Our inaugural career exploration program for local Latinx youth, Nuestro Futuro, has completed its first phase but that doesn’t mean that efforts have waned.

In April, the program wrapped up at Calapooia Middle School where the program’s students explored their heritage and their personal interests and how that can factor into their future career pursuits. The students were also partnered with mentors and community business leaders who taught them about career and higher education options that may have been outside their purview.

Most recently, Nuestro Futuro has shifted its focus to serve middle school students living in the Colonia Paz neighborhood, a Spanish-speaking community in Lebanon. Along with the shift in participants, Nuestro Futuro facilitator, Dominga Sanchez, has also implemented a new outlook on the program’s curriculum.

The refreshed program is now teaching students about STEAM and skilled trades careers like manufacturing in the budding semi-conductor industry, non-destructive testing, and engineering by introducing students to applicable skills at the most fundamental levels. The participants will build on these skills through engaging and hands-on activities throughout the remainder of the school year.

Additionally, the Nuestro Futuro scope has broadened to include Latinx in local high schools. At the beginning of May 2024, Sanchez partnered with Angel Dorantes, DEI Latino Outreach and Retention Manager at Linn-Benton Community College to host the inaugural Latine High School Leadership Conference on the Albany campus. The event included 35 highly engaging workshops, 38 college and industry agencies, non-profit and community resource fair exhibitors, two keynote speakers, and three $1200 scholarships gifted to students in attendance. The event had nearly 200 students in attendance, a true testament to the desire for engagement of our Latinx youth by their families, community, and educators.

This program wraps up at the end of June. Planning for further Nuestro Futuro programming in the upcoming 2024-25 school year is underway and updates will be made available in the coming months.