The Hearth has been awarded a three-year, $150,000 grant from the Oregon Community Foundation to support storytelling within the Latinx community of Jackson County, Oregon. Funded through OCF’s Latino Partnership Program, the grant hopes to strengthen diverse relationships within Jackson County as well as train local Latinx leaders in the art of community storytelling.

The project was conceived by Roberto Franco, director of the Latino Partnership Program at OCF, while attending The Hearth’s Certificate in Community Storytelling training. The project will be directed by Erica Ledesma.

Born and raised in Southern Oregon, Erica Ledesma is a Xicana with ancestral roots in Mexico. Erica’s work draws on art and culture to build community. In 2018, Erica along with Raul Tovar Jr., and Cesar Flores were inspired by The Hearth gatherings in Ashland, Oregon. In October 2018, Erica and her colleagues co-founded Noche De Cuentos to create a platform for the Spanish speaking community to craft and share stories. The program was immediately popular drawing over 200 people from the local Hispanic community.

As director of the Latinx Story Project Erica will continue to develop Noche de Cuentos as well a new program called De La Rais (“At the Root”) which will focus on gathering oral and written stories. She will also mentor other young Latinx community leaders in the art of community storytelling.

“We are very honored and humbled to be working with Erica Ledesma in this exciting and much needed venture,” states The Hearth found Mark Yaconelli. “We have a lot to learn from her and hope to work together to strengthen relationships with the Latinx communities.”

Erica has formed a local advisory board made up of Latinx community members. According to Ledesma, “De la Raíz will focus on the power of storytelling as a means of community building, remembering, and spiritual healing.”