JUNTA for Progressive Action was founded in 1969 as a response to the increase of families moving to New Haven from Puerto Rico. Although American citizens, Puerto Rican migrants expressed a need for services and programs that would help to transition their families into American life. These services included English as a Second language, scholarship assistance and translation services. As JUNTA has evolved throughout the years, we have expanded as a center of support for immigrant communities who settle in New Haven. Our programs are universal in that we recognize the needs of diverse populations, and administer programs that support low-income, disadvantaged children and families, as well as immigrants in the New Haven area. With seven core programs, we ensure that basic economic needs are met, such as food, housing, diapers for children, and assisting clients with accessing state and local benefits that will prevent them from slipping into poverty. We emphasize the importance of education as a vehicle to family economic success. To that end, we work in partnership with businesses and community-based organizations to provide Adult Education including ESL, GED, Spanish and citizenship courses, financial education, computer literacy skills training, parental workshops on advocating for their children’s education, and informational seminars on labor rights, immigration and health. Coupled with direct support and services are referrals to our resource partners that can provide further assistance and skills training, JUNTA is empowering residents to improve their quality of life. We also focus on the impact of immigration on New Haven’s cultural and social life. As the leading Latino advocacy organization in New Haven we worked collectively with the City of New Haven on a series of policies designed to integrate immigrants into the fabric of the city. For example, New Haven was a pioneer in its implementation of the Elm City Resident Card - a municipal ID card that provides identification to all city residents, regardless of legal status, and facilitates access to city services and financial institutions. The ID card initiative has been replicated in half a dozen cities, including San Francisco. The New Haven Police Department issued a Police General Order prohibiting police from enquiring about an individual's immigration status in the course of a criminal investigation. All of these policy initiatives were generated by JUNTA. The organization also took the lead in developing the political and community-based strategies to ensure their successful adoption and implementation by the City. We continue integrating immigrants into the life of the city through access to education, local resources and a Worker Center that organizes for equal labor rights for low-wage immigrant workers in Connecticut. We aim to help immigrants put down roots, build a better life, and become contributing members of society.
1. Launched and currently house the Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance, a coalition of over 40 organizations and activists who are working towards immigrant rights and integration on a local, state and national level. We have created three committees to focus on local immigration and deportation issues, state legislative advocacy, and comprehensive immigration reform.
3.Passed the Connecticut Trust Act, state legislation that bars Connecticut law enforcement on all levels from acting as Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in their exchanges and detention of Connecticut residents. The law essentially bars the federal policy, Secure Communities, from being implemented in CT. It leaves the job of detaining to ICE.
Top 3-5 goals for the Current Year
1. Expand beyond our mission to become an agency that can advise on Latino-specific issues, and collaborate with institutions, organizations and businesses to increase the capacity to address the Latino community and better understand cultural differences and potential barriers.
3. Expand our Employment and Economic Development programs to more fully address the unemployment rate among Latinos (20%). As the only organization in New Haven offering employment services in Spanish, Junta is need now, more than ever.
4. Build our Advocacy & Community Organizing program through investing in our Youth Action Committee. This committee engages Latino youth in social justice action and community organizing. With the increasing violence among youth in New Haven, keeping our youth in Fair Haven focused on change is so important.
1. Infrastructure/Capacity: Need for additional space to support expansion as a result in the increase in client population and services offered, and repairs to the building, which was built in 1850. Need: $65,000
2. Youth Action Committee: Funding needed: $10,000 to support an organizer, leadership training, materials and refreshments for youth for one year.
4. Volunteers: Need for trained volunteers for one-on-one ESL tutoring, conversational groups, and childcare for evening classes. Volunteers are also needed in the area of fundraising.
There is something inherently unique about Junta. It is the balance of service and advocacy, and the way we address the collective spirit of creating change in our community that is tangible and sustainable. As the only community-based organization in greater New Haven that provides bilingual services, we go beyond the immediate economic and social condition that disenfranchises someone who walks in through our doors. It is the process of being progressive. We do not wait for an individual or an entity to take on the challenges and trends that we identify through the daily work. It is our commitment and obligation to be at the forefront . For example, over the past 12 years we recognized the trend of immigration, its impact on greater New Haven, and the resistance and challenges that would arise. As anti-immigrant sentiment and rampant deportation are more increasingly tearing families apart, Junta responded with policy recommendations, action, and the formation of an advocacy program focused specifically on the impact of immigration on the person, built a statewide coalition to strategically address it, and are placing the organization and the community at the table where decisions are made. This is not by accident. It is through careful consideration, feedback from and discussions with those most affected, that we recognized these issues and address them. As we continue to grow as organization, we are committed to our core values of respect, voice, unity, integrity and excellence as central to a successful and thriving community for all people.
I joined the Board in 2002 at the invitation of the Executive Director, Kica Matos. I had lived in New Haven since 1999 and was interested in working closely in the community of Fair Haven, where I found a vibrant community of new migrants and working class residents of New Haven. As a scholar of immigration and labor, I was drawn to Junta's mission of advocacy and service on behalf of Latino populations and new migrants. Alongside my Board service, I attended town meetings that Junta convened to discuss the needs of undocumented migrants, who lacked access to drivers' licenses and were vulnerable to theft and extortion because of their inability to open bank accounts. My first work with Junta centered on the effort to integrate migrants into the city and obtain representation through the Elm City ID Card program. At the same time, I attended meetings to create a state-wide coalition dedicated to the defense of migrants' rights. This was critical during the 2007 ICE Raids, and led the Junta Board to prioritize building advocacy programs related to labor and immigrant rights. During this period I served as Board Secretary and chaired the Program Committee. Junta has been an integral part of my life and work, providing me with a wonderful community. I was honored to assume the role of Co-Chair for the Board in 2010, and to observe the continued growth and vitality of the organization over this decade.
Children:70% of students who participate in our program are more likely to receive better grades in school, communicate better with classmates, teachers and parents. They become more confident and offer to participate more in school activities and help more at home
Parents:55% of Parent participants are less confrontational with other adults and their families, tend to ask for help when needed and have higher expectations for their children.
Children: Better citizens and more active in their community: Former program participants return to us as volunteers and are as well involved in school activities supporting younger children who may be struggling with reading or may just need someone to read with. These students also participate in nursing homes activities where they read and talk with the elderly. Academic success: Students will be more likely to graduate from high school and attend college due to the academic support received in our program. High self-esteem: Students will develop a higher self-esteem and sense of competency through different activities such as art, sports and daily acknowledgement.
To measure the program success we utilize:
The Ohio Scale: a survey which is filled up by parents or guardians in the beginning of the program and at the end of the program. This form allows us to compare children social and academic behaviors before and after program participation.
Students Report Cards: parents/guardians and students are required to provide copy of the school report card at the end of each marking period.
Communication with Dept. of Children & Families (DCF) counselors and social workers: there is an active communication between these entities and our program to report the progress of our participants.
Parent Participant Realizes her dream: a single mother of two while participating in the different parent workshops in our program was encouraged to complete the GED program. She did not just obtain her high school diploma; she went on to college, obtained her Bachelor’s degree and she is now a social worker who recommends our program to parents.
Student Participants: a middle school girl living in an unstable home environment and struggling academically and socially in school, entered our program as a child. She excelled, improved her grades, gained confidence and is now a student in the school of education in Albertus Magnus School and works as a counselor for our children as a way of giving back just a bit of what was given to her. She is also becoming an advocate for equal rights for the poor. She recently spoke at the Women's Equity Forum hosted by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro.
The Family Management program works with families to empower them to move along the continuum from dependence to self sufficiency. From simple guidance and service, referral to family support, JUNTA advocates for families for them to gain the knowledge and skills needed for self advocacy and empowerment. Staff screens clients for access to benefits, provides diapers, food assistance (when available) and referrals to agencies for shelter, clothing and household items.
85% of clients will be prevented from slipping further into poverty because of our services and referrals.
Over 90 families are receiving diapers from the diaper bank program will now have healthier babies and better financial stability.
80% of clients that applied for the furniture program receive furniture for their home and now can really call their house a home.
90% of families involved in the Family Management Program will have improved their financial condition because of access to services. For example, a client will receive access to childcare services that will help the child in the future with a better education and will give the client opportunity to work. The Clients will be provided with housing assistance that in the future will help the family pay a rent that they can afford based on their income.
We know the program is working based largely on case follow-up. The Program Director and support staff follow up with clients at three, six and nine months to determine their current status, any additional needs, and assessing next steps. We also utilize Results Based Accountability to determine how well we the program is benefiting the community and the level of services versus the need.
We recently had a referral from a New Haven alderwoman concerned about a resident that had not received unemployment benefits yet and had no food at home for the family. Now, when she applied for state assistance they still consider her income to be from unemployment even doe she was not receiving the assistance yet. They still processed the application like she was receiving the unemployment because after asking her questions they knew she was going to get it. With the income being from unemployment it meant she could not get the cash assistance she had applied for that was more money than the unemployment benefits. After helping the client with the immediate crisis of being with no food, client had trust in us and worked with us to complete a family service plan that included employment services. Client after a few months was able to find a job.
Within the Fall 2012( September – December) and end of Spring 20123(January – May) semesters achievements will include:
ESL: 85% of students have the ability to apply English language learning in their everyday situations.
Letras (ABE Spanish): 45% of students will transition into ESL, GED or any other programs by the end of the first year. 55% will exhibit more motivation to learn to read.
The ultimate change involves people changing the course of their lives because of education, making sure they experience an increased quality of life.
ESL- 75% of students obtain better employment opportunities because of increase language acquisition
GED- 100% graduation rate; 85% post grad placement in the job market because of obtaining a GED.
"Letras" ABE Spanish: 80% of students have functional literacy (ability to read signs, take drivers license test in their native language etc.) in order to lead independent lives. 50% transitioned into ESL courses within one year.
We assess what is working and not working through a series of tracking tools:
Pre-Placement testing for each class to assess the level of each student, which level course they should be placed, and if additional tutoring is necessary. Post testing is conducting to assess the progress of each student, and whether they can transition to a higher level or a different course. Students fill out surveys at the end of each class, providing information on their views of the agency, course and teacher performance. As with all of our programs, we have instituted the Results Based Accountability (RBA) model to drive how our students succeed, and the strength of our program model.
90% graduation rate for GED students in 2013
Case scenario: About five years ago, we had a student who had very little English language skills. Coming from Puerto Rico, she came to Junta to learn English. Within two years of the program, she acquired intermediate level English skills. Through her commitment, the support of our instructors and tutors, she successfully learned the language and was able to obtain a job as an Administrative Assistant…at Junta. She also conducts English to Spanish translations. She is truly a success story, and the type of impact we want to have for our community.
The Economic Development Program empowers clients by helping them to become , employable and employed, and helps increase income through employment skills training, employment placement and free tax return services to low to moderate income individuals and families. Within employment we prepare people for the workforce through computer literacy training courses, resume preparation, interviewing skills, and job placement assistance through our relationships with area businesses and companies.
40% of unemployed clients will obtain long-term employment through our program.
65% of computer literacy students will be competent in basic computer skills by the end of each session.
80% of VITA tax clients will receive income tax returns that can be used as savings or supplemental income.
60% of employment clients will
maintain employment beyond one year, and have the ability to obtain essentials
for daily life, including housing, transportation and food.
65% of clients who obtain
employable skills training (computer literacy, resume building, interviewing
skills) obtain employment within six months.
Success is monitored through case follow up from the Program Director. The Director conducts follow up with clients at three, six, nine and twelve months, to assess their current situation. She tracks case notes in our client database. This program also utilizes Results Based Accountability frameworks to determine the success of the program. Within computer literacy and classes, pre and post surveys are conducted by students to determine how well they retained the information and their views on the course.
Client Profile: An ex-offender was literally dropped off by the Department of Corrections in New Haven. He met someone on the streets who told him to go to Junta for help. When we met him he was wearing grey sweat pants and an oversized white t-shirt and carrying a brown paper bag with his personal effects inside. He looked worn out and in great need. Our Economic Development Director took him to a shelter for the night. Within less than a month, we found him a job as a dishwasher at a restaurant in Milford. He had very little money for transportation, no family in the area and very few resources. He got a ride to Milford and accepted the job immediately. He was determined to work, even if it meant walking or hitching rides. He’s now sharing an apartment with someone he met at the shelter and continues to commute to Milford to work by bus. His life has truly turned around due to his determination to change his circumstances.
Establish support for and formalize the Youth Action Committee, a core group of youth devoted to advocacy and organizing around issues that affect our population and their personal lives.
Legislative advocacy that addresses human and civil rights issues across ethnicity, citizenship status and socioeconomic lines, including worker's rights, healthcare and discrimination. Currently, the passing of legislation that will unfreeze the wages of tipped workers.
All immigrants are given full human rights and are treated with respect and dignity.
Residents are engaged in social change through personal involvement and advocacy.
Our core measurement tool will include the “Advocacy and Policy change Composite Logic Model” created by the Harvard Family Research Project. This tool tracks communications and community organizing, advocacy capacity, policy and politics. Success will be monitored by how well residents stay engaged and informed in creating social change. We will track individual participation and the progression of issues affecting the community. Within advocacy, we will track how well policy proposals and/or recommendations are communicated on legislative levels. We will measure awareness of issues through tracking contacts with legislators and other leaders.
Creation and management of the Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance (CIRA), which has 40 organizations and activists from throughout the state involved and advocating for immigrant rights.
Passed legislation in the first year of the program, The Connecticut Trust Act.
Sandra Trevino is originally from Texas and is a graduate of the University of Texas-Brownsville with a B.A. in Psychology. She received her Masters in Social Work from the University of Texas-Pan American. Sandra is a Board Certified Clinical Social Worker specializing in childhood mental disorders. She was also a clinical instructor for two years at the Yale Child Study Center. In 2010 Sandra was awarded the Elm Ivy Award by the City of New Haven and Yale University for partnerships with Yale Law School, Dwight Hall and the President’s Public Service Fellowship. Prior to becoming JUNTA’s Executive Director, Sandra served as the Licensed Program Coordinator for The Neighborhood Place, JUNTA’s therapeutic arts, after-school and summer program.
Latrina was born and raised in New Haven. She began her career as an editor for a custom publishing company in Norwalk, CT after graduating from Southern Connecticut State University in 2001 with a B.A. in English Literature. Latrina’s experience in non-profits includes work as a development associate at the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, and volunteering with Integrated Refugee & Immigration Services, Hill Development Corporation and Hill Neighborhood Forum. She is on the Advisory Board for the Coordinating Council of Children in Crisis, and is a former commissioner of the Civil Service Board for the City of New Haven.
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