MAGIC VALLEY — After receiving a $45,000 grant from Chobani, Latinos in Action decided to use that money to expand their services in high schools throughout the Magic Valley.
Latinos in Action, an organization that aims to encourage Latino high school students to go to college, became involved in the Magic Valley back in 2014 when they partnered with Jerome High School to offer Latinos in Action where students would also receive college credit.
"The number of Latinos in concurrent enrollment or dual enrollment courses was meager, so this kind of initiates it. It's an initiative to get involved in more dual enrollment courses," Jose Enriquez, founder of Latinos in Action, said.
After becoming a high school teacher, Enriquez noticed the low number of Latinos going to college and the low number of Latinos getting involved in their community. He says being involved in extracurricular activities was essential to him growing up and encouraged him to go to college.
"I began to see that a lot of our young Latinos were not getting engaged, not being involved, so I went to my principal and said 'let me take 35 of these students and teach Spanish for natives,'" Enriquez said.
The goal of the Spanish class was to teach students about Latino heroes to encourage them to continue their education, but after some time, Jose realized there needed to be more of an effort and created Latinos in Action.
"One of the most important things is it empowers our Latino Youth to lead and strengthen their communities. It's a leadership course service-learning college career readiness," Enriquez said.
The course also has these students mentor young kids in elementary schools, something they hope will encourage these younger kids to get involved with Latinos in Action by the time they're in high school.
"During this class time we take them over to the elementary school to mentor and tutor the young elementary students who are struggling in literacy, so our whole goal is to improve literacy in young Latino students, but also to show these role models," Enriquez said.
With the Chobani grant, they hope to reach more students and offer college career building.
"Now you have a course that says 'I'm going to give you credit for your bilingualism, your biculturalism, and everything you bring to the table.' We're going to put it where you're going to be a leader like today, not mañana, but on a daily, you're going to lead and serve these young kids," Enriquez said.
If you would like to learn more about Latinos in Action, you could visit their website.