Language Access for All

PUENTES COMMUNITY TRANSLATORS is a community development initiative in NYC that trains young adults in professional translation skills to help bridge language barriers in their communities. 

Our Programs

Community Translators Team

To respond to the COVID-19 crisis and current community issues such as the June racial justice protests, we are assembling a volunteer force of community translators who will translate for immediate community needs free of charge. 

Community Translation Training and Internship Program

Puentes launched its first cohort of the Community Translation Training and Internship Program for young adults ages 15-25 on April 26th, 2021. We focused on Spanish and Chinese translation, but students are not restricted to those and can apply with a different language.  Training cohorts will run twice a year for 3 months at a time, providing skills training and translation project opportunities with local nonprofits.

COVID-19 Update

Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic we have shifted the program away from our initial in-person professional training model. Instead, our 2021-2022 Training Program and Internship in Community Translation will take place online until restrictions are lifted. We are also continuing to assemble a volunteer corps of translators to assist with immediate community needs.

About Puentes

Puentes Community Translators is a community development project in Queens, NYC connecting bilingual young adults from immigrant communities with professional opportunities in translation. Puentes was launched upon winning the inaugural IIE Centennial Fellowship Award for Fulbright Alumni and a second grant for Critical Language Scholarship Alumni. 

Puentes Community Translators will create economic opportunity and reduce language barriers by training young bilingual adults from low-income immigrant communities to become local professional translators. Young adults will build specialized professional skills over the course of 3 months, concluding with certification and paid projects with local organizations. Puentes participants can use the language skills they already have to launch a career that pays double the wages of unskilled positions and builds a pathway to other white-collar jobs. Translation work is flexible and expands economic capital and social access for the whole community.

We will also provide low-cost, community-integrated translation services.

Puentes will also function as a low-cost community translation agency, thus directly increasing the supply of translators connected to the communities that need them most. Translation is among the fastest growing jobs with 18% projected growth over the next decade, yet there is a shortage of translators in immigrant dense areas like NYC. Professional translation services are cost prohibitive for the community. Translation apps have existed for years but many vulnerable immigrants don't feel comfortable using these, preferring a human connection. Immigrants need access to culturally sensitive partners whom they trust, and trust is often insular to fellow community members.

How does the Queens immigrant community benefit from Puentes?

Our program provides four key benefits to our community: First, we directly increase the earning potential of our trainees. The median pay for translators is approx. $50K, double the minimum wages earned at positions most commonly held by low-income immigrants. The economic effect will cascade into the community and open doors for other careers. Secondly, we increase the supply of translators integrated into the community, reducing the shortage of translators who serve non-English speaking immigrants that vulnerable immigrants are comfortable utilizing (trusted local partners over a non-communist org). Thirdly, our translators will serve as knowledge connectors and become a resource for spreading information on common situations. Finally, our program can have a positive impact on educational achievement. Translation requires precision, encouraging a commitment to academic excellence. Altogether, our community reduces the language barrier through the skills some members already possess.

Reach out at!


Krizia R. Lopez, Founder. Krizia graduated cum laude with a B.A. from Columbia University and studied abroad in China as a 2010 US Critical Language Scholar. As a student, she worked at Columbia’s Language and Development Lab and also founded the Columbia Foreign Language Initiative student organization. Krizia was a 2013-2014 Fulbright U.S. Student in Nicaragua where she researched how expanding access to sign language is impacting the daily lives and human rights of deaf Nicaraguans. In response to her findings, she founded and ran a chess-based academic enrichment program in Managua to address some of the education gaps. 

Krizia has worked for Google for the past five years, most recently as Regional Sales Training lead for the Americas and Europe, before helping launch a new school in a low-income neighborhood of Queens, NY as Founding Director of Operations at Valence College Prep. Krizia is originally from Peru and grew up moving around the world before becoming a proud US citizen. She is the recipient of the inaugural 2019 IIE Centennial Fellowship and a finalist in the 2019 Echoing Green + Barclays NYC Future of Work Social Innovation Challenge.

Krizia is a current Master in Public Administration student at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where she focuses on economic development, serves as the MPA Class Representative, and is the Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Kennedy School Review.

Contact Us: