This year, a record number of companies from around the world applied to the MassChallenge, an accelerator program with the mission to help high-impact, early-stage ventures to succeed. Approximately 300 of the 1200+ applicants advanced to the next round and pitched in front of a panel of judges. Among the 300 is Found in Translation, a local nonprofit which trains low-income bilingual women to be professional medical interpreters.
Found in Translation was founded in September 2011 with seed funding from the Kip Tiernan Social Justice Fellowship through Rosie's Place.
Having been in existence for only eight months, Found in Translation has already gained notable recognition: winning the Women of Peace Award; ranking in the top 25 educational initiatives in Women Deliver 50, which showcases the world's most inspiring ideas and solutions for women and girls; and making it to the semifinal of the Echoing Green Fellowship, which funds the world’s most promising social ventures.
Found in Translation has been featured in the Boston Herald, Huffington Post, and on the radio show Minority Counterpoint on JAM’N 94.5.
What’s all the buzz about? By training low-income bilingual women to be medical interpreters, the emerging nonprofit creates a win-win opportunity at the intersection of several social problems.
“Poverty affects minorities disproportionately,” says founder Maria Vertkin. “As a result, much of our society’s bilingual talent is trapped in low income communities.”
And although the demand for medical interpreters is soaring, many talented multilingual individuals are unable to break into this promising profession due to economic barriers. Found in Translation’s 12-week Medical Interpreter Certificate course is offered at no cost and includes on-site childcare, among other supports.
“By creating a job training program that levels the playing field for low-income women, we enable upward social mobility and unleash bilingual talent into the workforce,” Vertkin said.
The future looks bright for Found in Translation’s first class of graduates. The women, who graduated last month with a Certificate in Medical Interpreting, are entering a career with a median annual wage of $43,380 and 42.2% job opportunity growth expected by 2020 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Better pay reduces their reliance on public assistance and increases their taxable wages,” says Vertkin, pointing out the resulting economic benefit to the community.
In addition, graduates' work as interpreters prevents medical errors and increases efficiency, thus cutting health care costs and saving taxpayer dollars. Vertkin predicts that Found in Translation’s training will have a combined economic impact of over $10 million over the next decade.
Found in Translation's executive team pitched in front of a panel of MassChallenge judges (like on that TV show Shark Tank) on May 15. The top 125 competitors, who will be invited to participate in the 3-month accelerator and compete for their share of $1.1, will be announced on May 29.
For more information on Found in Translation, visit www.found-in-translation.org
For more information on the MassChallenge, visit www.masschallenge.org