The fourth installment in our ongoing series, this month’s Partner Spotlight features a short Q&A between PE’s Director of Programs Syda Segovia Taylor and Luis Bermudez, Director of Neighborhood, Collaborations, and Partnerships at The Resurrection Project (TRP). 

A pillar of the Pilsen community, TRP’s community work covers a broad range of topics, including housing, economic development, health, education, immigration, and more. This week they celebrate their 25th anniversary with a gala event. Please visit their website, resurrectionproject.org to learn more about their work. 

Syda Segovia Taylor: What can you tell us about the community you work in?

Luis Bermudez: In Pilsen, it’s primarily Mexican/Mexican American, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation. Our community is deep in arts and cultures, we have the national Mexican American Museum of the Arts and there are murals all over the neighborhood that date back to the late 60’s. It’s a working class neighborhood. For the past 25 years, Pilsen has been dealing with gentrification and that’s where TRP comes in to play. The neighborhood is in transition, so trying to accommodate young people that aren’t of Mexican decent in addition to the long standing residents. It’s a really hip place to be with great business, cafes, and music venues and it’s close to downtown. It’s a community in transition, but still needs resources: economic equality, many foreclosures, homeless, and need for better education. Even though this is the place to be, there is still a disparity.

SST: How would you describe your organization’s work with youth?

LB: Through the Elev8 program we’ve been able to serve more youth. In the last 7-8 years we’ve been able to engage and serve over 2,000 youth through our OST programs. We also engage with families through our financial and housing programs. TRP originally was a housing organization to counteract the foreclosures. It was a community of renters, not home owners, so TRP helped residents form their credit through programs and we have evolved to what TRP is today. Our goal with education is to provide quality OST program with math, science, and the arts. And help youth gain leadership skills through programs like Mikva Challenge, where students learn how to advocate for themselves and their community. We are going to start instituting Peace Circles and Peer Juries. We also want to instill accountability.

SST: How does partnering with Project Exploration help your organization advance your mission and/or goals?

It’s also important to engage our young ladies, especial in math and science. We believe we really need to get our young Latinas through high school, post-secondary, and have them come back to the community to mentor and be an example to the other young ladies. The hope of TRP is that we have a long term investment in the youth so they can be a vital resource in the neighborhood and participate with civil action when needed, instead of someone from the outside making decisions for them and the community. We want them to be able to make informed decisions. By bringing women, especially accomplished scientists, into the neighborhood will help spark a thirst for more knowledge and better life. That’s what happened to me, my mentor made me want to go to college and want something different from what was around me. I was living in an environment that didn’t push past high school. I think that girls feel it’s frowned upon. Even though its 2015, girls feel like it’s frowned upon to ask questions and it’s sad that you can’t ask questions about life, and how things works. That’s what kills the spirit. Asking questions is what affects change.

SST: What role do you see science playing in the development of your community?

LB: The world is really moving at a fast pace and it would be a disservice to our community if we didn’t create learning opportunities around science and technology. Nowadays everything is dictated by technology, you have to know how to use a computer, email. People don’t even talk any more – they text. Project Exploration helps by engaging our youth early and inspires our young ladies to look toward post-secondary education in the field of science and technology.

 

 

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