Part of HYPE’s mission is to help young professionals become better engaged in community life, expand professional and social opportunities, and become ambassadors for the Hartford Region. HYPE encourages cross-collaboration among agencies and organizations that offer opportunities to volunteer in the community. The Community Conversations series focuses on interviewing professionals in a local nonprofit to bring awareness to their mission, highlight their impact in the community, and to provide information on how to get more involved with the organization. The March series focused on the Center for Latino Progress, where Joseph Dickerson and Tony Cherolis spoke with HYPEster Justin Zukowski for a discussion on the Center’s exciting offerings.
What is the mission of your organization?
The Center for Latino Progress aims to advance socio-economic conditions of the Hartford community, emphasizing Hispanic progress through education, training, support services, leadership development and advocacy. Since its founding in 1978, CLP’s status as a Bellwether-grant foundation has allowed community betterment across Hartford with a focus on the Park St. community. Through intimate involvement in the community, CLP has identified one of the largest barriers of local advancement is lack of access to steady transportation. This has driven many initiatives toward a transportation focus - leveraging current public offerings and empowering the community through access to bicycle safety and training programs.
What is your role within the organization?
As the youth program coordinator, Tony Cherolis spearheads the Center’s participation in the Hartford School’s Internship Program. As with many non-profits, staff participation is not limited to a single program. A passion for youth empowerment drives Tony’s work with the FUTUROS college prep program and summer youth employment internships.
An extensive history in private industry and non-profit work intersects with Joseph’s passion for cycling in his management of BiCi Co. He aims to help youth explore the adventures that biking can provide and the technical ability of repair and maintenance that isn’t limited to only cycling though his role.
How do you implement your services or programs?
The Center for Latino Progress has many initiatives catering to the local community. A few of the more recent initiatives are highlighted below:
- BiCi Co: Teaches and develops cycling and mechanic skills to youth members of the community, aiding in mobility and training. An initiative started in 2015, the Center’s leadership has created a strong community of support for the shop (which is one of the only existing in the Hartford area). BiCi Co. provides an important venue for those who care about cycling and want to work on their own bikes, in addition the youth programs focused on mechanical and safety aspects. BiCi Co. offers membership and programs to those who are passionate about the cause, in turn granting access to their shop and skilled mechanics.
- Transport Hartford: An effort to bring multi-modal, active transportation, information, panels, forums, and civic engagement to the Hartford region. A new effort in conjunction with state transportation partners and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving to celebrate the benefits of CTfastrak, commuter rail, improvements to the transit system, a developing bike route network, and complete streets that serve all road users.
- Hartford School’s Internship Program: A paid internship program for 125 juniors and seniors across local non-profits, institutions, and private companies in the Hartford area. Students work as trainees in a paid position and are encouraged with financial and professional advice. The Center also serves the city with the Capital Workforce Partners Summer Youth Employment program, a paid summer internship that continues increasing the professional skill of Hartford teens and young adults.
- FUTUROS: A college prep program for high-school students who need extra support in their education path. Mentoring, tutoring and homework help are provided to community members on Saturdays.
In what ways has this organization been impactful to your cause?
BiCi Co’s work has brought technical training and work to the community, while other programs like FUTUROS, Hartford School’s Internship Program and the upcoming Transport Hartford events advance the community through education, civic engagement, mentorship, and professional development.
How does someone get more involved?
There are many ways to get involved in CLP’s work, whether it be tutoring with FUTOROS on the weekend, hands-on volunteering at BiCi Co. or even providing an opportunity for a high school intern at your corporation.
BiCi Co. needs your help to further expand reach, hours, and shop space. Those who care about cycling and job access in the Hartford area can dedicate time or funds to the organization to aid in their mission. Community hours are available to volunteer Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays to help build bikes available for sale and donation. BiCi Co. also sells upcycled used bicycles to provide greater access to healthy, sustainable transportation to the Hartford area. Bicycle and part sales contribute as a social enterprise to support BiCi Co. community programs. Email Joseph for information!
Futuros is looking to expand capacity for mentorship, tutoring and professional development. Volunteers can provide their time on Saturdays to local students in the program. Email Tony for Futuros and all other volunteer opportunities.