Esperanza Current News

Hundreds of families benefit from school-supplies drive

Something as simple as a backpack or pencil pouch may be easily taken for granted. But for many students, supplies like these help start a new school year off right.

Generous donors allowed Esperanza to help hundreds of families by coordinating a school supplies drive this summer. Here are just a few of our photos.




Art show exhibits Esperanza students as producers of culture

A handful of lucky Cleveland youth were Producers of Culture in a unique summer experience at Esperanza and the Beck Center.

Producers of Culture was facilitated by professional artist Martinez E.B Garcias, whose intent is to introduce to his audience a new way of understanding urban life by re-contextualizing certain signs and symbols found in the inner-city.

Martinez urged the young artists to express their own feelings and visions while exploring their culture. Some students included the flags of their native countries, while others looked to the future with uncertainty and hope.

The major installation is a tile “education wall” containing the artists’ vision of what education “should be.” Other works include 13 separate visual-art pieces that explore each artist’s feelings in response to interviewing a senior citizen, comparing the elder’s culture and heritage to the student's own. The works depict both the generational divide that many youth feel, and the impressive unity of values and experiences across generations and cultures.



The students' mural was on display at the Beck Center for the Performing Arts, as part of the Hispanic Art, Hispanic Heritage Exhibit through October 6, 2013. The creations were displayed at Bruno Casiano Gallery, 5304 Detroit Avenue, in August. Youth received a stipend through Cuyahoga County’s Summer Youth Employment Program, and Cuyahoga Arts and Culture provided funding for materials. See more great photos here and here.

Community activists, literary giants, and budding artists

Thirty Summer of Hope participants experienced service in new ways this summer.

The high-school students were employed through the county’s Summer Youth Employment Program, but program coordinators Yasin Cuevas and Reema Suwahil made it anything but a make-work project. They focused the students on community service and engaged a lot of learning along the way.

Under Reema’s tutelage, students worked on several literary projects. Singly or in small groups, students wrote articles about topics of importance to them: teen pregnancy, immigration, and being true to yourself. The El Vocero community newspaper created a section for Esperanza for the summer and ran six of the students' articles. They were so proud to see their by-lines!

Community service projects with Yasin included cleaning and painting classrooms at Lincoln West and Luis Muñoz Marin schools, and packing food at the Cleveland Food Bank. Even though it was difficult work, the participants expressed a sense of pride in working together to improve their neighborhood. Deborah said, “I feel I made a big impact in the community… each day made me feel good about myself knowing that it helped someone. Thank you.”

Back in the Esperanza office and Cleveland Public Library downtown, they researched, wrote, and designed children’s books, ensuring that each had an uplifting message or educational purpose. The best three books will be printed and delivered to Luis Muñoz Marin elementary school 2nd and 3rd graders.

This project provided the opportunity for students to learn skills that will enable them to improve their grades and compete in college. With few computers in the schools or in their homes, students don’t use common computer programs such as Word or PowerPoint to do homework and write papers. Writing and designing the books and creating personal email accounts prompted Summer of Hope participants to learn the programs quickly. Thanks to Esperanza, they are better prepared for higher-level learning.

Cleveland’s biggest new story of the year presented the students with an opportunity for learning, personal pride, and community activism. Following the release of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight, the high schoolers researched other Ohioans who are missing. The students found they became very connected to the victims and empathized with their families. They selected two of the missing persons, and Baldwin Wallace University printed their photos on posters. The students and volunteers, including members of Gina’s family, carried them in the Puerto Rican Day parade to raise awareness of missing persons. Several students made impassioned speeches. Their activism was included in stories carried on Channel 5, Good Morning America, and Primer Impacto.

“Working for Esperanza is also a help for the future for whenever you are in need of a job," Derian told us. "We had fun with the jobs we did; also we have a bond with our co-workers that no one can take away from us. I thank God for letting me have this experience with these people. Without it I think I’d be slacking somewhere doing things I would regret… it has been a memorable summer."

STEAM was a source of summer energy for curious students

It was a STEAMy summer for 21 curious middle-schoolers from Esperanza’s neighborhood. Excited students spent six weeks studying the scientific method and principles at the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics Academy.

Lest you think this to be dull stuff for summer, the participants were energetic and enthused about the hands-on learning that included astronomy and Mars exploration. Program Coordinator Kristina Haddad used activities, games, videos and projects that are part of the training she recently attended at NASA Glenn Research Center. Students incorporated their learning into a science fair project that compared the craters on Mars.

WOIO-TV Chief Meteorologist Jon Laufman led activities on weather and field trips around Cleveland adding to the fun learning experiences. STEAM students were especially impressed with the MC2 High School at Nela Park where they toured and used science and engineering equipment.

A Service Learning component was incorporated into the STEAM Academy curriculum, as well. The students planned the project and created bilingual-alphabet coloring books for the Euclid Daycare Academy. In them, each letter represented a different scientific theme. Students traveled to the daycare to read the book and deliver a copy to each student.

The busy six weeks culminated in a science fair where students displayed experiments, engineering designs, and tests that they had created. Each project demonstrated that the students understood the scientific method and applied it.

Family and friends were invited to hear students’ presentations, and community members and Esperanza staff judged the entries. The winning projects were: “How much grease is in various brands of potato chips?,” “Which cleaner would clean different stains the best?,”  and “An Exploding Volcano!” There was much pride of accomplishment on display, too.

Esperanza thanks intern and science major Tanesha Reed, the STEAM volunteers, and NASA for donating training, the curriculum, and a grant that supported the cost of supplies and transportation.

Fiesta of Hope 2013 awards 83 scholarships to deserving Hispanic students

There were hugs. There were tears. There were standing ovations.

There were 83 people standing on stage receiving applause, certificates, and college scholarships. Esperanza was awarding the scholarships, but the crowd of a thousand in the Renaissance Hotel Ballroom was awarding praise and encouragement to these outstanding and intrepid Hispanic scholars.

It was an amazing and rewarding 2013 Fiesta of Hope Scholarship Luncheon.

Jacob Rivera (above), recipient of the Esperanza and Cleveland State University Scholarship, and Miguel Sanchez, awarded the President Emeritus Scholarship, eloquently shared their personal stories that brought many to tears, but we knew that the others on the stage were just as determined to go to college and become successful contributors to their communities. Student had already impressed a discerning panel of judges with their personal essays and individual interviews, and represented a wide array of future careers including forensic science, occupational therapy, graphic design, aviation management, early childhood education, nursing, architecture, Spanish, engineering, and business.

Watching these collegians left us knowing that our future is in good hands.

Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton, outgoing president of Cuyahoga Community College, spoke about the bounty of diversity in our community and our country. We have much to look forward to if we nurture the gifts of the many cultures that call Cuyahoga County home.

Mark your 2014 calendar now for Fiesta of Hope on June 27, and make your contribution to Esperanza at esperanzainc.org or by texting ESPERANZA to 28594.

Donors make the difference

It is gratifying that individuals, foundations, and corporations support Esperanza’s excellent work through financial contributions. It is their investments that enable us to provide services to everyone without charge.

We are pleased to announce that we received grants from the Eaton Corporation, Fun(d) First, Verizon, the Impacta Kids Foundation and the Treu-Mart Foundation for the first time in 2012 to serve our Hispanic youth. A full list of funders is published in our Annual Report and updated regularly online.

We are grateful for our generous and inspiring individual donors, who gave over $10,000--the highest amount ever--during last year’s Annual Campaign. Not only does their generosity mean we can help more students to graduate and go on to rewarding and productive lives, it signals their caring to those students.

We also warmly welcome 16 new scholarship donors to the Esperanza family, who enabled us to award $93,200 in scholarships to 93 students this year, another record.

Please join us in investing in our youth, our future, by considering a secure on-line donation this holiday season. GRACIAS.

PROFILE: From activity to reality

Smart. Cute. Ambitious. Friendly. Funny. Arelis Latimer is all these and more.

The 17-year-old senior at Lincoln West High School in Cleveland has been an active member of Esperanza’s Hispanic Youth Leadership Program (HYLP) for two years which, she says, helped her to explore career options and select the perfect one for her.

“Architecture and environmental design, because I’m really good at math and I like art. I’ve applied to Kent State and Bowling Green, and I might apply to the University of Cincinnati. I know I’ll have to get a Master’s degree, too.” Through HYLP, Arelis has visited Kent State and Bowling Green, which she would not have done otherwise.

The program also helped her gain leadership skills, plan for her future, and improve her grades. She now has higher aspirations for herself, she admits. Making new friends who have college and career goals as well is a great benefit—and lots of fun, too.

Arelis got a summer job this year through Esperanza, she says with her adorable grin. “I worked at Catholic Charities. We learned how to make puppets and put on puppet shows, we made coloring books, and did other activities with anti-drug messages. I was really glad to have a job. I have a lot to thank Esperanza for.”

MEDIA: Esperanza’s programs, progress get attention in media this week


From family engagement to increasing graduation rates, Esperanza's programs were highlighted in several media outlets this week including The Plain Dealer, Channel 3, and WCPN's Sound of Ideas.


WKYC Channel 3


Sound of Ideas


The Plain Dealer: Parental involvement in schools leads to successful students, stronger schools | Sunday, November 11

Esperanza honored with top Cleveland prize

In a delightful surprise, the Cleveland Foundation and Center for Community Solutions presented the prestigious $20,000 Anisfield-Wolf Memorial Award to Esperanza in October for its 2011 Summer of Hope.

Forty high school students volunteered up to 30 hours each week for eight weeks at eight diverse community organizations. After each day of service, the participants reflected on their experiences through a blog. Not only did the program result in 1,283 volunteer hours for the community that summer, it led to a new youth-driven service learning component that has had a direct impact in the Clark-Metro neighborhood of Cleveland and other parts of the city.

In presenting the award, Kathleen Hallissey of the Cleveland Foundation remarked, “Esperanza created an opportunity for students and their families to develop a culture of giving, to ‘pay it forward’ to others in their community. As those students recognize the positive results of their volunteer service, they in turn inspire their peers to participate and foster the spirit of volunteerism across our community. We encourage them to continue on that path and make community service an integral part of their lives.”

Beck Center Celebrates Hispanic Heritage

Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood is featuring a vibrant exhibition of work by local Latino artists to celebrte Hispanic Heritage Month. The opening reception on September 14, 2012 launched the month long exhibition feauring prominens artists.

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Art Exhibits Celebrate Hispanic Cultural Heritage Month

To celebrate Hispanic Cultural Heritage Month, Beck Center for the Arts is pleased to present the Hispanic Art, Hispanic Heritage exhibit on display September 14 through October 14, 2012 in the Jean Bulicek Galleria. Discover the beauty of Hispanic culture through the eyes of 13 Hispanic artists from Northeast Ohio in artwork demonstrating their brilliant use of color, materials and expression.

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Global and Local: St. Martin de Porres | St. Ignatius

The storybook is a collection of more than 40 single-page stories — each written, illustrated and translated by a team of three students and conveying messages of hopefulness or overcoming adversity.
Over several days last winter and spring, St. Martin de Porres High School juniors teamed up with sixth-graders at Luis Muñoz Marin, a predominantly Hispanic public school in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood, to create bilingual storybooks that will be sent to a Honduran orphanage for HIV-positive children.

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Legal Aid Society of Cleveland’s Jam for Justice; Esperanza Fiesta of Hope: Society

A sellout crowd of 350 guests packed the Barley House in Cleveland on a smokin’ hot June 19 for the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland’s Jam for Justice fundraiser.

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Esperanza 22 year of Fiesta bigger and better

Esperanza Inc. celebrated the 22nd Fiesta of Hope and awarded 93 scholarships of $1,000 each to deserving students, with more than 750 supporters, parents and friends present at the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel on June 22, 2012.

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MetroHealth’s 2012 Esperanza Scholarship Recipient is Aspiring Psychologist

Yazmine Rosario is a recent high school graduate with aspirations of studying psychology. She’s on the path to fulfilling her dream, thanks in part to a scholarship sponsored by The MetroHealth System and administered by Esperanza, Inc.

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Health disparities and medical research focus of OHSSWA conference

Ohio Hispanic Social Service Workers Association (OHSSWA) held their 10th annual conference with main focus on Health Disparities, “Opening Paths towards the Horizon in Good Health” on April 14, 2012. More than 80 adults and children attended, participating in health workshops, met with local agencies dedicated to improving health, access and information.

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Group that helps city’s students finish college is moving ahead

An effort to ensure that more Cleveland students graduate from college is well under way six months after local civic leaders and educators decided to team up. And it’s clear that they have plenty of work ahead of them.

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Who’s ‘On the Move’ in the Cleveland area?

Esperanza Inc.: Felicia Soto, JP Morgan Chase, was elected president; Maria Haller, Sherwin-Williams Co., first vice president; Maribel Verdon, Cliffs Natural Resources, second vice president; Anibal Estremera, Cliffs Natural Resources, treasurer; and Ginny Whipkey, Insurance Consultants LLC, secretary. Those named to the board are Justin Perry, Cleveland State University; Danny Vazquez, Cuyahoga Community College; Manuel Dominguez, NASA; Andrew Connors, Fairport Asset Management; Robert Swellie, Ron Lang and Associates; Mary Kay Schneider, PNC Bank; David Proano, Baker & Hostetler; and Carlos Elias, Eaton Corp. The organization works to improve the academic achievement of Hispanics in Greater Cleveland.

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Hispanic Roundtable, OCHLA meet with politicos

Cleveland: The Hispanic Roundtable and the Ohio Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs (OCHLA) met with local delegates from Congress, Ohio House, and Senate, as well as Cleveland City Council on Monday, Jan. 30, 2012 to discuss policy matters affecting the Latino community.

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Fifth Third Invests $200,000 in Five Community Groups in Akron & Cleveland

The investments are going to three Cleveland-based groups: Esperanza, Inc., Neighborhood Progress, Inc., Friends of Breakthrough, Inc.,

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Addressing Barriers to Education in the Latino Community

In Northeast Ohio and across the nation, graduation rates remain low for underserved populations that are facing language and other barriers in pursuit of post-secondary education.

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