CLACS receives fourth consecutive grant

The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) is being rewarded for its philanthropic work with first and second generation immigrants.

On Sept. 8, the CLACS received a $10,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation.

“This is the fourth year we have received [a grant] from the Verizon Foundation, and we are very grateful for their generosity,” said CLACS chairwoman and SJU professor Dr. Alina Camacho-Gingerich.

The center was established in 1994. It is a coalition of University faculty and administrators who organize free educational workshops and English as a Second Language classes for immigrants who reside in Queens.

They also publish their workshops into annual scholarly journals such as “The Immigrant Experience In New York City: A Resource Guide” and distribute them at local libraries.

The workshops educate immigrants about issues that affect them such as immigration policy and labor laws.

They also serve as a way for immigrants to assimilate socially to their new surroundings and learn how to attain citizenship.
“We would like to make our organization truly comprehensive, this is just the beginning,” Camacho said.

The grant will help to cover the costs of ESL classes and educational workshops sponsored by the center throughout
the year.

Camacho explained that she would like to see the center bring its programs to more communities.

However, she said that last year the center was only able to promote its workshops in three neighborhoods because limited funds made it difficult.

She estimated it will take $95,000 to fund a year and a half to two years of projects.

The Verizon Foundation’s grant is the first endowment of the center’s fiscal year.

Camacho said she is in the process of applying for more grants to support their classes and workshops.

Municipal agencies like New York City’s Department of Youth and Community Development have donated to the center in previous years.

Dr. Rafael Javier, a psychology professor affiliated with the organization, said that he hopes the center will “receive more substantial grants so that it can develop more comprehensive program for the community.”

Tiffany Berrios, a sophomore, thinks the center’s work with immigrants is “a good idea that allows people to empower themselves through education.” She said that she hopes the center gains the additional funding it needs to expand their programs.

The Student Coordinator for CLACS, Brittany Wilkinson, said she plans to start recruiting students to serve as English conversation partners for upcoming ESL classes.

“Living in Queens, students have the opportunity to meet and see immigrants everyday and help them succeed through service,” she said.