The story behind the Voces de Nashville cooperative is one of resilience and strength for immigrant Latinas. It is an initiative that wants to empower Latina women by enabling them to become teachers and earn year-round income.
According to The Tennessean, the trainers are on their way to disproving the notion that, in order to be successful in the United States, it is imperative to speak English.
Yuri Cunza, president of the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said that while businesses of all industries and sizes have turned to the chamber for workers, some Latinos face different barriers than other workforce members. Some are less likely to leave a job if they have it secured for reasons such as legal status or language.
“We wanted to get rid of the barriers to be able to give the women the training so that they could teach classes here, to the community, without having to go through all of those requirements,” Voces’s Teacher Development President Anne Moctezuma told the media outlet.
Better yet, once the native Spanish-speaking trainees graduate from the program, they become owners of the cooperative.
It is a women-led movement to empower other women through the democratization of education and opportunity while growing along with the population.
As Voces de Nashville explains on its website, Davidson County’s Latino community is projected to represent 34 percent of the population by 2040. While in their school district, students and their families speak more than 120 languages— Spanish being the predominant language — there is a gap in diversity empowerment.
“As we researched the community, we realized that Nashville’s English-only citizens want to connect with their neighbors and share their native languages,” the co-op explains. “They demand bilingual language in our jobs, schools, and health care system. Yet the number of Spanish-language programs has declined over the past decade.”
For Voces, the solution was obvious: with an increased demand for Spanish instruction and an increase in Spanish-speaking women with employment needs, a co-op was the answer.
The cooperative model allows workers to have a democratic workspace where members benefit equally. This way, Voces de Nashville exists to unite a multicultural community through language instruction.