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ESPERE (Schools of Forgiveness and Reconciliation) Program

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Education , Peace
United States
Cycle Year
Rose Walker
503-992-0078 X 208
2030 Main St., Suite A
Forest Grove
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Support from the Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation would help us to expand upon this program and achieve the following goals for the upcoming program year: 1)Increase participation among adult education students by 25%; 2)Increase number of hours spent with upper-elementary youth in the Chicas Youth Development Program from four hours to 18 hours; 3)Increase the number of full (32-hour) workshops offered from two to four annually; two in Spanish and two in English; and 4)Train five new facilitators through the Train-the-Trainers Workshop.
Since 2009, Adelante Mujeres has provided ESPERE classes to all of our Adult Education students, as well as girls in grades 3-12 through our Chicas Youth Development Program. Recently we began offering a Train-the-Trainer workshop to expand the ESPERE curriculum to communities and organizations outside of our community, including the Oregon Child Development Coalition, Multnomah and Clackamas County Health Departments, and Hillsboro’s Domestic Violence Resource Center, among others. We believe ESPERE is an important tool to help reduce violence and to help solve problems across Oregon’s diverse communities and beyond.
Proposal Description
Adelante Mujeres, which means “Women Rise Up,” was founded in 2002 by a small group of Latina immigrants and allies who sought to improve quality of life for themselves and their community. Our mission is to provide holistic education and empowerment opportunities to low-income Latina women and their families to ensure full participation and active leadership in the community. Since our founding, we have worked with over 10,000 Latino families in Washington County, Oregon and currently serve 2,000 families a year. We are committed to developing healthy families and communities through education, entrepreneurship, environmental stewardship, and civic participation. The need to provide services to the Latino community in our local area continues to grow. Since 2010, Oregon’s Latino population has grown by more than 10%, making it the fastest growing ethnic group in the state. The rate of growth exceeds increases even in states with stronger Latino heritage, such as Texas and California. The Latino population in our service area of Washington County has grown from around 50,000 in the year 2000 to almost 90,000 in 2014. To fulfill our mission of empowering low-income Latina women, we must first address the barriers that often prevent them from being effective leaders in their homes and in their communities. One such barrier is lived violence and trauma. While research has shown that Latina women experience higher rates of intimate partner violence than white populations, they are also less likely to report such incidences due to a lack of access to culturally-competent services. Adelante Mujeres acknowledged that in order to build strong leaders who could contribute their skills and talents to the community in a way that fosters empathy and understanding, we must provide a safe space to educate women and provide them with the tools and practice needed to overcome trauma and address personal and societal conflict. Developed in Colombia in 2002 by Leonel Narváez Gomez, a Colombian educator, the ESPERE program is now implemented in more than 15 countries and its methodology was awarded by UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 2006. The goal of the program is to assure that education is empowering and leads to an engaged citizenry. ESPERE helps participants recognize the link between unprocessed trauma and the use of violence to manage daily frustrations and conflicts, while fostering a space for open dialogue. The ESPERE program provides a culturally-responsive focus on generational trauma and violence within a peer-centered learning environment. The structure of the ESPERE sessions gives the opportunity for participants to see others of the same culture who share similar challenges who also seek help, thus removing the stigma associated with mental health. Adelante Mujeres’ main focus has been on providing this program to the participants in our Chicas and Adult Education Programs, however, we have recently extended our reach beyond Washington County so that other organizations can access the resources and knowledge needed to reduce violence and conflict and create more peaceful dialogue. With the support of the Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation, we will provide the following program extension components: 1)ESPERE Community Workshop: A 32-hour workshop for the community-at-large within Washington and Multnomah Counties; 2)ESPERE Train-the-Trainers Workshop: A 32-hour, 8-week training to prepare new facilitators, especially those providing services to children, youth, and families; 3)ESPERE Cohort: An annual meeting with all certified facilitators to convene and enhance facilitation skills, share common challenges, and provide social and emotional support for one another. In 2016, Adelante Mujeres’ ESPERE Program equipped 647 participants (Chicas, Adult Education program participants, and the general public) with the tools to understand and practice forgiveness and reconciliation. Of the 500 youth that participated in the Chicas Program last year, 100% of the high school seniors graduated with their high school diploma and 100% of those same graduates enrolled in college. The skills that they developed in diplomacy, empathy, and compassion will be incorporated into their daily lives, not only to build more resilient and loving families, but also in every aspect of the leadership roles they will choose for themselves organizationally and within their communities. In addition, the women who take this course through our Adult Education Program are learning how to model positive, non-violent communication within their family structure, thus engaging their young children in social-emotional learning skills that will help them to thrive in life. We would be incredibly grateful to build a partnership with the Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation to ensure the continuation of the ESPERE Program for adults and youth in our programs and to expand upon our Train-the-Trainer model to reach more communities and organizations in Oregon. We hope that you will join us in our efforts to empower low-income Latina women in Oregon to become compassionate leaders in our community.