Juan Salgado is a community leader helping immigrants overcome barriers to success in the workplace and build the human capital of their communities. Through the Instituto del Progreso Latino, which he has led since 2001, Salgado works with members of the low-income, Latino immigrant communities on Chicago’s southwest side. Most adults in these communities work in menial jobs and face formidable barriers to upward mobility; few have high school diplomas, and many lack the English-language skills needed for a GED or vocational training program.
Salgado has pioneered an education program that adapts the principles of contextualized learning to equip these workers with the skills that lead to higher-paying employment in manufacturing and health care, sectors with a growing demand for a diverse, multilingual workforce. Participants achieve three goals concurrently: complete an adult basic education, improve language abilities, and acquire job skills. Instituto’s Carreras en Salud program prepares adults for college-level registered nurse programs, meeting a need for bilingual health care; its Manufacturing Technology Bridge program gives workers the high-level skills needed on the modern factory floor. Instituto also provides counseling to identify and overcome other obstacles to employment, such as transportation, child care, and elder care. Salgado has raised funds from private and public sources to expand Instituto’s programs, and he has built strong partnerships with community colleges and business owners to open up further opportunities for participants to gain training and employment.
Salgado continues to broaden Instituto’s reach. In 2010, he opened a charter school, Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy, which offers counseling and support to students beyond graduation through the first two years of postsecondary education or training. Through Salgado’s creative leadership, Instituto is widely recognized as an example of success, and it provides technical assistance to groups replicating its techniques in California, Indiana, Minnesota, and Texas. Salgado has built an effective ladder to opportunity in the Instituto del Progreso Latino, empowering individuals, lifting families out of poverty, and creating a model program with national reach.
Juan Salgado received an A.A. (1989) from Moraine Valley Community College, a B.A. (1991) from Illinois Wesleyan University, and an M.U.P. (1993) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He was programs director of The Resurrection Project, a community development organization in Chicago, prior to becoming CEO of the Instituto del Progreso Latino in 2001.