Ibero rolls out new language and cultural-training program

ROCHESTER — Ibero-American Action League will begin offering Spanish-language classes this month.

The classes are part of a new Language and Cultural Services Program that the nonprofit organization is offering to help businesses and individuals who work with or want to work with the Latino community or deal with companies in Latin American countries, explained Patricia Cruz-Irving.

As director of Ibero’s development and communications department, Cruz-Irving said she will oversee the fee-for-service program.

"As a dual-language agency, this (program) is something people have been coming to us about for many years," Cruz-Irving said. "It’s just a matter of that as a nonprofit, we are limited with manpower and it’s a balancing act with meeting the day-to-day needs."

The new program, though, will not only offer language classes but also provide cultural-competency training, translation services and focus group sessions, according to information at http://iaal.org/resources. The weekly 1.5-hour classes will cost $240 for a six-week session.

Language classes and translations will be provided by a pool of instructors who are independent contractors, explained Cruz-Irving. The other components will be taught by Ibero staff members who are bilingual and bicultural, she said.

The first class will include an assessment of students’ different speaking abilities to adjust the needs for subsequent classes, which will focus on business topics, she added.

The language and cultural training will help businesses and individuals stand out in their respective industries, as the cultural training is based on research and data about the growing Hispanic market in Rochester, according to information on Ibero’s website. Providing this program also helps Ibero stand out among the more than 250 nonprofit organizations competing for funding in the Rochester area, noted Cruz-Irving.

Additionally, as Ibero helps families in the community become self-sufficient, she said the organization also is looking to follow its own advice to increase revenue it raises on its own, she added. Since the Language and Cultural Services Program is fee-based, it will help increase the organization’s unrestricted funding revenue, which would not be connected to any specific program.

Those funds could in turn help Ibero serve more families through its child-care center, which consistently has a waiting list because of limited space at its Clifford Avenue location, Cruz-Irving said. Discussions are ongoing on whether to expand in that location, since it is centrally located, or build a new center, she added.

"By focusing on this (language and cultural training) program, and raising revenue through our events, this helps us," to assist more people in the community, she said.

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