Examining efforts to make a difference in Hispanic communities

Posted at 6:52 PM, Sep 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-29 19:50:22-04

(WXYZ) — Our celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month continues in tonight's 7 UpFront report as we honor local leaders who are making a difference in their community.

We're being joined by the Executive Director of Congress of Communities Maria Salinas to talk about it.

You can see the full interview in the video player above.

"I was born and raised in southwest Detroit and my vision was pretty much to help to start a youth trendline, a council. And so I founded an organization called Congress of Communities and through that organization, I've been able to, actually, be intentional on building leadership development for our young people through a youth council that now is 11-years-old," Salinas says. "We run 15 kids, young people, through a really intense one-year program and it's really not just teaching them to be leaders, but giving them experiences, like taking them kayaking, snowboarding, different activities so that they get out of the neighborhood. What they've been able to do which is really great 11 years into it our intention is to get them in and out of college. And so we've been really successful, we now have an alumni, think about 11 years, 15 kids a year, we now have an alumni that has taken on a lot of the work. This is a LatinX-only youth council. It's the only one in the metro area that's only for Latino young people and it really is about creating a platform where they can talk about their history, their challenges. We had a lot of DACA young people at the beginning, not as many anymore. We are actually in the middle of building a youth-driven community center in southwest Detroit that was the idea of the young people. They've done all the plans. They are actually part of the design, helping to raise the money. They actually do projects every year. They go to a program called youth dialog at the University of Michigan and they come out with a project. So they've done things like murals, podcasting, and the youth-driven house is on the projects that, three years ago the young people came up with that idea and we were able to raise this money. Thank you to Kresge and some of the funders who have helped us to get this house going."