Un Sueño para el Futuro/ A Dream for the Future

1. Describe the project a STAKE Grant would help you accomplish:
Un SueƱo para el Futuro (A Dream for the Future) is a weekly therapeutic group for Spanish-speaking immigrant and refugee youth who face complicated barriers to services in the region. Volunteer facilitators and youth engage in activities and discussions about relationships, life circumstances, mutual struggles to stay on a path to success in school, and about achieving their future dreams. We seek to train a core group of youth participants as youth mentors who will learn skills needed to reach out to other, similar young people who are new to the area, and who would benefit from similar support.

2. How will you use the grant toward the realization of your project? $800 is your imaginary budget:
We will pay a core group of five youth (who are current participants in our program) a stipend of $100 per youth to receive training to be youth mentors (x5=$500). Additional funds will pay for training materials (which will be translated) ($200), and refreshments for the ongoing groups ($100).

3. A little about yourself and what led you to your current creative goals. This may include a previous project of yours, ways it both succeeded and failed (this can be entirely unrelated to your proposal):
I am a licensed social worker who has spent over 30 years working with vulnerable populations in Latin America and the U.S. I am the founder of La Puerta Abierta/The Open Door, which is a service learning program that provides pro bono mental health services for Latino immigrant youth and families facing barriers to this care. I believe that the lack of supports and services to this vulnerable population is a human rights issue that reaches beyond politics. I have also seen the magic that happens when people are simply valued for their humanity and given basic opportunities to thrive.

4. Why is this project important? How will it benefit the community?
The number of youth coming to the U.S without their families, running from violence, drug gangs and dire poverty in Central America has dramatically increased. Despite hardships faced in their home countries and the perilous journey taken to come to the U.S., many youth have been an inspiration to others through their determination and dreams for a better life. Training youth mentors to reach out to other immigrant youth promotes hope, trust and positive relationships, which builds community among some of our most vulnerable youth, while empowering our youth participants through leadership skill-building and additional avenues to their own healing.