Thursday, December 9, 2010

Unlimited Potential

6520 S Central, Phoenix, AZ 85040
Jeanne Devine
Lorraine Moya Salas - Executive Director
Sandra Amarillas - Adult Education Teacher-First Year, Activities Coordinator
Tania Andrino - Adult Education Teacher-Second Year
Irene Colmenero - Infants' Classroom Teacher
Graciela Medrano - Toddlers' Classroom Teacher
Maria Rivera - Preschool Teacher 

The Unilited potential neighborhood education and empowerment center offers both ASU students and other phoenix area residents many ways to become involved with the organization. Their website states the organization is always in need of volunteers to do anything from participate on the board of directors, or help with the young children who attend the center programs, to help with administrative challenges and community public relations. The website also lists different donation programs the center has created partnerships with. One example is the credit card registration program they are a part of which donates a percentage of purchases made in certain stores to the Unlimited Potential organization. Other forms of donation include their ink cartridge recycling program and their tax credit refund program.

            In their efforts to specifically educate the women and children who make up a part of this predominantly Hispanic immigrant community, they are advocating for the social and educational progress of a community that has been socially ostracized and helping them acquire the tools the community needs in order to assure the recognition and development of the members of this community. They not only understand that through the empowerment of women the entire family unit benefits, but also that the education of a minority populations are much more successful when they are a community effort involving people who are a part of the community. In her study of Spanish speaking immigrant women in the Bronx, Lucia Buttaro found that one of the key factors in the success of language acquisition for these women was community involvement “Programs must acknowledge the existing cultural-linguistic capital possessed by adult Hispanic women while at the same time assisting families in acquiring new cultural, linguistic, and educational knowledge; more emphasis should be placed on pursuing community-based literacy programs serving immigrant families that are dedicated to their children and their personal educational growth.” (36). The Unlimited Potential organization hopes to empower these women in just this way. They run a variety of different adult education programs that help these women not only gain English speaking and reading abilities, but they also help them prepare to join other ESL, GED and community college classes so that they can continue their education. Unlimited Potenitial also runs and early childhood development program that helps kids between the ages of 6 months and 5 years of age gain early education skills that help them succeed in school. Through these different forms of community education programs they hope to empower the members of the community in hopes of helping the members of this community become more active in the decisions taken in their community and build stronger bonds among those living in this neighborhood.
In serving a socially and economically marginalized community, Unlimited Potential’s educational and community activism addresses social issues surrounding the intersectionality of race, class, language and gender. In their efforts to offer these women the educational resources they need in order to be successful in the United States, they hope to close the gap between language acquisition and employment opportunities. In her article “Access to Work: The Effects of Spatial and Social Accessibility on Unemployment for Native-Born Black and Immigrant Women in Los Angeles” Virginia Parks addresses the importance of taking into account the way in which social activist groups must address the intersectionality of these social constructs in order to help immigrant women attain higher-paying jobs in the United States, “If residential enclaves provide resources in the form of social capital, specifically to ethnic employment networks than immigrant women who live in immigrant-enclave neighborhoods may be more likely to be employed, given their easy access to information of jobs” (161). Though Unlimited potential is not mainly an employment resource center, they do provide the participants with necessary information about job openings in the community, and through their education programs provide the women with the tools necessary to find higher paying jobs. It is important to bring community organizations like Unlimited Potential to light because the Hispanic community in Arizona and organizations such as this one address many of the social issues that affect this community. 


Buttaro. Lucia "Second-Language Acquisition, Culture Shock, and Language Stress of Adult Latina Women in New York" Journal of Hispanic Higher Education (2004) Nov. 14. 2010 1-30

Parks. Virginia "Access to Work: The Effects of Spatial and Social Accessibility on Unemployment for Native-Born Black and Immigrant Women in Los Angeles"Economic Geography (2008) Nov. 9 2010 p.141-172

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