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“Stop the Hate: Come Together” Martin Luther King Day Celebration

Join El Centro de la Raza on January 16th, 2017 for this important celebration of Martin Luther King Day. The MLK Seattle Celebration Committee is organizing a celebration with workshops, rallies, and a march. All events will begin at Garfield High School (400 23rd Ave East Jefferson) and workshops will be held from 9:30 AM – 10:50 AM. Read more or learn how to get involved here.

MLK Day poster

Hope for Youth Student Accepted into Citizen University

Congratulations to Ignacio* from El Centro de la Raza’s Hope for Youth Program for his acceptance to the Citizen University 2018 Youth Collaboratory! He will be one of just 24 students from around the country to travel the nation to Simi Valley CA, Kansas City MO, and Charlottesville VA to meet leading civic innovators from across the country, participate in interactive workshops, and complete independent projects in their communities. This is a unique and exciting opportunity for Ignacio to gain the skills for future involvement with civic engagement!

Ignacio left his mother in Guatemala in pursuit of his dream to become an electrical engineer. He has been an extremely hard worker, joining the workforce at age 12 to support his mother financially, and overcoming numerous obstacles to maintain a high G.P.A. in school. On top of work and school, Ignancio has taken ESL courses at El Centro de la Raza, been a part of our Hope for Youth program, and volunteered for the food bank and youth programs here. After learning more about social justice and community engagement in our youth programs, he now hopes to combine his interest in electrical engineering with civic engagement. His acceptance into the Citizen University Youth Collaboratory is an enormous step in making that dream a reality. We are incredibly proud of him: once again, congratulations to Ignacio!

*name changed for privacy

Young Adults in Tech Now Enrolling!

El Centro de la Raza is excited to announce that we are currently enrolling participants for our fourth cohort of the Young Adults in Tech (YAT) program. YAT provides an 8-week Salesforce Administrator training for young adults with barriers to entry in the employment system. Salesforce Administrator certification can lead to living wage jobs in the technology sector. YAT also provides job readiness training, employment assistance, money management, financial literacy skills and addresses social justice issues with a culturally competent lens. Participants who complete the 8-week program plus a 60-hour internship will receive $1,000!

Our 8-week training begins on Tuesday, January 16th, 2018 at El Centro de la Raza (Transportation fair can also be provided for interested participants upon enrollment).

We are looking for young adults, ages 16-24, who are out of school. The basic eligibility requirements are as follows:

Must be Out-of-School Youth:

  • Not attending school
  • Not younger than 16 or older than the age of 24 at the time of enrollment
  • Low-income individual

Nic Layton – Program Coordinator
Phone: 206-717-0090
Email: nlayton@elcentrodelaraza.org

Las Posadas y Virgin of Guadalupe Day

Las Posadas y Virgin of Guadalupe Day
On December 12th from 6 PM – 8 PM, join El Centro de la Raza in celebrating Las Posadas y Virgin of Guadalupe Day. This is a free and festive cultural event for the whole family! The evening will include Las Posadas, a mural presentation, caroling, live music, free food, a nativity scene, and Santa. This year, Las Posadas will be held in our new event space, Centilia Cultural Center (1660 S. Roberto Maestas Festival Street). Las Posadas is led by the children and teachers of the José Martí Child Development Center! To RSVP or for more information, please call (206) 957-4619.

Nuclear Weapons and Social Justice – from Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility

If you had $1 trillion that you could put towards any issue, what would you spend it on? Education? Affordable housing? Fighting climate change? Ending hunger?

Our government chooses nuclear weapons.

We will spend an estimated $1.2 trillion on nuclear weapons over the next 30 years. That comes out to $4.6 million every single hour. With so many desperately needed programs and departments getting cut in this year’s budget, it’s disturbing to think about spending a trillion dollars on the deadliest and most inhumane weapons ever made.

But the cost is only the tip of the iceberg. Just 20 miles from Seattle is the largest concentration of ready-to-use nuclear weapons in the country – over 1,000 weapons. If Washington state were a country, we’d be the third largest nuclear nation in the world. These nuclear weapons are hurting human health and the environment in our state’s most vulnerable communities.

The uranium used in US bombs has historically been mined largely on Native American land or in colonized countries. In Spokane, WA, the Midnite Uranium Mine has so contaminated Spokane tribal land that it is unsafe to drink the water or collect food from the land. Miners’ health has suffered, too. Not told about the risks, some workers brought home contaminated objects and used materials from the mine. Although a federal compensation program exists for workers, most don’t even know it exists and not a single Midnite Mine worker has received any money.

Also in Eastern Washington, the Hanford Nuclear Site built in 1943 produced most of the plutonium used in over 70,000 nuclear weapons made by the US during the Cold War. This includes the plutonium used in the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, which killed an estimated 80,000 people. Hanford’s construction displaced, without compensation, tribes that had used the land for thousands of years: the Wanapum People, present year-round, the Yakima Nation, who wintered there, and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation and Nez Perce. Roughly 1,500 residents of the nearby cities were also displaced to make way for the Hanford Site. Once it was active, black workers lived in segregated lodgings and were generally restricted to the worst jobs. Discrimination was so bad that one worker described Hanford as the “Mississippi of the North.” When the war ended in 1945, Hanford continued to operate, but no black workers were offered permanent employment.

Today, Hanford is the nation’s most contaminated nuclear site and largest environmental clean-up project. Large volumes of radioactive waste have since been stored in 177 underground tanks, 67 of which have leaked a total of approximately one million gallons of waste into the surrounding soil. Its remediation is expected to cost $115 billion and take 100 years to complete. Present-day workers remain subject to dangerous conditions, including exposure to chemical vapors and radioactive plutonium.

Beyond Washington state, there are dozens of nuclear weapons storage sites, testing areas, labs and production sites, and uranium mines across the country, all with similar stories and consequences. They remind us that although the Cold War has ended, nuclear weapons continue to devastate our communities.

But there are clear steps we can take to secure more effective and equitable compensation for victims of nuclear weapons production and testing. Groups across the country like the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment and the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium are currently fighting to expand the federal Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. Here in WA state, groups like Hanford Challenge and Heart of America are working to better protect workers and residents around Hanford, and properly fund clean-up. El Centro de la Raza is also a part of the Washington Coalition to Stop the New Nuclear Arms Race, which is working to cut government spending on nuclear weapons. You can help today by contacting your members of Congress and state representatives and urging them to rectify these injustices.

Summer Learning Program: New Experiences Through Field Trips!

IMG_3814 (2)During our Summer Learning Program for middle schoolers, we took four field trips to expose our youth to a variety of biological, cultural, historical, and educational experiences. At the Woodland Park Zoo, a group of students analyzed evolution by noticing mokey and human similaries. At the Underground Tour, students learned history of Seattle, a city where many have lived their whole lives, and where others have recently arrived. At the University of Washington, students participated in a scavenger hunt, which gave them access to the academic buildings and made them feel comfortable with taking up an elite space that is traditionally not granted to low-income students of color. At MoPop and the Chihuly Glass Museum and Garden, students interaction with artistic forms of expression such as glass making, music, indie video games, and storytelling. Many thanks to Seattle Parks and Recreation for making this rich diversity of experiences possible!

2017 Roberto Felipe Maestas Legacy Award Recipients

Jorge L. Barón

Jorge Barón has served as the Executive Director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) since April of 2008, having previously worked as a staff attorney with the organization for two years. NWIRP is a legal services organization dedicated to advancing and defending the rights of low-income immigrants and refugees. NWIRP has been in the national spotlight recently for their fierce opposition to unjust executive orders like the travel ban. Jorge helped NWIRP spring into action to secure the release of travelers at SeaTac airport who were facing deportation, challenge the legality of President Trump’s orders in court, lead community education efforts across the state, and more. Jorge’s passion for advocating for immigrants and refugees comes from his own experience of immigrating from Bogotá, Colombia to the United States at age 13. Jorge is a graduate of Yale Law School and Duke University and lives in Seattle with his wife Tyler and their three children Isabella, Luna, and Luca. We are proud to be able to present Jorge with the Roberto Felipe Maestas Legacy Award. He has exemplified working for multi-racial unity through his dedication to our immigrant and refugee community.


Erin Okuno

Erin Okuno is the Executive Director of the Southeast Seattle Education Coalition (SESEC), a coalition of organizations, schools, educators, leaders, parents, caregivers, and SE Seattle residents. SESEC works to eliminate opportunity and achievement gaps through racial equity, community building values, and by engaging communities of color. Their mission is to improve education for all children, especially SE Seattle and those farthest away from opportunities. SESEC organizes cohorts to use data in advocacy and policy work and present their findings to boards, committees, and commissions. Recently, SESEC advocated against an amendment that would divest funds meant to support students of color: they called for racial equity, rather than a race-neutral strategy that would perpetuate institutional racism. Prior to joining SESEC, Erin worked on developing K-12 and early learning education policy, supporting public libraries and developing education coalitions. Through these experiences, she developed a deep interest in racial equity, which prepared her to lead SESEC and the coalition in its efforts to address poor educational achievements and unequal investments in SE Seattle schools. Erin is also a Seattle Public School parent, residing with her family in South Seattle. She is part of the team that blogs about fakequity (fake-equity) at fakequity.com. With her focus on social justice, racial equity, and inclusion in education, Erin is an inspiration to all of us at El Centro de la Raza as a Roberto Felipe Maestas Legacy Award Recipient.


Plaza Roberto Maestas After School Program Goes to DC!

In partnership with King County Public Health, students of Plaza Roberto Maestas After School program presented at the annual Youth Summit at the National Council of La Raza in Washington, D.C.
Our students focused on the legalization of Marijuana in Washington state. They addressed teen health and school-to-prison pipeline by creating drug prevention short films. Their effort and dedication was recognized by the National Council of la Raza and schools from across the country! Their experience inspired them to continue serving their community, but most importantly empower them to speak their voice.

José Martí Child Development Center Graduates 88 Children to Kindergarten!

On June 30th, José Martí CDC staff, teachers, and families gathered to celebrate and honor the 88 students from José Martí Child Development Center who successfully completed the school year and are graduating to kindergarten this year, including our first 10 graduates from our newest classrooms at Hirabayashi Place! The children worked hard all year long and made outstanding progress in all areas of development (social/emotional, physical, cognitive and language), so they are now ready for their next step: kindergarten!

The ceremony was held at the Centilia Cultural Center with a potluck dinner provided by our kitchen and parents, and each class shared their talents through cultural presentations for their families. It was really special event with the the children from Arcoiris singing “Hello and Bonjour,” De Colores danced to “La Iguana,” La Lluvia performed “Soy una taza,” Cristal “Último día,” El Viento danced “La Negra Lorenza,” and Hirabayashi sang “We are the Children of the World/Somos Niños del Mundo” in four different languages!

Also, for the tenth year in a row José Martí CDC partnered with the Seattle Public Library to promote literacy and bi-literacy goals, so Cikeithia Pugh and the teachers presented each child with a book bag and certificate for their year of dedicated reading with the Raising a Reader Program!

We would like to give a big thank you to the ECEAP and Step Ahead programs for making it possible for many of our students to attend preschool. We also want to thank our guest Lobo Tejada del Sol for his collaboration and support during the entire presentation, and a special thanks to Milvia Pacheco for sharing her cultural experience with the children. In addition, many thanks to all of our parents for supporting their children’s educations and for their involvement in the program. Last but not least, a BIG congratulations to our graduates for a great year — we are so proud of all of our students and wish you the best of luck in kindergarten!

Math Exploration Party with Zeno

On Tuesday June 6th, our Parent-Child Home Program hosted a math exploration party for our families in partnership with Zeno, a Seattle based nonprofit dedicated to building children’s excitement and confidence about math!

The floor was spread with articles typically found in any home – socks, plates, beanbags, measuring cups, tiny cars, dinosaurs – in an assortment of colors and shapes. Children were free to play, to paint, to sort and stack.  The goal was to encourage a fun early learning environment for math in a child’s life, and to support parents to be a part of that process. A total of 13 parents and children attended.

A special thank you to Zeno for collaborating with us and providing families with math activities throughout the year!

Learning Center Seattle GED Prep Classes

The Learning Center Seattle Open Doors 1418 youth re-engagement program is now enrolling for GED prep classes. Students enrolled in the program prepare for their GED for free and work with a case manager and education advocate for barrier support and college readiness. Students 16-21 years old and no longer in school should attend an information session to learn more: contact Emily Williams at emily.williams@seattlecolleges.edu or (206) 934-4439,  or text (503) 451-5276 for more information about how to enroll.