Community Based Programs

Comprehensive Sexual Education Programs Funding Cuts: The Fight Isn't Over

In adverse times such as these, we often feel like we’re fighting an uphill battle. From members of our community being detained by ICE, to allies being killed or hurt for standing up and doing the right thing, our community and others like us face bigotry and fear everyday. And, unfortunately, our national government often reflects this intolerance.

At Latino Network, we will continue to fight for equality, choose love over hate, and stand up for our community - regardless of the circumstance.

ACT is a crucial program for our community: Comprehensive sexuality education provides young people with the tools to make informed decisions and build healthy relationships, and encourages healthy family communication about sexuality.

On July 14, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notified the Multnomah County Health Department that it will cut the last two years of a five-year Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP), even though the federal budget for fiscal year 2018 has not been finalized. This program has the dual goal of reducing rates of unintended pregnancy and STIs among African American, Latino, and Native American young people.

Latino Network was one of 5 local organizations to receive the news that this funding - a total of $6.25 million over five years - will come to an end two years early. The program, called Adolescents and Communities Together (ACT - the local TPPP for Multnomah County), provides culturally relevant comprehensive sexuality education to approximately 3000 young people and 200 parents each year in Multnomah County.

So, how will funding cuts affect the program and its participants? The answer is unsettling: Latino Network and our partner organizations need to find alternative funding in order to make ACT possible.

ACT is a crucial program for our community: Comprehensive sexuality education provides young people with the tools to make informed decisions and build healthy relationships, and encourages healthy family communication about sexuality.

Cuts to programs like ACT will take this away from thousands of young people and families across the country, including those in our own community in Portland.

Latino Network and our partner organizations will have to search for funding elsewhere for ACT, the local TPPP for Multnomah County.

Latino Network and our partner organizations will have to search for funding elsewhere for ACT, the local TPPP for Multnomah County.

The future of Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs (TPPP) like ACT is still unclear. Many lawmakers from the Pacific Northwest - including Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Earl Blumenaeur (D-OR), and Peter DeFazio (D-OR) - have openly condemned this preemptive decision, saying that it will put young people and women at risk and that it goes against evidence-based policymaking.

Needless to say, although many lawmakers are fighting to keep TPPP in the national budget, Latino Network and our partners are nonetheless taking the steps to prepare for the worst and search for funding elsewhere. We remain committed to this work because the science and evidence for programs like ACT are clear: Providing young people with comprehensive sexuality education and access to birth control does not increase sexual behaviors. Rather, it empowers young people to make healthy and responsible decisions for when they do become sexually active.

Comprehensive sexuality education is a basic human right. And although we are devastated about this recent setback, we will continue to fight to make programs like these possible for all young people and families in our community. We will also continue to inform you - our familia - about updates regarding sexuality education funding.

 

Five Years of Latino Leadership: Congratulations to Unid@s Cohort V!

Video: Lara Media

For the past five years, Latino Network has worked with community members from around the state to cultivate leaders within the Latino community. Since the start of Unid@s for Oregon, 10% of all participants have pursued an elected public office, and 6 alumni have successfully been elected or appointed to public office.

This year we celebrate the 5th Anniversary of Unid@s for Oregon by congratulating its fifth cohort to alumni status – Welcome to the family, Unid@s Cohort V! Congratulations on all of your hard work and dedication!

On Saturday, May 6, we graduated another class of Unid@s Latinx leaders. Since October, members of Unid@s Cohort V have been meeting regularly. From learning about personal transformation and attacks on leadership from Nanci Luna Jimenez to visiting Oregon Shakespeare Festival and meeting with MacArthur Fellow and playwright Luis Alfaro, they have been busy! 

Members hail from around the state and from all sectors. Indeed, in a time when our communities most need our voices to be heard, these Unid@s leaders aim to be on the forefront of change and transformation within and for their communities.

"It was truly a transformational experience to learn, grow and share with Unid@s C5 Cohort this past year. Through the year we had various sessions across the state and each presenter, trainer and guest speaker added a layer of significance and impact to the experience of each participant. Vamos Adelante Unid@s Cohort V. "

If you're interested in learning more about Unid@s or seeing the full Cohort V member list, check out our Unid@s webpage!

Enjoy some snapshots from the graduation ceremony and the alumni gathering! Congrats Cohort V!

Thank you  Ecotrust  for letting us celebrate in your beautiful space!

Thank you Ecotrust for letting us celebrate in your beautiful space!

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CHI Kicks Off New Girls Basketball Program

A few months ago, Antoinette Edwards from the Office of Violence Prevention called us to see if we could run a program for African-American and Latino girls focused on basketball. Too often we see black and brown young woman standing on the sidelines while the boys play basketball. We wanted to change that - and build bridges between communities. 

So, we are excited to announce a new series focused on getting young women involved in basketball! The CHI Girls Basketball program will host workshops & clinics as well as field trips to see female basketball players in action. 

Before we begin spring basketball clinics (stay tuned!), we want to give young women and girls the experience of watching games at the collegiate and professional level. We thought it would be fun this winter to take them to a few local pro and college games!

At each game, the girls will also get to meet players and hear about their stories and how they got to where they are. 

University of Portland Home Game  - Our girls had a BLAST at our first event this winter! 

University of Portland Home Game - Our girls had a BLAST at our first event this winter! 

Our Winter Schedule:

  • Saturday, Feb. 4th - Home game at the University of Portland

  • Saturday, Feb 11th - Home game at Lewis & Clark

  • Thursday, Feb. 16th - Home game at Portland State

  • Thursday, March 2nd - Portland Trail Blazers Hispanic Heritage Night


If you know girls who would like to play or be part of the program, contact CHI Manager Yolanda Gonzalez.

LATINO NETWORK STAFF HELP YOUTH AND FAMILIES MAKE PROUD AND RESPONSIBLE CHOICES THROUGH SEX EDUCATION

Like many middle schoolers, Juliana was not comfortable talking about sex and sexuality when she started participating in Making Proud Choices, a sexual health education program, in the fall.

Making Proud Choices is a new program of Latino Network, funded through a five-year federal grant through the Multnomah County Health Department. Like all of our programs, it provides bilingual and bicultural programming that engages youth and their parents to discuss a topic that can often be difficult for Latino families: sex. Latino Network staff have adapted the program to ensure Latino/a students see themselves and their culture reflected in the program. 

“It’s rewarding knowing that the students are able to learn in the language they prefer - English, Spanish or both,” said Vanessa LaTorre, Health and Wellness Coordinator. “It’s incredibly meaningful because it validates a person’s identity.” 

As Making Proud Choices sessions continued, Julianna started to use the anonymous question jar during group meetings. Then she started volunteering during the meetings. Throughout the program, she slowly grew  more comfortable with participating in group activities and discussions related to sex and sexual health.  

“It’s rewarding to watch them grow into the topic, meaning they often start off shy and say that they don’t need the information because they aren’t sexually active yet,” said Veronica Sunderland-Perez, Health and Wellness Manager. “Then they realize that this is information that they can share with friends and family who are sexually active, or they can save the knowledge when they do become active.”

Now, close to the end of Making Proud Choices program, Julianna is comfortable enough to participate in role play activities during meetings and take a safety kit home. She also said during a meeting that she demonstrated to her parents the proper steps for how to use a condom and make proud and responsible choices!  

“I’m so proud of her and the rest of the group,” said Wendy Lopez Schmidt, a Making Proud Choices Instructor for Latino Network. “It’s a fabulous example of what this program can do to impact families and youth when it comes to sex.”

Juliana is just one of our participants. In fact, more than 75% of youth who participate are more likely to talk with their partners about condoms, birth control, testing and other forms of protection. Students even reported that they learned how to have healthy conversations about sex with their family after participating - 63% were more comfortable discussing their sexuality with their parents after the program.

It’s makes families and the community overall healthier when parents have these conversations about sex with their kids.
— Veronica Sunderland-Perez

That’s a key component of our program - engaging parents as well, who often have a tough time opening up. Using the Opciones y Education (OYE) curriculum, parents are engaged through parent workshops, led by bilingual and bicultural staff members. 

“It’s important to respect where they’re at and find ways to talk about sex with their kids in a way that is healthy,” Veronica said. “It’s necessary to reframe the topic with their kids so that their kids feel supported - they need to know how to help their kids achieve their life goals. It’s makes families and the community overall healthier when parents have these conversations about sex with their kids.”

With the success of the first Making Proud Choices cohort, we are planning to expand the program to reach more Latino/a students in middle and high schools. They also hope to form partnerships to reach Latino students in the juvenile justice system and alternative schools. 

“I view sexual health as a basic human right,” said Veronica. “We want to continue to seek and empower youth and parents to lead healthier sexual lives.”

We would like to thank the Multnomah County Health Department for funding Making Proud Choices/ACT and E.C. Brown Foundation for funding OYE.

 

Family Stability Programs Are Growing!

We are excited to expand our services to help more Latino families in the Portland-Metro area!

We are excited to expand our services to help more Latino families in the Portland-Metro area!

One of Latino Network’s core priorities is family stability – ensuring our Latino families have the resources and tools needed to thrive. While all of our programs include family engagement, we are proud to announce that our Family Stability programs has grown to serve even more Latino families.

The Multnomah Stability Initiative (MSI) is a county program to assist individuals throughout Portland to meet basic needs through rent assistance, energy assistance, and more. Among its services, one component of MSI is that it seeks to provide culturally specific services to low-income families – and our very own Family Stability Programs Team is proud to partner with the initiative to provide these services in the Latino Community!

“Our programs and services are informed by the communities we serve, so it is really a collaborative process for everyone involved,” said David DiMatteo, our Family Stability Programs Manager. “Building relationships with our community partners, and seeing all the great work being done at other agencies has also been really rewarding.”

MSI services include rental, energy, and housing assistance, and one-on-one case management. All services ensure that each participant receives culturally specific services that allow them better access to resources within the community. Currently, Latino Network has three employees who are dedicated to working with families through MSI. Though we focus on serving Latino families, our services are open to all families who may be in need. 

“In part, this model is reflective of changing demographics and the growth of the Latino community in Oregon,” said David. “We are lucky enough to be able to work with some great families.  It has been great to be apart of programs which really showcase people's strength and resiliency, creativity and heart.”

MSI and Family Stability have hit the ground running, and we’re so excited to witness the amazing things they’ll do for families throughout Portland!

See the full list of culturally specific organizations that are partnering with Latino Network and MSI to make this happen!

 

Volunteer with adult ESL programs

Position Description:

Volunteer ESL Classroom Assistant

Volunteer Description and Responsibilities

Supports ESL Instructor, shares activities and ideas, guides individual students during bookwork activities, and encourages English conversation among students

Language Requirement

Intermediate Spanish preferred but not required

Skills & Knowledge

Experience with adult classroom instruction or tutoring ESL preferred but not required

Time Requirement

Class is Mondays and Wednesdays from 6-8 pm at Oliver P Lent School. Can volunteer one or both nights weekly.

Volunteer Benefits

Work with adult ESL students who are native Spanish speakers and working to learn English.