AURORA, Colo (CBS4) - One of the biggest complaints about politics today is that many of the same people have been running things for decades. A national, nonpartisan organization is aiming to change that by offering training to people with immigrant backgrounds.
After years of watching from the sidelines, a group of about two dozen political hopefuls are now more prepared than ever to take the next critical step. For many, their goal is to one day represent their communities, however that may look.
"Maybe it's working on a campaign, maybe it's working in someone's office," said Jessica Delos Reyes of Colorado Springs. "I think there's a lot of people like me who never thought of themselves as being the person to speak up for the community."
This weekend in Aurora, Delos Reyes was among the group getting a crash course in political campaigns. From learning about stump speeches and endorsements to fundraising, it was a major change from what she's used to working for a nonprofit.
"It has been jarring in the best possible way," she said.
The training is all thanks to New American Leaders, a nonpartisan group dedicated to empowering people with immigrant backgrounds.
Colorado state Senator Julie Gonzales is one of more than 150 program alumni who have gone on to run and be elected across the nation since 2011, the group estimates.
"New American Leaders gave me the roadmap that I needed when the opportunity came for me to declare my candidacy for the state Senate in August of 2017," Gonzales said. "The more people that we see who look like us, who are willing and serving community already, to step up and take new positions, that's what this is all about."
For Delos Reyes, the path ahead remains to be seen, but the possibilities in her eyes are endless. Her goal to represent and lead is now closer than ever before.
"We have experience in things our counterparts will not have, from our life experiences, the countries we come from," she said. "We can really just impact the area we live in now."
This weekend's event in Aurora was the last of a series of training across the nation this year. The organization plans to host more in the future.
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