Category Archives: Newsletter

Violet’s Transition

Violet, an African American woman and former service person who served in the US Army, initially came to El Centro de la Raza through a referral from 211-Crisis connections in June 2016. Like more than 50% of the service persons assisted by the Veteran Pathfinder program, Violet was experiencing homelessness during her initial intake interview. Violet also suffers from epilepsy and is physically disabled.

After her initial enrollment into the Veterans program, Violet received supportive services and was able to move from unsheltered homelessness to a shelter bed. Through our efforts at El Centro de la Raza, Violet was able to move into an apartment in Renton and was provided with a care aide to assist her with travel to and from scheduled appointments.

Violet returned to El Centro de la Raza in March of 2019 as a participant in our Food Bank program. Violet re-connected with the Veterans Pathfinder staff and now is able to access additional resources such as bus tickets, and veteran meet-up social engagements that enable her to stay connected to other veterans in the area.

Rosa’s Story: A Journey is Nonlinear

Rosa came to El Centro de la Raza looking for an opportunity to open her food business when she learned of the Business Opportunity Center (BOC). After learning more about the BOC, Rosa realized the exciting possibility of becoming her own boss. However, she first needed to improve her credit score in order to apply for a loan.

The BOC Coordinator referred Rosa to our Financial Empowerment program to begin financial counseling. Rosa went through the program and learned, in her native language, the importance of reviewing expending habits and how to pull her credit report. She left with a plan to pay down her debt aggressively and was referred to Mercy Corp’s Northwest IDA Grant Program to apply for a loan. After undergoing the extensive application process, Rosa received word that she was eligible to take out a $5,000 loan. She used that money towards obtaining a food cart.

She is grateful for programs at El Centro de la Raza, such as Financial Empowerment. She said, “Having these services helps our community further understand the importance of budgeting, a credit score, and money management.”

To learn more about the Business Opportunity Center, including getting on the waiting list, please contact Liliana via email at or by phone at 206-957-4636.

There is More Than What Meets the Eye

Chris*, who was 18 months old, lived with his family in a little space that resembled a basement. His family had many needs that affected their quality of life. His parents were able to afford a heater to combat the winter cold. To sit, they had a table with two chairs. There was no other furniture.

When one of El Centro de la Raza’s program coordinators visited Kevin’s home, she noticed that he was sick with the flu and was kept warm by his mother’s warmth. His mother held him in her arms the entire time because the floor was cold. When the program coordinator asked Kevin’s mother, Rosario*, how long they had lived there, she responded, “Nearly three years.” The coordinator believed it was unfair for the family to live in those conditions and asked what the family needed. Rosario stated they needed only diapers and a high chair for Kevin.

The next time the program coordinator visited, she brought what Rosario needed – and more. She brought food from our Food Bank, a larger space heater, some furniture, dishes, clothing, and blankets. With Westside Baby’s help, Kevin now had diapers, clothing, and a high chair. With more resources and fewer needs, Kevin feels more comfortable in his own home. He is more engaged during home visits and has made considerable improvement in his speech. His vocabulary has grown and wants to participate during home visits actively.

* Name has been changed to protect the individual’s identity and privacy.

Recap: Latino Legislative Day 2019

Speaker Chopp with El Centro de la Raza’s youth on Latino Legislative Day – Mar 18, 2019

On March 18, over 1,200 Latinos advocated for their community in Olympia as part of Latino Legislative Day. El Centro de la Raza organized 56 youth and individuals to speak to legislators in person about the community’s needs. We asked for support of our capital projects, including purchasing a building in Federal Way to expand programs and services to South King County, as well as on House Bill 1873 that intends to tax electronic cigarettes, electronic devices, and vape pens in the same way tobacco products are taxed. The experience was inspiring and motivating. A Chief Sealth High School senior expressed the desire to become a Senator one day, standing on the steps of the State Capitol after listening to Senator Rebecca Saldaña encourage students to achieve their dreams.

Recap: Senator Murray Held Press Conference in El Centro de la Raza’s Child Development Center to Champion #ChildCareForAll

Senator Patty Murray came to El Centro de la Raza on March 18 to advocate for working families the access to high quality, affordable child care. She explained the comprehensive bill and how her co-sponsors are making child care a budgetary priority. This bill would cap expenses for eligible families, pay child care providers a respectable wage, and expand child care access to all families. Parents could return to the workforce without exhausting their family’s financial resources. It is also predicted that young children would benefit tremendously from quality care because they spend more time in the classroom developing their brains.

Write a letter in support El Centro de la Raza’s expansion

The Washington State Legislature is now considering which capital requests they should fund. 53% of the Latinx community lives in South King County due to our city’s lack of housing affordability.  El Centro de la Raza requested capital funding to respond to our community’s needs by purchasing an office building located in Federal Way. It is clear why there is a need to expand our programs and services:

  • 12.9% of Latinx students are proficient in math (the state’s average is 31%).
  • 28.4% of Latinx students are ELA proficient (the state’s average is 45.5%).
  • 38% of Latinx ninth graders are failing at least one core class (compared to 18% for white students state-wide).
  • For ELL students, outcomes are even lower with 5% of students meeting targets.

We ask you to join us in urging each of the key decision-makers of the Capital Budget committee to approve our community’s request for funding the necessary purchase of an office building based in Federal Way. Each letter you help send makes a stronger case for why our expansion to South King County is key. Please help us spread the word by asking another friend of El Centro de la Raza to send their letter of support ASAP.

Here is the template and you will find all the key legislators’ contact information below:

Estimad@ Senator / Representative <<their last name here>>,

I am <<your first name here>>, a friend of El Centro de la Raza. I am writing today to ask you for your support in funding one of El Centro de la Raza’s capital budget request to purchase an office building in Federal Way for their program expansion ($1.78 million; legislative district 30).

It is important to stress the need for their culturally appropriate services to be available in South King County. Services will include academic, after-school, and leadership development and support services because of the staggering student demographics and outcome information in the Federal Way School District. Here are some examples:

  • 60% of the children qualify for a free or reduced lunch;
  • Only 12.9% of Latinx students are proficient in math (the state average is 31%); and,
  • Just 28.4% of Latinx students are ELA proficient (the state average is 45.5%).

Compared to white students statewide, 38% of Latinx ninth graders are failing at least one core class. For ELL students, the outcomes are even lower with 5% of students meeting targets. This kind of data is seemingly daunting to address, but El Centro de la Raza is prepared to do the work by purchasing an office building in Federal Way and establishing a presence.

I believe trusted community-based organizations like El Centro de la Raza can help move the needle. Please fund El Centro de la Raza’s capital request to purchase an office building. Thank you for your time and consideration.




<<Your full name here>>
District <<number>>
<<Your full address to verify your legislative district>>
<<Phone number>>

Contact information for Capital Budget committee members:

Teaching Preschool Children about Bias, Diversity, and Social Justice

The teachers at José Martí Child Development Center are explaining what social justice to young children is. While this is a complex subject to navigate for people of all ages, our teachers have prepared diligently to engage in these critical discussions. Some of the strategies they used included talking about differences, deciphering what is fair and not fair, using children’s literature and songs, teaching anti-bias lessons, providing familiar and relatable real-life examples, and encouraging critical thinking to explore solutions. 

Four-year-old Issac responded positively to these activities. He drew a picture of himself holding a sign that said, “Boo Trump, no killing people.” When the teacher asked Issac to share his picture, he said, “I drew this because Trump has soldiers that kill people and he makes bad choices. I know because I hear on the radio and I saw it. I know that.” Our teachers hope these discussions can lead to tolerance and creating a better society. Martha Diaz said, “If I can make a difference in one child, maybe that child can make a difference in our world.” Please support our teachers so that they can continue doing this important work. 

Support Keep Washington Working (KWW)

We must support immigrants’ role in workplaces. The Keep Washington Working Act (KWW) would protect our communities, economy, and resources by getting local governments out of the business of federal immigration enforcement. Click to learn why we need your help to pass the KWW bill this session, and notify your representative that you stand with the immigrants community.

This bill is scheduled for a public hearing on Wednesday, February 27, at 1:30 PM. If you are unavailable to attend in person, you can still email your representatives by first clicking here to find which district you live in. After entering your address, your district number and legislators’ names will then appear. Some of your representatives may sit on the Senate Ways & Means Committee. Contacting them first is the highest priority. Click here to see the list of members for you to contact.

Update: Community Police Commission files federal court brief

In November, community leaders held a press conference at El Centro de la Raza to reject the City’s contract with Seattle Police Officer’s Guild, the City’s largest police union. Community groups still believe the City needs to keep its promise of upholding the accountability system made possible by the 2017 Accountability Ordinance. The contract’s detrimental impact could weaken public trust and the progress the City has made under the Consent Decree.

Last week, the Community Police Commission filed a brief to the Federal Court about the City’s contract with the SPOG. One of the CPC’s goals has been to ensure Seattle has a strong police accountability system that meets community standards. It is the only way to make sure the hard work done under the Consent Decree over the past seven years will be protected after court oversight goes away. The new police contract undermines that effort. Click to read CPC’s blog post.


PRM After School Program and Woodland Zoo Encounter

The Plaza Roberto Maestas After School Program serves 11 to 13-year-old scholars during a critical segment of their education: the middle school years. Our program supports youth academically through one-on-one mentoring and exposes them to a cultural enrichment curriculum affirming the contributions of people of color in American society. We plant the seeds of cultural advocacy and instill a passion for social justice.

We are excited to partner with the Woodland Zoo starting this March. In an effort to create a prosperous Zoology Career Pipeline, this collaboration provides youth the opportunity to ask a zoologist questions in an intimate setting and even receive a special visit from a critter. Also, our two programs will be hosting Up Close Encounters on-site at El Centro de la Raza and visiting the Zoo every other month to learn about the Zoo’s operations.

We are currently enrolling for the spring semester and accepting names for our summer waitlist. To learn more about the eligibility requirements, please contact Liz via email at