A community program working to reduce violence through soccer and an after-school robotics class serving Latino youth in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region have each received up to $50,000 in grants to aid their efforts from the Inter-American Development Bank.
Reporter Armando Trull provides insight into these two programs in a story for WAMU.
“Some of these youths have been involved in rival Latino gangs such as MS-13 and Barrio 18 — a rivalry that in Central America and even the metro D.C. region can lead to violence or death,” Trull tells listeners after a conversation with Josue Salmeron of Collaborative Solutions for Communities, a nonprofit that organizes the DC Cosmos soccer team, where these formal rivals are now teammates. In order to play, the teenagers have to give up gang life.
Collaborative Solutions for Communities offers services for families and youth, including programs promoting violence prevention and workforce development. The nonprofit has served nearly 650 high-risk youth since 2011 and, according to its website, has seen participants improve their behavior at school, as well as their academic performance.
The Inter-American Development Bank has long funded nonprofit organizations that support the Latino American and Caribbean communities in D.C., but this year the financial institution is expanding its reach to include neighboring areas in Virginia and Maryland, “reflecting the spread of migrant communities throughout the metropolitan area,” according to a news release. It has also adjusted its reach to focus on programs “that use innovative means to increase their impact on communities.”
Hence the inclusion of Edu-Futuro – an after-school robotics and technology enrichment program partnering with Arlington Public School in Virginia – in IDB’s list of grant recipients.
“Edu-Futuro was started about 18 years ago to serve Arlington’s Bolivian immigrant community. Elementary school children were taught Spanish in after-school enrichment programs, science and technology skills in middle school and leadership skills in high school. Over time, as Arlington’s Latino community changed more and more, Salvadoran immigrant youth became involved in Edu-Futuro,” Trull reports.
The money will go toward expanding the robotics club to other middle schools in Arlington and Fairfax counties. Collaborative Solutions for Communities plans to use its IDB grant to purchase new uniforms and equipment for DC Cosmos and will also expanded its mentoring programs.