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Esperanza Inc. helping Cleveland's Hispanic community with unique challenges ahead of upcoming school year

Posted at 1:27 PM, Aug 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-08 19:18:53-04

CLEVELAND — As schools start to reopen with hybrid learning options, families across Northeast Ohio will have to make adjustments to make sure students get the support they need. It's tough, especially for many in Cleveland's Hispanic community.

Esperanza Inc. is stepping in to help them with the unique challenges they face.

Saturday, Daisy Berrios, a mother of three, was able to pick up the school supplies her daughters need to start the school year strong.

“The first nine weeks, they're going to be online, but they still need some supplies for that,” Berrios said.

But supplies are just the beginning of her worries this school year.

“There are three daughters and I only have one computer and the school gave me one laptop, so I have two, but they are three. And one day they need to connect at the same time in different classes. So this is hard,” Berrios said.

Berrios is one of the dozens of parents who stopped by Esperanza Inc.’s 10th annual Back to School Celebration to pick up those free school supplies. She’s also one of the thousands helped by the organization which provides educational services, support and advocacy for Cleveland's Hispanic community.

Executive Director Victor Ruiz said they’ve needed that support this year more than ever as COVID-19 forced schools to close and pivot to online and remote learning.

“Our community does have some unique situations. So [for] a lot of our students, there is a technology gap,” Ruiz said.

Ruiz said in addition to the technology gap, there’s also a language barrier for many in the community, both students and parents. So when schools went virtual, his staff did too.

“Very quickly we connected with volunteers who would be willing to serve as tutors, so that the students could connect via ZOOM or Google Meet, and the tutors would help them with their packets,” Ruiz said.

And as families look forward to the first day of school, Ruiz said they’ll continue to be there to lend a helping hand.

“We want to make sure that they have the proper instruction and support throughout home. Their parents may not be able to help them so we're working hard to make sure that they have that support,” Ruiz said.

If you’re interested in any of the services Esperanza Inc. provides, please visit their website for more information.

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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