The Latino Community Center was founded in 1999 and has grown quickly from one small after-school program to a full array of programs serving community members of all ages.
The Center was featured in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article as one of the “Ten Reasons for Hope” for the city of Milwaukee.
The Center serves one of Milwaukee’s most diverse and impoverished communities on Milwaukee’s near Southside, including the 53204 and 53215 zip codes. It is a young, ethnically and racially diverse neighborhood, in which young people 17 and under make up almost a third of the population.
The Latino Community Center’s (LCC) mission is to “meet and respect youth and families where they are — re-empowering them to change their negative situations into positive personal, academic and professional outcomes through programs that strengthen their abilities and aspirations.”
Latino Community Center offers after school academic enrichment, gang and violence diversion, recreation, youth development, prevention programming, street outreach, summer programming, and healthy girls programming.
The Center’s programming is based on best practices in the field of positive youth development to ensure effectiveness. Structured and unstructured, bilingual and bicultural opportunities reach a wide variety of at-risk youth in the area, including gang members, young girls, out-of-school youth and teenaged males.
The strength of LCC lies in a strong grassroots community approach. The majority of the staff and volunteers were raised and continue to live in the neighborhood served by the LCC.
Youth seek out the Center as a safe place where they can be with positive adult role models and stay away from dangerous situations. LCC provides a Young Professionals Academy (YPA) where students are guided through three phases of comprehensive training: (1) Employability Skills (2) Job Retention Skills (3) and Life Skills.
In addition, LCC runs Community Learning Centers (CLC) at Kagel Elementary School and South Division High School and a program called ¡Soy Unica! ¡Soy Latina! (“I’m Unique! I’m a Latin Girl!”), designed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration as a bilingual initiative to help Latina girls ages 9-14 to gain the self-esteem needed to make healthy choices, learn refusal skills, and resist negative social pressures.
Teen Nights offered at the Center twice a week for teens only, featuring poetry, music, dancing and art to impart positive lessons about self-esteem, staying in school, and more. And Summer Programming gives youth and teens in the target neighborhood a safe place to go during the summer months, with a wide array of fun, safe, academic, recreational, social, and cultural activities including but not limited to summer school, homework help, and field trips such as swimming, bowling, miniature golf, movies, museum, zoo, basketball and football.
The LCC is a safe haven for many youth on Milwaukee’s near south side community and a good neighbor in the hood.