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Highlighting Organizations That are Serving our Greater Rochester Community: Grupo Cultural Latinos En Rochester

Q&A with Evelyn D’Agostino, Founder, Grupo Cultural Latinos En Rochester (GCLER)

December 2022

Look no further than the Grupo Cultural Latinos En Rochester/Cultural Latinos Group in Rochester to learn more about Latin American traditions. With the holiday season upon us, members and participants of Grupo Cultural Latinos En Rochester are excited to share a glimpse of what they have to offer to everyone in the Greater Rochester region and the surrounding suburbs.

What is Grupo Cultural Latinos En Rochester?

Translated into Cultural Latinos Group in Rochester, this cultural organization was established to fill a gap in offering Latin American traditions. The arts help us understand what we are as human beings and influence how we relate to each other. It's also an expression of creativity that can be used for self-reflection or social influence.

Can you share some of your thoughts as you and your members prepared for its launch?

Throughout my life, I have benefited from learning arts and saw an opportunity to give back. We launched GCLER as a nonprofit in 2013 with the goal of delivering an opportunity to teach the arts. The same year, recreation centers opened their doors to GLCER to teach the educational series “About Latin America,” allowing the organization to further its mission and expand its reach, serving as a beacon for children, teachers, and artists in the community.

How do you implement your programs?

Our focus is to engage marginalized communities in Rochester and migrant workers in surrounding rural areas through showcases, dance and music classes, and health and percussion workshops in hopes of encouraging pride in the roots of Western New York immigrant and minority communities. GCLR provides a year-round display of Latin American culture.

Many people from our community come together as a family to prepare and display their work. This enables people of all ages, especially children and youth, to learn Latin dances, ultimately ensuring the preservation of cultural customs and practices. It also helps improve coordination and body control and, as a physical activity, helps people lead healthier lifestyles.

Do participants share the impact of Grupo Cultural Latinos En Rochester?

We receive excellent feedback from the participants themselves, their families, the instructors, and the volunteers. Many of the small children talk about an increase in confidence and feeling more confident to perform in front of others.

Our group has written letters of endorsement on behalf of two students who have partnered with us for many years and were seeking scholarship funds. Many of our fellow students and team have the same spirit and values, which drives culture diversity, education, and community service.

How has Grupo Cultural Latinos En Rochester evolved over the years?

Our initial work began in 2011 with only seven families. Two years later, we organized our group, developed a business plan, and sought nonprofit status. During the pandemic, we were able to provide three programs virtually and continue our work in the community. In 2021, we partnered with ESL for our Carnaval project, a 12-month bilingual educational and cultural program that focuses on the culture, art, and history behind the carnival celebrations that take place around the world. These celebrations have helped transform communities and enrich the lives of communities by bridging differences and celebrating creativity. In addition to this, we have also been able to hire five full time artists for two years.

What has it been like working with ESL?

The ESL grant has made it possible to offer many programs at no cost, opening the doors to many who may not have had an opportunity to participate in our programs.

ESL has allowed us to meet our budget’s operating expenses, the purchase of costumes, and maintaining year-round educational programs. The collaboration with ESL has helped create six programs that welcome all ages, both dancers and for other expressions of art.

The ESL grant allowed for stage performances, which boost the confidence of participants, especially our younger participants who take this newfound confidence back to school, helping them to develop social skills and academics. All participants work together, with multiple generations, improving the skill of teamwork and collective thinking, ultimately increasing participants’ abilities to engage.

What else do you think is important for people to know about Grupo Cultural Latinos En Rochester?

Our programs are offered to everyone, and we don’t do auditions. Our participants learn to work together and develop personal standards of excellence, pride in achievement, and a curiosity about the Latin American world. The skills learned here go beyond art, but all those involved learn business planning, hospitality, financial accountability, and other business-like skills which help in all aspects of life.

How can people get involved in supporting your mission and work?

We invite any family to contribute to the community by participating, volunteering, and joining us! Volunteers help GCLER maintain its programs and they are needed all year round. There are many opportunities to help. Anyone interested in Latin American culture is welcome to support our mission and can email us for more information at