Project to fight Latino poverty will focus on Willmar
WILLMAR -- The Willmar/Pennock community has been chosen to participate in a three-year project to overcome poverty in rural Latino communities. The project is called Ra?ces, Spanish for roots, and will be a cross-cultural effort to reduce povert...
WILLMAR -- The Willmar/Pennock community has been chosen to participate in a three-year project to overcome poverty in rural Latino communities.
The project is called Ra?ces, Spanish for roots, and will be a cross-cultural effort to reduce poverty and encourage Latino families to become active in their communities.
In Willmar the effort will kick off with a community-wide meeting at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 17 at the Willmar Junior High. The meeting will include music, food and a bilingual presentation.
Ra?ces, funded by grants, is a partnership between the Northwest Area Foundation, the Main Street Project and the University of Iowa Institute for Support of Latino Families and Communities.
The project began with a planning effort a year ago. Community kickoff meetings are planned this fall in four states. The partners have chosen clusters of rural communities with Latino populations in Minnesota, Iowa, Idaho and Oregon.
"They chose Willmar because of the growing population within the last 10 years and the good things that are already happening," said Maria Diaz, the Ra?ces community organizer. Diaz worked until last spring as a retention coordinator at Willmar Senior High and began working with Ra?ces on Sept. 1.
The project will have a distinct rural flavor. The program's Web site says community projects will be developed with "respect for rural context and realities." The program will use an approach that involves Latinos living in poverty and shows respect for their knowledge and experiences, according to information from the program's newsletter.
It's difficult to say at this point what the project is going to look like in Willmar, Diaz said. Those at the Nov. 17 meeting will help begin to shape the direction in Willmar.
The meeting will be a time to gather ideas and begin the process of developing goals and setting priorities for the next three years, she said.
"We'll try to come up with a common goal as a community," Diaz said.