Aug 10, 2023 - News

Latino assistance program shuts down due to lack of funding

Students part of Al Exito in Des Moines

Al Éxito helps students and families through its Compa en Camino program. Photo: Courtesy of Al Éxito

A program created to help the local Latino community during the pandemic is suspending its services due to lack of funding.

Driving the news: Al Éxito is a local nonprofit that partners with schools and organizations statewide to help Latino youth enter college and leadership roles.

State of play: In March 2020, Al Éxito started "Compa en Camino," which means "partners on the go." It offered services like money for housing, interpreters, tutoring, food and internet access.

  • The program gave out $230,000 in financial assistance, as well as rent/mortgage payments for 56 families and reconnected utilities for 65 families, according to a statement from Al Éxito.

How it started: When schools closed in March 2020, Al Éxito conducted a survey of its students and realized many didn't have internet at home, executive director Dawn Martinez Oropeza tells Axios.

  • The program helped families get online, but it became apparent there were other systemic gaps that hurt students and their families, including lack of work, transportation, food and struggles paying utilities.
  • Those problems have continued past 2020, Oropeza says.

State of play: At its height, the program acquired nearly $1 million in pandemic and disaster-related grants from local and national organizations, including United Way of Central Iowa, Mid-Iowa Health Foundation and the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines.

  • It helped Des Moines students and their families, K-12th grade.

Yes, but: The lack of continued pandemic funding made it difficult to sustain the program, Oropeza says.

  • Recent fundraising requests also weren't fully granted.

What they're saying: Latinos are one of the fastest-growing populations in the state, but services provided aren't always accessible, including a translator or help for undocumented immigrants, Oropeza says.

The big picture: A March survey of nonprofits nationwide showed they expected lower fundraising amounts and new donors this year due to inflation and poor economic outlooks, according to Philanthropy News Digest.

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