PUENTE Learning Center Helping to Make the American Dream Possible
For Nicole, PUENTE Learning Center’s free college program was a lifeline during the pandemic. A first-generation college student who was raised in a single-parent household, Nicole joined PUENTE’s college program as a senior in high school and with its help went on to attend East Los Angeles College. Then the pandemic broke out and everything changed. School went virtual and Nicole needed to care for her ailing grandmother. She was so overwhelmed she nearly dropped out of school.
But her PUENTE case manager stepped in and connected Nicole to campus resources and persuaded her to stay in school. That support, knowing someone was in her corner, was just what Nicole needed.
PUENTE Learning Center, located in the heart of Boyle Heights, a largely immigrant community in East Los Angeles, has been a community hub for 37 years, providing educational and career pathways for the predominantly Latino residents as they strive to live the American dream.
“The immigrant story is the story of this nation and there is no timeline for when that story should end,” Jerome Greening, PUENTE’s CEO, says.
PUENTE, Spanish for bridge, grabs the opportunities that may seem out of reach and makes them possible through various programs that, in addition to their college program, include a preschool, an elementary school, career guidance and preparation, and adult education and workforce development classes.
Each year, 2,000 children, teenagers, and adults come to PUENTE’s 45,000-square-foot community center. A critical piece of the learning curriculum for children – a third of whom speak Spanish as a primary language – is to help them achieve a solid foundation in English, which will prepare them to be more successful for middle school, high school, and then college, Greening says.
The pandemic, Greening adds, has exacerbated the educational and economic divide for many students of color and from lower-income households. Without help, impacted students like Nicole are more likely to postpone or abandon their higher education dreams and goals.
“Because of PUENTE, I stuck with the school. Without PUENTE, who knows, maybe I would have dropped out,” Nicole says. “Now, I feel much more confident in pursuing my education, because I have people backing me up.”
Vice President of Advancement: Matt Wells
We are PUENTE: People United to Enrich the Neighborhood Through Education. Building bridges to learning and opportunity in Boyle Heights and beyond.
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My family and I have supported PUENTE Learning Center for many years because we firmly believe in the power of education to improve lives. Everyone should have the tools to succeed, no matter their zip code, income, or ethnic background. It is so impressive that PUENTE has created such a welcoming environment for the Boyle Heights community to access vital resources. Now more than ever, nonprofits must nurture the trust and confidence of their clients, and PUENTE continues to do just that. PUENTE Learning Center is helping to create a better and stronger Los Angeles, and I am so grateful for their high-impact work.
Put a Young Person on a Path to College With a Gift of $3,000
PUENTE Learning Center’s College and Career Program has an astounding success rate, with 97% of high school seniors in the program enrolling in college. From there, PUENTE follows the students through post-secondary school, helping them leverage their talents for the workforce.
In order to maintain its efforts in preparing young people on their path to college or the workforce, PUENTE is asking for individual donations to cover program costs including $3,000 scholarships for books, food, access to paid internships, case management, and counselors. The total amount of money needed is $450,000 to fund the program through 2024.
and Elizabeth Gregory Riordan
Helen and Will Webster Foundation
Rose Hills Foundation
Citi Foundation – Community
Progress Maker Award
Ralph M. Parsons Foundation
and Maria Hummer-Tuttle
Thomas and Dorothy
Carl and Roberta
Snell & Wilmer
Citizens Business Bank
Nike – Community Impact Fund
USC – Good Neighbors Program
Los Angeles Lakers Youth Fund