MacArthur Fellows Program

Juan Salgado

Community Leader | Class of 2015

Creating a model for workforce development and training among immigrant communities through a holistic approach that addresses language skills, education, and other barriers to entering the workforce.

Community Leader
Instituto del Progreso Latino
Chicago, Illinois
46 at time of award
Published September 28, 2015

About Juan's Work

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.

Select News Coverage of Juan Salgado
June 18, 2020
Juan Salgado Joins MacArthur Board
Juan Salgado, Chancellor of City Colleges of Chicago, has been elected to serve on the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur's Board of Directors.
September 19, 2017
"When Community College Is Free"
The New York Times
Juan Salgado, 2015 MacArthur Fellow
June 22, 2016
Our Cities: Natalie Moore & Juan Salgado on Chicago Neighborhoods, Segregation, & Gentrification
As part of the Chicago Humanities Festival, community leader and MacArthur Fellow Juan Salgado and Natalie Moore discuss economy, inequality, race, violence, and sustainability as it pertains to cities.
May 15, 2016
MacArthur Fellows at the 2016 Chicago Humanities Festival
At the Chicago Humanities Festival, four MacArthur Fellows talked about cities, storytelling, and eviction. Rewatch the conversations below, with moderators Alison Cuddy, Natalie Y. Moore, and Alex Kotlowitz.   Community Leader Juan Salgado   Photographer Camilo José Vergara ...
December 21, 2015
"Juan Salgado the Educator"
Chicago Reader
Juan Salgado, 2015 MacArthur Fellow
October 26, 2015
"Civic Engagement, Participation, and the 2016 Election Featuring Juan Salgado"
Moraine Valley Community College
Juan Salgado, 2015 MacArthur Fellow
View all news

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Please credit: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

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