As a single mom, Heidi needed a job that paid her enough to provide for her family and offered flexible hours so she could balance work with responsibilities at home. Since moving would require her children to change schools and take her away from her existing support system, she also hoped to find a position near her current neighborhood. Outgoing and good with people, Heidi dreamed of a career that allowed her to use her natural nurturing skills. But without a degree or proper training, many of the jobs she was well-suited for were out of reach.

While it is true that the context of one’s life determines our choices, it is the infrastructure of opportunity available in one’s community that serves as the bridge to transformation. In Heidi’s case, Instituto del Progress Latino was that bridge. Today, Heidi is gainfully employed as a certified nurse assistant. She represents millions of Latinos who are part of the US workforce seeking fulfilling, quality jobs. Heidi found a pathway to a successful career with the support of programs offered through Instituto del Progreso Latino.

Serving families through a suite of services—including workforce development, financial counseling, job placement support, basic adult education, citizenship services, youth education, and more—Instituto offers employer-driven career pathway training that prepares participants for growing industries in Chicago’s Southwest Side.

Representing 17.6% of the American workforce and on track to become 28% of the total US population by 2060, Latinos are poised to be a critical driver of this country’s economy. As the nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, Instituto offers lessons in how to harness this power by ensuring Latino workers have the skills and opportunities needed to access quality jobs and build meaningful careers.

  • Building skills to prepare workers for local, in-demand jobs.
  • Meeting workers where they are.
  • Giving participants the support they need.

By offering a curriculum based on industry needs, contextualized education, and significant supportive services, Instituto helps Latinos access the tailored training needed to enter a promising career, build financial stability, and support the broader economy. And—with industry, academic, and philanthropic support—communities throughout the country can adapt and pursue this approach.

Read the full article about building employment opportunities for American Latinos by Domenika Lynch and Hector Mujica at the Aspen Institute.