Reinaldo and Rey met the Executive Director of FACES of America, Juanita B. Estrada, at a Summer Banquet hosted by the inmate led Latino Club in August of 2012. The banquet was held within the walls of the Oregon State Penitentiary and included Aztec dancers, mariachis, and carne asada.
Juanita and the team at FACES are fully committed to the education and empowerment of the Latino community; and as someone who worked in education for 33 years, Juanita is an expert in what she does. She ran a pilot, summer training for parents of students who were about to enter kindergarten in an effort to tackle the under-achievement in migrant and Latino school children. Simultaneously, FACES offered a four-week reading and math recovery summer school program, for 1st – 5th grade students. These two programs were so successful that they have now been used as models, and have received support from Reading for All and the Oregon Community Foundation.
Mrs. Estrada currently organizes and implements courses at OSP that are sponsored by the Mexican Consulate and allow inmates to finish the equivalent of their high school diploma. The program has achieved wide success, and the men inside OSP, graduate at a higher rate than those taking the class in the wider community.
FACES of America, has been instrumental in supporting the mission and goals of Prisoner’s Poetry and acts, as our sponsor when applying for grants. They hosted a statewide Spanish poetry contest, and allowed our students at OSP to enter. Prisoner’s Poetry students came away with three prizes, including the Grand Prize in Poetry. All three of our students who entered the contest came away with at least an Honorable Mention. Not to mention all three of our participants had never written or studied poetry before our class. The Prisoner’s Poetry Team looks forward to a continued and fruitful relationship with FACES of America where both of our goals of education, equity, and empowerment can broaden in scope and influence.