Edu Futuro helps immigrants bridge the gap

November 14, 2012

For many Latino families who’ve recently immigrated to the Virginia area, Edu Futuro is a home away from home. Located in Arlington, the nonprofit was founded in 1998 by a group of parents from Bolivia who wanted to provide a support network for the educational needs of Latino students and families.

Since then, the organization has created several programs for youth and adults and recently was awarded $22,000 by the Washington Post Charities fund.

One of its most successful programs is the Emerging Leaders program, which pairs high school students with mentors in a wide range of professions to provide guidance and support. The students also participate in public speaking workshops, volunteer to clean up the grounds at local schools and go on college visits.

“We’re working with families where English is not their first language, and sometimes they don’t know about all the resources available to them. We are there to bridge that gap,” said Eneida Alcalde, executive director of Edu Futuro.

For Rodrigo Ventiades, a senior at Washington Lee High School, the four years he’s spent at Edu Futuro have been life-changing. Born in Bolivia, Ventiades moved to Falls Church at age 5 with his mother, Maritza Monterro.

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Looking for a support network, his mother joined Escuela Bolivia, the former name of Edu Futuro, and when Ventiades entered high school he became a part of their Emerging Leaders program.

The first in his family to go to college, Ventiades realized he wanted to become a cardiologist during a college visit to Virginia Commonwealth University with Edu Futuro. Ventiades’ 6-year-old brother, Nikolas, was diagnosed with a heart condition at birth.

“I want to be able to help him and other kids like him,” Ventiades said.

His current mentor, a student at George Washington University who interned on Capitol Hill, has helped him apply to colleges and has proofread a few of his essays.

Through Edu Futuro, Ventiades has received scholarships for his college textbooks and been nominated for a Posse Scholarship, which covers tuition costs for promising students from diverse backgrounds.

Edu Futuro also works to highlight the many Latino cultures in the community — Bolivian, Cuban, Mexican and others, Alcalde said.

“When I was growing up there wasn’t a place like Edu Futuro for me, and it was really hard,” said Alcalde, whose parents were also immigrants.

“It’s important that students get the tools they need to be successful in the United States while still appreciating the culture they’ve come from,” Alcalde said.

For more stories on Washington Post Charities grant recipients, go to washingtonpost.com/community-relations/charitable-giving.

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