SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Tucked away in a building on East Calhoun Street lies ALAS. 

Those letters stand for the Alliance for Leadership, Advancement, and Success. 

Its purpose? 

Helping Latino and Hispanic students with higher education through various programs.  

“We believe education is the way to success,” co-founder Jordana Vera said. “We are that missing piece in the puzzle where we come in and the students, they speak, they speak English, they know the language, but they don’t have the knowledge about higher education.” 

The programs ALAS offers range from education, disability support, financial aid help and translation.  

“It’s kind of difficult sometimes to navigate the world, especially for LatinX students, so we help them,” Vera said. “We are that bridge between what they are going through right now and the future, which means financial aid admissions, all those things.” 

Vera says the idea came from her and the other founder’s college experience.  

“We were like, ‘whenever we’re done with college, we need to do something for others’, and we don’t want anybody else to go through the same things,” Vera said. “It was very important to us. We didn’t want to do it for us, we wanted ALAS to grow.” 

That growth includes gaining volunteers, like Gerson Adame.

“I’m just showing people that there is help out there for the community, especially actually seeing Jordan tell these students applying for FASFA, parents coming, asking for help,” Adame said. “I didn’t have that in high school and now I’m 25.” 

Vera says supporting an underserved community is vital to the success of future generations.  

“It was very important to us because we need to be seen. We need to be heard and we need to be present on the table where the decisions are made,” Vera said. “The only way to do it is having an education.”