"This (program) can give all of that," she said.
With the exception of the funding needed to start a business, the program will be comprised of a series of classes and workshops. The emphasis will be on instructing qualifying low-income participants to learn English.
However, within those English classes will be business education components that teach not only vital entrepreneurial skills but how to go about finding micro-loans.
Furthermore, Fuentes-Ferreiro said the program is in the process of building partnerships with local agencies that can provide the grants or loans needed to start a business.
Because those partnerships are still being forged, she declined to identify any specific agencies.
"That's what's important, too, about this project — making partnerships and becoming a force in the community," Fuentes-Ferreiro said.
There is one additional component to the Calexico Empowerment Program, she added.
Through HUD, there is the necessary funding to reach at-risk youth in Calexico by teaching entrepreneurial skills.
The hope is, Fuentes-Ferreiro said, that those low-income residents participating in the program may have teen-agers at home who could also participate, turning any potential business venture into a family affair.
She said of the program: "What happens is many times we train people for jobs and unfortunately there are no jobs out there. A lot of people have skills or know of someone who has skills. Why not use those skills?" in establishing a small business.
The Calexico Housing Authority has been assisting SDSU-IV in informing residents in its housing projects about the program. Additionally, Fuentes-Ferreiro said her staff has been distributing flyers to inform Calexico residents.
She added those interested in participating in the program can call program coordinator Javier Gonzalez at 768-5550.
The HUD grant, received by SDSU-IV in November, will enable the program to be free to participants.
HUD officials will be in Calexico at 2:30 today at the SDSU-IV library to meet with SDSU-IV Dean Khosrow Fatemi about the program.
Staff Writer Richard Montenegro can be reached at 337-3453.