BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The new Cultural and Linguistic Workforce Development Center aims to break the cycle of poverty in Latino communities.

It's an extension of the Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley, and a partnership with Northampton Community College, the literacy center, and St. Luke's.

Executive Director of the Hispanic Center, Victoria Montero, says it will take a holistic approach: "We're going to be connecting in the different classes and resources but at the same time we're also going to be have staff members working at each location."

The two locations will be NCC's South Bethlehem campus and St. Luke's Sacred Heart Hospital.

The program expands GED and ESL classes.

"From an equity perspective, we want to give the Latino community an opportunity to grow professionally and climb up the ladder," Montero said. “We have a lot of Latinos that are relocating from other countries here in the Lehigh Valley, and often times they’re professionals in their countries but they end up cleaning, you know, in the entry-level roles.”

It will also focus on skills-based credentials, career training, and transportation.

"The wonderful news is most of these programs are short-term, 12 to 20 weeks. So people can get educated quickly," said Lauren Loeffler, Vice President of Workforce Development & Community Education at NCC.

"We need to focus state government on those initiatives that make sure people are ready and trained for these positions," said Republican State Sen. Pat Browne. He secured $450,000 in state funding to launch the center.

"It's a community that's been investing, buying homes, attending our schools. It's the largest growing community we have. That, we're proud of," Browne said.

The center will start with a focus in health care, and expand out in the coming years.

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