June 18, 2020 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Grand Rapids Community College is expanding its partnership with the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan, with the Hispanic Center assuming leadership in planning the annual Latino Youth Conference.
GRCC will continue hosting the event, an initiative designed to spark interest in college and careers among eighth-grade students. The next conference is planned for March 2, 2021.
About 830 students from 24 schools attended the conference this year. Participants are provided with affirming ideas about Latina/o/x culture, skills-based academic preparation, and tangible tools related to personal development and community engagement through workshops and interactive activities.
GRCC has been the lead organizer of the event for 21 years.
“We are honored to continue that legacy by serving in a supportive role to the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan,” said B. Afeni McNeely Cobham, GRCC’s Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer.
“After thoughtful discussions with conference stakeholders and Hispanic Center leadership, we determined the Hispanic Center is the best organization to develop further and enhance the impact of this community-centered project.”
Founded in 1978, the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan is located in the heart of Roosevelt Park, the largest Latino neighborhood in Grand Rapids. The Hispanic Center seeks to address the needs of Latinos through understanding, connection, advocacy, and achieving self-sufficiency together.
Hispanic Center Executive Director Adnoris “Bo” Torres said the conference is vitally important to inspire students, and he is excited the center can expand its role.
“One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from the book Walden; ‘To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know, what we do not know, that is true knowledge,’” Torres said.
“Those words would become a mantra for the rest of my life. Without mentors who exposed me to events like the Latino Youth Conference, who encouraged me, who motivated me, I would not have known the power of knowing what we know, and the humility in knowing what we don’t. As we partner with the West Michigan community in the work of the Latino Youth Conference, we know that we are molding the next generation of leaders.”
Grand Rapids Community College offers learners of all ages opportunities to gain credits for degrees or transfer and in-demand career skills leading to rewarding careers. GRCC was established in 1914 – Michigan’s first community college -- and offers affordable classes on weekdays, evenings, Saturdays and online at locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.