Flint, MI—A year and a half ago, Ana Beatriz Aguila immigrated from Cuba to Flint, Mich. in search of a better future.

She said the services she has received in the city, including interpretation for medical appointments, have gone a long way with helping her family adjust to their new life.

During a press conference at the Flint Public Library on Tuesday, March 21, 2023, Aguila was joined by her 7-month old son, husband and Veronica Vera, an interpreter from the Latinx Technology and Community Center.

Through Vera, Aguila told Flint Beat that she is grateful for the services provided by the center, whether those be interpretation or English classes — services that will see an expansion thanks to new federal funds announced at the conference. 

“She says she’s very happy for this program,” Vera said. “She’s talking about Latinx, because they’ve been helping her a lot with her appointments. She was pregnant here, and she got her firstborn son here, and they’ve been helping her with pharmacy, medical, anything she needs. They’re always there for her.” 

On Tuesday, officials announced that the interpretation and translation services offered by the Latinx Technology and Community Center, alongside its adult English courses and tutoring services for children, are receiving $575,000 in federal support.  

Ana Beatriz Aguila, her son Jonathan Apolonio and husband Gustavo Apolonio pose for a portrait at the Flint Public Library on March 21, 2023 in Flint. Mich. after a press conference on federal funding for literacy and language programs. (Nicholas Chan | Flint Beat)

The funds were secured by Congressman Dan Kildee as part of a larger effort to expand the language and literacy services of Flint-based organizations. In all, those funds amount to over $2 million from federal Community Project Funding for 2023, with Mott Community College serving as the fiduciary. 

Asa Zuccaro, executive director of the Latinx Technology and Community Center, said his organization is looking to broaden its programs’ reach given the new funding.

“We are excited to expand our services throughout the Great Lakes Bay region to make sure we’re offering language and literacy service throughout the congressional district,” Zuccaro said. 

Just as the Latinx Technology and Community Center is planning for growth, the Flint & Genesee Literacy Network will also be expanding its programming with the remaining $1.5 million in funding.

Since 2016, its program, Flint Kids Read, has been distributing reading materials to Flint children aged 0 to 5. But, according to Angela Hood, executive director of the Flint & Genesee Literacy Network, the federal funding will help grow the program to serve kids in Genesee County at-large. 

Hood said that providing children in Genesee County easy access to books helps “bridge that gap between school and home and community.” She said the Flint Kids Read program will be renamed to Genesee Kids Read, with enrollment expected to begin in fall 2023.

Literacy opportunities in early childhood, she added, are critical to building children’s readiness for school.

“The path to a literate and thriving community begins with removing barriers for children having access to resources to engage in learning early and often,” Hood said during the press conference.

Nicholas is Flint Beat’s public health and education reporter. He joins the team as he graduates from Santa Clara University, Calif. Nicholas has previously reported on dementia and brain health, as...