Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Philadelphia Program Builds Bridges With Latino Youth

A Philadelphia after-school program known as Puentes Hacia El Futuro (bridges toward the future) is targeting working with Latino children who are English Language Learners in kindergarten through sixth-grade, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The program was created in 2010 through the nonprofit group Puentes de Salud, which operates a medical clinic and promotes health and wellness in South Philadelphia’s Latino immigrant community.

College and graduate students mentor and tutor students three times a week at the Southwark School in the Philadelphia school district. Many of the students are from Temple University. There are 57 students and 100 volunteers. Parents are also offered the opportunity to take English classes on campus.

This year the school has about 545 students, about 27 percent of whom are Latino.

Steven Larson, a doctor at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School who is one of the founders of Puentes de Salud, believes that the education program plays a role in improving public health. He points out that there are “social determinants of health,” such as language, that can impact wellness.

The program began when a medical student approached him with the idea.

“A lot of doctors say, ‘It’s not my problem,’” he told the Inquirer. “I beg to differ. It certainly is.”

What role do you think that healthcare organizations can play in helping school districts?