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CHICAGO — Young Latinos from immigrant families are facing a grim reality in 2019.  For the children of undocumented parents, there’s the debilitating fear of deportation, and soaring dropout rates among high school and college students point to a crisis.

A faith-based effort organized by young Catholics, however, could be a turning point.

Founded by Vicente Del Real, Iskali is a Catholic-based support organization serving 18- to 30-year-old Latinos. “Iskali” is an Aztec word for new beginnings and growth.

“We are responding to a huge need in our community,” Del Real said. “And we can no longer wait for people to do it for us. We need to do it ourselves.”

Thirteen parishes across Chicagoland, including Dominican University and Morton College, have adopted their own spiritually-based Iskali chapters.

With faith-awakening retreats,  infused with prayer and acceptance, Iskali works to support young Hispanics struggling to stay in school, or in many cases, going back to school after starting a family.

Raising a new generation of leaders is part of the Isakli mission. Del Real and mentors like Chicago-born Martin Cabrera, among others, organize luncheons and fundraisers to strengthen young hearts.

“What I try to tell them is, those tough times in life and they are turning to their faith for some of that foundation, that’s going to make them a much stronger person and a much better person,” Cabrera said.

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