ProGente Connections receives UTO grant for new programs with Brazilian immigrant community

In June, ProGente Connections, an ecumenical coalition of Brazilian immigrant and American churches, based at St. Andrew’s Church in Framingham, received a United Thank Offering grant of $26,350 to launch a new program “Orientation to American Culture.” The United Thank Offering (UTO) awards grants to support innovative mission and ministry throughout the Episcopal Church and provinces of the Anglican Communion. The focus of the 2019 UTO grant session was “Go: Crossing boundaries created by race, culture and economics to create communities that listen deeply and learn to live like Jesus.”

ProGente Connections Courtesy Photo Deacon Lori Mills-Curran (third adult from left) and ProGente Connections' board chair, Michel Puchulu (far right), with members of the Metrowest Brazilian immigrant community, during one of ProGente Connection's recent programs.

ProGente Connections will launch “Orientation to American Culture” to bring American volunteers into community with immigrants and provide high-quality educational resources to enhance economic opportunity and cultural exchange.

ProGente Connections will use part of the grant money to have Intercambio’s “The Immigrant Guide,” a guidebook with practical information about living and succeeding in the U.S., professionally translated into Portuguese, the native language of the Brazilian immigrants with which ProGente works.

The grant money will also fund a part-time staff position to coordinate the new “Orientation to American Culture” program, as well as two other new ProGente programs: “Massachusetts Business Basics” and “Becoming a Teacher in Massachusetts.”

According to the grant application, “Massachusetts Business Basics” will cover information concerning best practices in business, to help immigrant-owned businesses avoid unintentionally running afoul of American practice. “Becoming a Teacher in Massachusetts” will provide coaching to assist immigrants in navigating procedures for recognition of non-U.S. college degrees or for U.S. professional licensing.

Deacon Lori Mills-Curran is the executive director of ProGente Connections, which got its start as the Metrowest Mission Hub with funds from the diocesan Together Now campaign. Mills-Curran said in an interview that through this work, she hopes to inspire others to engage with their communities by connecting and working with their local immigrant population.

“It’s another way of engaging with your local community in a new way,” Mills-Curran said. “Our goal is to talk across difference--culturally, theologically and ecumenically--and that is really rare.”

--Bridget K. Wood

Learn more about ProGente Connections here.

Learn more about the United Thank Offering here.