CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - An advocacy group for the local Hispanic community plans to expand a teen mentoring program.
Friday, Esperanza Inc. announced it won $52,000 from the Larry Doby Fund. Staffers say the money will be used to expand on what they're already doing in the community.
"The grant will be used to support our mentoring program. we've had a mentoring program for many years and we've found it to have some of the best outcomes of our youth to increasing attendance and GPA and gradation," said Victor Ruiz, Executive Director.
Esperanza cites recent studies that shows strong connections between youth who participate in mentoring programs and a significant reduction in violent crimes. Ruiz says for the last 34 years, Esperanza has been a bright spot in the neighborhood, a safe-haven for young people to grow and learn.
Joseph Lattore is one of those young people. He says Esperanza got him off the streets and saved his life.
"This is my second family. If I didn't have this here then I'd probably be doing a lot of bad stuff. I had a lot of negativity and bad influence in my life and because of this program I've been able to change my life around and have a more successful future," he said.
The goal is to do even more and reach those who need it the most.
Lattore plans to give back and mentor after he graduates high school.
Esperanza is always looking for mentors and volunteers and everyone is welcome to serve. You can find out more by visiting here.