Strategy to Reverse the Youth E-cigarette Epidemic Nationwide

The tobacco industry’s primary targets are teenagers and young adults because they are the leading age groups to experiment with smoking. Nearly 90% of cigarette smokers first try cigarette smoking by age 18, and 98% first try smoking by age 26. We face a rampant public health crisis because of health care costs, diseases, and deaths caused by tobacco use.

As a strategy to reverse the youth e-cigarette epidemic nationwide, the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) voted for a bipartisan bill that will raise the federal minimum age for purchasing any tobacco product from 18 to 21. This has already happened in Washington State and many other states, but this national compromise is unprecedented.

Tennessee and Washington State are examples of states that can enact a federal bill without having to pass a similar state law. However, some states, like Kentucky and Virginia, are required to pass their own law to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21, in addition to the federal law.

La mayoría de los fumadores comienzan a fumar siendo niños o adultos jóvenes, y estos grupos de edad son el objetivo principal de la industria del tabaco. Aumentando la edad del tabaco a 21 años ayudará a evitar que los jóvenes comiencen a fumar y a reducir las muertes, las enfermedades y los costos de atención médica causados por el consumo de tabaco.

Como estrategia para revertir la epidemia juvenil de los cigarrillos electrónicos en todo el país, el 26 de junio de 2019, el Comité del Senado de los Estados Unidos sobre Salud, Educación, Trabajo y Pensiones – HELP – votó a favor de un proyecto de ley bipartidista para reducir los costos de atención médica que incluía una legislación de compromiso bipartidista que aumentará la edad mínima federal para comprar cualquier producto de tabaco de 18 a 21 años en todo el país.

El compromiso bipartidista legislativo Alexander-Murray del Comité de Salud de los Estados Unidos – presidente del comité Lamar Alexander (R-TN) y miembro designado Patty Murray (D-WA) – no requiere que todos los estados aprueben sus propias leyes, a diferencia del proyecto de ley bipartidista McConnell-Kaine – líder de la mayoría del Senado Mitch McConnell (R-KY) y el senador Tim Kaine (D-VA) – que incluye una disposición que requeriría que cada estado apruebe su propia ley de aumentar la edad de consumo de tabaco a los 21 años (además de la ley federal).

All Three José Martí Child Development Center Sites are Early Achievers Centers of Excellence

We are very proud to announce that this spring, all classrooms of the José Martí Child Development Center (JMCDC) on Beacon Hill received designation as high quality centers of excellence by Early Achievers! Our longest-operating classes in the El Centro de la Raza building maintained their previously reached level 4, and our newest classrooms in Plaza Roberto Maestas reached level 3 for their first rating.

Early Achievers is Washington State’s Quality Rating and Improvement System and evaluates programs in five quality standards: child outcomes, interactions and environment, curriculum and staff support, family engagement and partnerships, and staff professionalism. The evaluation process includes a site visit from the University of Washington to review children and classroom files and an extensive File of Supporting Materials, as well as classroom evaluations using the CLASS and ERS assessments, which focus on the learning environment and interactions between teachers and children.

On Friday, June 21, the teachers and staff at JMCDC celebrated this wonderful accomplishment on Beacon Hill with a catered dinner and awards presentation to each of the staff who worked hard to reach and maintain this high level of quality. Congratulations to all of our JMCDC staff whose dedication and commitment made this possible, and also a huge thanks to our coaches Elidia Sangerman, Leah Breish, and Bob Findlay, who supported us throughout the entire process.

With the previous announcement that JMCDC at Hirabayashi also received a level 3 score, we are very proud that all three JMCDC sites have achieved this valuable designation, to continue providing high quality, dual-language education to our children and embodying our often-used quote by José Martí: “Para los niños trabajamos, porque ellos son los que saben amar, porque ellos son la esperanza del mundo.” This translates into, “It is for the children that we work, for they are the ones who know how to love, for they are the hope of the world.”

Senator Patty Murray Introduces Bill to Protect Migrant Children

The Stop Cruelty to Migrant Children Act would end family separations at the southern border, strengthen health and safety protections for children and families, and provide additional guardrails and stronger standards to ensure that government funds are not used to traumatize or harm asylum seekers. This mistreatment towards migrant children and their families in border facilities are reminiscent of Nazi concentration camps’ appalling conditions and traumatic impact.

Per Senator Murray, “This legislation is just a step toward mitigating the harm done to these kids and holding those responsible accountable, but it’s a critical one we must take immediately before the kids in our care are even further hurt and traumatized.”

Thank you to the leadership of Senator Murray and other Senate Democratic leaders for looking out for our children as the Trump Administration creates and enforces nationalistic policies overnight. Click here to view a section-by-section breakdown of the Act and a one-pager for the bill.

Let’s Talk Primary

Primary Elections happen at the local and state levels and they precede a general election. Primaries represent a critical time when voters exercise their civic duty by selecting the candidate they believe should be their party’s candidate to run for elected office during the General Election. Primary Elections are important because they determine which convention delegates and party leaders will represent us in the General Election.

Timeline and Dates to Remember
Washington State’s Primary Election is on August 6 meaning it is less than a month away. If you have not updated your voter registration or registered to vote, do not delay because now is the time. Leading up to Election Day, eligible voters can register eight days before and in-person registration on Election Day itself. Online registration is a quicker way to register.

  • July 29 to August 5 – Last eight days to update or register online or through mail.
  • August 6 Primary Election Day. In-person registration is an option, but you must do it during business hours or any time before drop boxes close. They close promptly at 8 PM.

How Do I Register?
Whether you plan to register online, by mail, or in-person, the most important thing is that you do register and vote. This is a great opportunity to jump in and be a part of the conversation during a politically troubling period. It is worth the time to invest in your community by making your voice heard in the election process. Are you ready to register to vote online today? Follow this link to get started on the next steps: MyVote.

Updates: How We Are Responding to ICE Raids

For the month of July, we have two major updates to share. First, in response to the imminent ICE raids, we have been meeting with various local stakeholder groups to ensure that our community members know what to do in the event of an ICE encounter. Second, we have been working alongside our partners to include an automatic adjustment for inflation in all Human Services Department contracts.

How We Are Responding to ICE Raids
Today, immigrant communities are hunkering down yet again to prepare for imminent ICE raids. Adults are avoiding seeking care for their health. Families are practicing their religion behind closed doors. Children are not getting the education they deserve because they are afraid to attend school.

These instances of what widespread fear can do to children and families must cease immediately. Recently, Senator Patty Murray introduced a bill titled Protecting Sensitive Locations Act, effectively blocking ICE raids from happening at schools and churches. The bill codifies the Department of Homeland Security’s existing policies and expands them to ensure that immigrants are able to access education, criminal justice, and social services without fear of deportation.

As a Sensitive Location since 2017, by definition, immigration enforcement activities are prohibited on El Centro de la Raza’s campus. It is critical that community members safely seek services. To that end, we have met with school district administrators, healthcare professionals, rabbis, and other nonprofit leaders to be better prepared for potential ICE encounters. To date, we provided two Know Your Rights trainings in Spanish over the radio. This outreach method allows us to reach thousands of people. Currently, we are building relationships with rabbis and Jewish organizations to declare synagogues as a Sensitive Location. It is important that community members can take sanctuary in a synagogue as well as other places of worship. This work is not easy, but it is necessary. Raids have no place in our schools, churches, daycares, community centers, places of worship – much less our country. We applaud the leadership of Senator Patty Murray and fellow community partners.

To learn more about Sensitive Locations, click here for the toolkit, which includes a list of FAQs. We are also offering workshops. For the schedule, please contact Adriana Ortiz-Serano, our Sensitive Locations Project Coordinator, via email at or by phone at 206-717-0089.

Automatic Adjustment for Inflation to HSD Contracts
Mil gracias to our allies who supported and rallied for the City’s historic piece of legislation to ensure nonprofits’ contracts with the Human Services Department (HSD) keep pace with inflation. Seattle City councilmembers voted unanimously for this law said to be the first of its kind in the country. The City recognized the work we are doing on their behalf to make our community a better place. While this law does not compensate all nonprofit contractors fairly, we are proud of this milestone because it is a step in the right direction. To send a thank-you note to your councilmembers, click here.

How to Contact your King County Councilmembers

To begin, click here to verify in which district you live. Your district number should correspond to that of the King County Councilmember. Click on your Councilmember’s name to be directed to their contact information:

Councilmember Rod Dembowski, District 1

Councilmember Larry Gossett, District 2

Councilmember Kathy Lambert, District 3

Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, District 4

Councilmember Dave Upthegrove, District 5

Councilmember Claudia Balducci, District 6

Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer, District 7

Councilmember Joe McDermott, District 8

Councilmember Reagan Dunn, District 9

How to Contact your City Councilmembers

To begin, click here to verify in which district you live. Your district number should correspond to that of the Seattle City Councilmember. Click on your Councilmember’s name to be directed to their contact information:

District 1 Councilmember Lisa Herbold

District 2 Council President Bruce Harrell

District 3 Councilmember Kshama Sawant

District 4 Councilmember Abel Pacheco

District 5 Councilmember Debora Juarez

District 6 Councilmember Mike O’Brien

District 7 Councilmember Sally Bagshaw

Districts At-large Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda

Districts At-large Councilmember M. Lorena Gonzáez

From Pre-K to Kindergarten

When Emily first enrolled in the José Martí Child Development Center at the beginning of the school year, she was very quiet and timid, and cried when arriving at school. The teachers supported her transition by helping her to learn the routine, make friends with her classmates and read books about feelings and emotions, and she began to develop confidence in herself.

Emily’s social/emotional development has progressed immensely, so much that she now shows great happiness to come to school each day and to interact with her classmates and teachers. She also loves to welcome guests who visit the classroom, giving them gifts and reciting poems or songs in both English and Spanish.

Academically, Emily has developed greatly in all areas of development. She recognizes and makes sounds of all the letters in the alphabet in both English and Spanish, and she knows numbers 1-100. By sounding out the letters, she is even beginning to read some words, including the names of all of her classmates! Emily’s first language is Spanish, but she can also now understand and speak in her second language, English, at the same level as her first language, holding conversations in English and enjoying books and stories in both English and Spanish.

Emily’s success is also due to her mother’s active involvement in her education. Even though she has two jobs, she frequently asks the teachers for bilingual books and other activities she can do at home to support Emily’s development.

Due to the supportive environment at JMCDC and at home, Emily now loves to learn and play and with her teachers and friends. By the winter assessment, she was already meeting all expected developmental levels, so when she starts kindergarten in September, she will be well-prepared for a successful transition to school!

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.