal documentation, feel comfortable at the Center. The Center is equipped with a professional staff and modern equipment.
ADDRESSING LOCAL MARKET PRIORITIES
The Center supports economic development by providing economic development one person at a time with programmatic contextualized platforms. It provides education that promotes the state’s economic competitiveness through the development of sustainable and effective workforce by increasing workers’ skills, encouraging literacy, civic education and the advancement of families towards self-sufficiency.
Ultimately, it addresses health and human services by providing life skills and job readiness preparation classes.
THE CENTER UNIQUENESS
The Center is the only Latino based organization with focus on workforce development and Latino justice in Northern Connecticut. It represents our community and achieves participation and engagement of public and private entities into the model of collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment focused on the education and development of the Latinos. We are a magnet for Latinos of all nationalities due to our history, programs, services, and long standing in the community. Our clients continually request the expansion of our services.
Since 2005, according to the CT Department of Education, E-Workplace Basics Program, has consistently measured at the top 25th percentile statewide in overall performance goals for adult education. The Center was selected, through a competitive process, to showcase its model “The “Business of Developing the Future Workforce – A Model for Entrepreneurship, Cultural Diversity, and Increased Earning Potential”at the NCLR National Conference in Washington, DC.
FULFILLING THE CENTER’S MISSION
As a Latino led organization, comprised of migrants and immigrants, its leadership understands, experiences and recognizes the array of challenges, as well as barriers, our community encounters. Over three decades, it has embraced people of all nationalities; it has been a story of hope, perseverance, and community triumph. The Center continues to be a magnet for Limited English Proficient people who have made CT their home. With us, they learn English, navigate workforce systems and adjust to life in Hartford in a myriad of ways. Because they encounter a society which requires a higher proficiency in literacy and vocational knowledge in order to achieve upward mobility, the Center has developed adult programs which are pathways for careers, self-sufficiency and independence. It provides youth programs that prevent drop out and create career guidance. We collaborate with Latino leaders and professionals providing workshops in leadership, workers’ rights, financial literacy, and advocacy. We promote worker safety for those working at the low-end of the pay scale, where typically unsafe working conditions are most likely to exist. The Center offers lifetime services to our participants.
Educational / Adults:
E-Workplace Basic Skillsprovides Effective, Essential, ESL instruction using workplace-related curricula with a vocational focus and coupled with civics. Examples of vocational focus are Customer Service, Childcare Providers, Construction/OSHA 10, and Citizenship, among others.
The Center is approved by National Retail Federation Foundation and is a certification/testing site open to the public. At our site, we offer the Credited National Professional Certification in Customer Service. This credential helps employers distinguish and recognize qualified customer service professionals, and helps define career advancement opportunities for candidates. By earning the professional certification in customer service, candidates can demonstrate their knowledge and skills in work areas valued by employers, and exhibit their commitment to professional growth. Time testing accommodations are offered for bilingual clients.
Educational / Youth:
Programs for youth ages 16 to 19 are designed to enhance employability skills training and assist with any academic deficiencies while embracing their culturaldiversity. Curriculum components include workshops in career counseling, life skills, leadership development, diversity management, computer basics, language / analytical skills, and math. It may include subsidized employment in the public and private non-profit sectors and/or community service. Through programming and placements, youth reinforce the ability to demonstrate basic personal and work-related responsibility, critical thinking, communication and interpersonal skills development, and an understanding of available careers and labor market information in a particular target industry and career path. Through community service, youth are encouraged to share their knowledge, and become active members of society. At the conclusion of the programs, each youth completes a portfolio of their work.
The Center has been a partner of the Hartford Jobs Funnel(HJF) program since its inception. The program is designed to help participants enter careers in construction. The HJF not only provides job readiness and occupational skills training, but also assistance with finding and maintaining employment. The HJF is a successful program in terms of both its operations and outcomes. Evidence demonstrates program participants have a greater attachment to employment and greater annual earnings after enrolling in the program.
The Center’s programs make a great difference in the lives of the participants and return great value to the community and its economy, however, more needs to done.
Advocacy/leadership/rightsare central to the Center’s pursuit of its mission and continue to be a priority far into the foreseeable future. At the highest level, effective advocacy is crucial to improving Latino cultural, economic, social, and civic integration; for such integration to happen, Latinos must become much more visible to the larger society and be seen as equal peers in all aspects of life. The Center recognizes that to achieve that goal, the Latino community must be able to make itself be heard clearly and effectively – it must be able to speak up for itself in the right ways, at the right times, and in the right places. The Center is continuously strengthening its capacity to be a voice for Latino workers and families, and to develop the capacity of those that we serve.