LIBERAL, Kan. (KSNW) – Southwest Kansas has the densest Hispanic population in the state according to the United States Census Bureau. But with diversity, can come obstacles — ones the Liberal community is looking to change.
The Seward County Development Corporation and the Seward County Community College joined forces to create equal opportunities for their minority population through a mindset-driven class.
The partnership launched the nation’s fifth and Kansas’ first, Ice House Entrepreneurship Program in which both content and instruction are given in Spanish.
“There are so many in the community who have those same desires and those same passions, but they didn’t have the programs available to them in Spanish, and we wanted to make sure we could meet them where they were in their language,” said Eli Svaty, Executive Director of the Seward County Development Corporation.
The program is offered in-state through NetWork Kansas and is funded by a grant through the Kauffman Foundation. It’s an eight-week course teaching students how to develop an innovative mindset to tackle issues in all areas of life.
The course’s focus is to develop critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills, all of which are vital for business and life. The class brings in real-world resources like bankers and loan officers to create an outlet to connect, and an opportunity to take an idea and put it into action.
Encouraging students to start businesses, improve communities, and see opportunities instead of problems. “It gives them some of the tools and some of the tricks that they can use to make sure they take that idea and can put it into action,” Svaty.
The program is overcoming the language barrier and creating a foundation to success for the Seward County community.
It’s reaching a new part of the community. “We want to make sure that our community, our students that are growing up, know that there are opportunities here to start small businesses, to be a better employee, to improve the businesses they work for, and this is an opportunity for us to provide them with education and support to help our region thrive,” said Svaty.
Those involved say, with a community rich in Hispanic culture, it’s important to have a class in that community’s native language. “As a minority, the Hispanics are totally disconnected, and I think this will help them to get very connected and get the benefit of whatever the state or county can offer to them to become a successful person in life,” said Denis Zamora, class facilitator.
The class has been well-received by the community, already maxing out enrollment in the first year it’s been offered. It is also connecting students with resources and programs after the course is finished to make sure they can continue to follow their ambition.
“Whether you want to be successful in your family, whether you want to be successful in starting a new business, or you already have a business and want to improve it, I want to help them through this program, improve and learn how to be a more successful person,” said Zamora.
For more information on the program, go to Seward County Development Corporation.