| Program: || Multicultural Center of Northwest Arkansas, Springdale, AR |
| Contact(s): || Rey Hernandez, Operations Manager: (501) 927-1111 |
| Purpose: || To encourage multicultural cooperation, serve as a cultural information resource, improve the quality of life and expand the economic opportunities in northwest Arkansas |
The Multicultural Center (Center) was created in 1995 by community leaders in government, business, and social services to address the needs of the growing immigrant population and to address the issues raised by the growing ethnic communities in northwest Arkansas. Community leaders aided the growing immigrant population by creating a two-county, multi-city educational program focused upon the growing ethnic groups, primarily the Hispanic population. As a result of growing job opportunities, the Hispanic population more than tripled between 1990 and 1995 to more than 12,000 people. The Center represents the collaborative effort of two community action agencies: the Washington County Economic Opportunity Agency and the Benton County Office of Human Concern. The Center serves as a resource for newcomers as well as long-term residents.
The Center's goals are to stabilize the workforce, solve social problems, develop financial and civic responsibility, develop cultural understanding, and promote home ownership. To do this, it offers several programs to the community, one of which provides accurate information about the community and its resources in a variety of languages. The Center provides citizenship and English courses, and maintains a list of volunteer interpreters as a resource. The Center also operates a summer youth diversity program and sponsors an annual multicultural event to promote the value of diversity. In addition, the Center encourages multicultural cooperation in the community by offering diversity training to schools and community groups. In general, the Center serves as a communication bridge between local businesses, governments and the community.
Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments
The Center has served as a model for other nonprofit groups in the area, such as the local Catholic Immigration Services Office and as a resource. Area nonprofits, as well as human service agencies and health departments, have used the interpretive services of the Center more than 30 times over the last year to help serve their clients. Local schools and community groups have used the Center's cultural and diversity training 19 times over the last year, serving approximately 15,000 students. Moreover, the Center's citizenship and English classes have served the needs of 90 people since 1996 and the International Folk Festival attracts more than 6,000 people annually.