Juan Salgado is president and CEO of the Instituto del Progreso Latino in Chicago, and is among the 24 winners of this year’s MacArthur Foundation “genius grants” who will each receive $625,000 over five years, no strings attached. Salgado’s organization has become a national model for helping immigrants learn English and improve their work skills.
“What we do in Instituto is we believe that any learner can become basically a college student – that if you’re at a fourth grade, sixth grade reading level and you’re an immigrant mom, you can become a registered nurse, a master’s degree nurse,” Juan told Here & Now’s Robin Young. “The reality is that we’ve taken over 500 previous low-wage income earners and just changed their lives. They’re now making $24, $27, $36 an hour where they used to make nothing or minimum wage.”