|This Best Practice is one of
Best Practices for Human Settlements
presented in the MOST Clearing House
Best Practices Database.
This project, with its many activities, addresses the issues of cultural isolation and language barriers presented by the new population of Latino immigrants coming to the rural resort areas of Colorado. The project assists and trains individuals, advocates for fair treatment for Latinos (including working for the hiring of Spanish-speaking staff in public agencies), and builds bridges and coalitions between the Anglo and Latino cultures. It provides services in four areas: health and human services, education, business, and public safety/immigration. The project seeks to identify and build on the assets and capabilities of the Latino community, fostering a regional cross-sectoral, collaborative problem-solving approach that encourages the Latino and Anglo community to see each other as resources.
The mission of Asistencia para Latinos is to empower the Latino community towards
self-sufficiency through service, education, advocacy, and inter-agency collaboration. The
Winds of Change is a movement developed by Asistencia para Latinos to address the issues
of cultural isolation and language barriers presented by the new population of immigrants
coming to the rural resort areas of Colorado.
Through the program's advocacy, businesses and public agencies have increased their number of Spanish-speaking staff. Now every human services agency in Pitkin County has a bilingual staff person. Two Latin American festivals were conducted with a total attendance of over 6,000 people. A new coalition of 100 people, professionals, educators, law enforcement, and community members, Latinos and Anglos, have come together to work on issues affecting the Latino community, and the issue of integration of both communities. Partnerships between law enforcement and Latino youth have been created to address the issues of crime and violence. The private sector, particularly the banking industry, is directing efforts toward economic development of the local Latino community.
The project has been successful in bringing about considerable institutional change to the area in which it operates. For example, all social service agencies now have bilingual staff members, and the Latin American Festivals seem likely to continue. Some of the advances are intangible: the program has promoted a community norm of equity in service provision, increased the sense of pride of the Latino population, devised ways to develop mutual respect, and has assisted the Latino and Anglo community in recognizing the economic and social power within the Latino population. All these factors suggest a more promising outlook for the long-term integration of this overwhelmingly immigrant population into the mainstream than would have been possible without these efforts. The initiative's local, grassroots character and diversified funding base should also add to its sustainability.
Asistencia para Latinos
Asistencia para Latinos, Glenwood Springs, Colorado
County, state, local, and national governments
The Aspen Foundation; Norwest, Colorado National, and Alpine banks
Many community organizations and coalitions
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