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Drury students, faculty to partner with Grupo Latinoamericano on grant-funded projects in 2019

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., December 18, 2018 — Drury University students and faculty will work with Grupo Latinoamericano in 2019 to boost awareness of Hispanic issues in the Ozarks, thanks to a $15,000 grant from Community Foundation of the Ozarks.

The extensive and interdisciplinary partnership is designed to make a broad impact on Hispanic culture in the area and help Grupo Latinoamericano strengthen its mission of cross-cultural awareness. The grant award was the largest of six given this month as part of CFO’s inaugural Springfield-Greene County Diversity and Inclusion Program.

“We’re honored to receive this grant and excited to address the need for greater Hispanic community visibility through a number of hands-on projects that will involve undergraduate and graduate students and professors from different fields,” says Dr. Lina Gomez-Vasquez, assistant professor of communication. “It will be a multifaceted approach: web, social media, printed materials, radio programs, community panels, and more.”

During the project, Drury students and faculty will: 

  • Conduct an extensive redesign of Grupo Latinoamericano’s website
  • Host a monthly radio program on KDRU 98.1 FM focused on Hispanic issues, and archive the program as podcasts on Grupo Latinoamerican’s website
  • Produce white papers about issues of diversity in organizations and companies in Springfield
  • Host a cultural celebration and community panel during Hispanic Heritage Month
  • Conduct four media literacy and personal finance workshops in Spanish
  • Design and write bilingual promotional materials, flyers and brochures to promote Grupo Latinoamericanos’ work in the community

Political science faculty and the Meador Center for Politics & Citizenship will host the community panel discussion and immigration and citizenship training workshops. Faculty with the Breech School of Business will host the financial literacy workshop in Spanish. Dates for these events will be set in the coming weeks.

Drury’s commitment to outreach

Drury is committed to diversity and inclusion. The university’s student population is 19 percent nonwhite and 10 percent international, representing 55 countries.

Beyond the Drury campus, Hispanics now make up 4.2 percent of the Springfield population – the second-largest minority group after African Americans. In Greene County, Hispanics are the largest minority group. Neighboring counties have Hispanic populations as high as 10 (Barry) and 12 percent (McDonald). In Monett, where Drury has a campus location, the Hispanic population has increased 284 percent since 2000.

“Particularly at this cultural moment, when rhetoric around Hispanic immigrants can be so inflammatory, it is critically important to promote positive, factual information about the Hispanic population in Southwest Missouri,” says Emma Ruzicka, director of foundation and corporate relations at Drury. 

In 2016, Drury’s campus in Monett was the recipient of a five-year College Assistant Migrant Program (CAMP) grant through the Department of Education. The CAMP grant funds Drury-Monett’s Somos(We Are) Program. Through Somos, Drury-Monett offers full scholarships, comprehensive academic advising, and multidimensional educational support to migrant workers and their families in the area, the vast majority of whom are Hispanic.

Grupo Latinoamericano – 30 years of building bridges

Since 1989, Grupo Latinoamericano has focused on serving Hispanics and promoting cultural understanding to the broader community. While the group offers multiple direct services, including translation of legal and medical documents, ESL classes, and help to those seeking citizenship, its calling card is the traditional dances performed at festivals and events throughout southwest Missouri.

The grant-funded project will work to build on this successful and inspiring foundation, continuing to showcase the value and contributions of local Hispanic cultures while serving those in need. It will also draw on Drury’s experience, at its campus in Monett, as a liaison to a growing Hispanic population. In doing so, the project seeks to break down barriers, increase understanding, and counterattack negative messaging.

“We are a grassroots organization that does not receive any support for funds from a parent organization or from the government,” says Yolanda Lorge, president of Grupo Latinoamericano. “Since we are not a club, we don’t have a membership network – only our board of directors. So, we are always in need of help. This grant and the collaboration with Drury University to expand outreach with the community will hugely enhance the mission and work of our organization.”

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