Four Decades Helping Latinos Succeed in CT

Spanish Community of Wallingford has been helping residents find resources, celebrate their cultures and thrive in Connecticut.

Students of The Escuela Guadalupana de Música, learn the basics of mariachi music and tradition, choose an instrument to study and eventually perform for the residents of Wallingford and all across the state.

In the last several years, Spanish Community of Wallingford Inc. (SCOW) has seen a nearly 600% rise in its clientele. People come to the nonprofit looking for educational, cultural and health programs.

SCOW's array of services, along with alliances made with town government and social service departments, has helped Latinos in the area succeed and share their rich, varied cultures with the broader community.

"All of our after-school programs, including Music, Youth Leadership and STEM Academy, are designed to enrich the lives of our children and youth," says former Executive Director Maria Campos-Harlow. "We are proud to see how – through their participation in the programs – they gain confidence, celebrate their heritage and become more involved in their community. As they grow, they become part of the next generation of Latinos that will contribute to the success of our State."

SCOW offers children and teens the opportunity to train in The Escuela Guadalupana de Música, often referred to as the Mariachi Academy. Children as young as seven receive basic music instruction and theory, then choose an instrument to train on. The Mariachi Academy performs several concerts each year for Wallingford residents and in towns around Connecticut.

Support for Academy concerts and other events has been provided by The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven over the last few years. In 2015, a grant from The Foundation's Year-Round Small Grants program, using unrestricted funds, enabled SCOW to purchase a new computer server for its office. The faster, updated server allowed SCOW's Access Health CT certified assistant to help more individuals looking to apply for health insurance through Access Health CT over the last two years.

Ms. Campos-Harlow served as a panelist in the Progreso Latino Fund's September forum "Celebrating Latino Leaders: Leading from Where You Are." Read more about that here. For more information about Spanish Community of Wallingford, visit its website.

Did You Know?

Research shows many of the students who are in mariachi programs, like many other elementary and secondary school music programs, succeed in school and continue on to college. Prestigious schools such as UCLA, MIT and Stanford support mariachi training with additional courses and ensembles.
Source: "The Magic of Mariachi," UCLA Magazine, 2013