Chicanos Por La Causa opens new engagement center in Maryvale

Chicanos Por La Causa, the Phoenix-based non-profit organization inspired by the movement of activist Cesar Chavez, has seen promising expansion year over year since it began a half century ago. From offering health services to underserved Hispanic community members in Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada, to connecting employers with potential employees in the Phoenix area, CPLC has continued its mission of promoting stronger and healthier communities.

That same sentiment was put on full display recently as CPLC debuted its new engagement center in Maryvale, a hub for local youth and adults looking for the right resources and tools to get them lined up with future job opportunities, education and training they need to advance their careers and well being.

The center, which had a soft opening in January, opened fully to the surrounding west valley community, offering all who enter an opportunity to partake in everything from 6-8-week courses that could get them ready for a solid career in banking to three- or four-day training programs that could set them up for customer service or retail roles.

“Our long-term goal is to reduce unemployment in Maryvale and the west valley,” said Victor Contreras, Director of Workforce Development at CPLC. “We want to make the case to build a community to serve the city. [There are] a lot of underemployed people in Maryvale. They just need to be connected to resources.”

Contreras says that another goal for the engagement center is to serve 10,000 individuals each year with a major focus on the area’s youth and workers of tomorrow. They can head into the center and get help with job applications, work placement and the right training for an opportunity virtually waiting for them right out of the program.

CPLC has put an emphasis on partnering with small businesses in the Greater Phoenix area. But it’s also brought in such big-name companies as Starbucks, Bank of America, and Chase for the workforce development programs at the new center.

“We’re trying to align services on the workforce side and training and college to help people scale up and find new career pathways,” Contreras said.

The center, an 8,000 square foot repurposed space within a former retail center, provides job training programs to set community members up with work. Many see new jobs open up within 30 days of completing a program, like bilingual banking training, which sets potential workers up for more available job opportunities, especially in a community that is in need of multi-lingual representatives in retail and customer service. Those who take advantage of the center’s services can gain skills in problem solving, critical thinking as well as adding to experience they already have.

The Maricopa County Community College District joined Chicanos Por La Causa to celebrate Maryvale’s new engagement center for a daylong career fair on opening day, which connected nearly 400 individuals with local employers.

The career fair was part of a larger initiative by the Maryvale Workforce Initiative Project, where MCCCD is a charter member and now a partner in the center.

“MCCCD is extremely pleased to establish our presence in the Maryvale communities. We appreciate the community and partnership that has brought us to Maryvale,”  mentioned Matt Hasson, District spokesperson.

The center is also a place for continuing education courses for working adults and GED courses for those looking to complete the education they sought when they were younger.

“Because the engagement center is our own space and we have lots of classroom space, we can be very agile. If we have a need in the community, such as a GED class, we can supply that right away,” Contreras said.

Nick Esquer

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