Inspiring Children to Get Hands-On with Mother Nature’s Help

Our José Martí Child Development Center promotes children’s overall developmental stages. Teachers at our Hirabayashi Place location have designed a year-long curriculum about garden spaces for our children. Through a great partnership with InterIm CDA, our children regularly visit the Danny Woo Garden to gain hands-on experience.

At the Garden, our children get to apply what they have learned in the classroom. We engage our children with fun games and activities to understand the practice of plant life cycle, food harvesting, and pollination. Other examples of activities include feeling the textures of leaves, harvesting fruit for our Food Bank, trimming back flowers, and caring for the compost bins.

This curriculum emphasizes children’s understanding of a sense of place and appreciation for interconnectedness. That is why we encourage our children to work together to complete maintenance tasks in the Garden. They are always enthusiastic about taking field trips to the Garden. To keep inspiring children in nature, please consider making a gift today.

Supporting our Teachers’ Professional Development

Last week, four of our early learning teachers graduated from Goddard College with a Bachelor’s Degree of Arts in Education. They earned 120 credit hours and fulfilled a semester-long residency where they worked on their theses. By graduating with their degrees, they gained more knowledge as early childhood learning teachers and strengthened their commitment to their students. Our teachers’ thesis were inspired by their love for children, especially in today’s political climate where immigrant children suffer from trauma as a result of being separated from their families. Below is what our teachers studied:

– Teacher Rocio studied how mothers can advocate for their children exhibiting challenging behaviors.
– Teacher Maricela explored the best ways to support young Latino children who live in the United States in maintaining their cultural identities.
– Teacher Sandra examined the impact of using cultural songs on toddlers’ socioemotional, linguistic, and motor development.
– Teacher Thania investigated the role of poetry as an early childhood education call to action to help immigrant children who are or have been detained in cages.

Community Briefing on Beacon Hill Quantitative Air & Noise Study and Free Documentary Viewing with Popcorn

On February 29, El Centro de la Raza is hosting a public meeting at Centilia Cultural Center from 11 AM to 1 PM when Dr. Edmund Seto and Dr. Tim Larsen will brief community members on the results of the University of Washington’s Beacon Hill Quantitative Air & Noise Study. We strongly encourage guests to RSVP, but we will welcome all guests for the briefing at the door.

Amharic, Cantonese, Mandarin, Somali, Spanish, and Tigrinya interpreters will also be joining us. To request another language, please contact Maria Batayola via email at by February 23. Lunch will be served at noon during the table discussions regarding the next steps. Vegetarian choices are available, and guests are welcome to bring their own lunches. An accurate RSVP count will avoid over- or under-buying food.

Mil gracias to our concerned elected officials for their support in making this study possible: Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, former Council Chair for Sustainability and Transportation Mike O’Brien, and former Councilmember Bruce Harrell.

Also, throughout the day, we will also be featuring three free viewings of Beacon Arts’ documentary “Blue Sky Trails” at Centilia Cultural Center in honor of the upcoming 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. There will be three showings: 10 AM, 1 PM, and 2 PM. In addition, there will be an opportunity to meet with the Beacon Hill Arts activists between showings. RSVP now and make sure you help yourself to free popcorn before settling to watch the documentary.

Unidos @ Work and Highline College Prepare Students for the Workforce

Highline College and El Centro de la Raza have partnered to help Highline College students earn credits through our Unidos @ Work 7-week course at our Federal Way location. As housing affordability issues have led to a shift in demographics, this course provides job training, digital literacy skills, employment assistance, and supportive services for bilingual program participants looking to enter the workforce. As Unidos @ Work graduate Luis Guarnis said, “We are working with Excel, PowerPoint, software, and Internet. [These tools are] very helpful and ha[ve] changed a part of my life.”

The next cohort for the Unidos @ Work program begins on March 2, and we have some exciting news to share! Upon participants’ completion, they are eligible for a total of 22 credits:

+ Cert – OS and Hardware Fundamentals (5 credits)
MOS – Outlook – Microsoft Outlook (2 credits)
MOS – Word – Microsoft Word (2 credits)
MOS – Power Point – Microsoft Power point (3 credits)
MOS – Excel – Microsoft Excel (5 credits)
MOS – Access – Microsoft Access (5 credits)

For more information, click to read the flyer in English and Español. Please feel free to contact Juan Pablo Castellanos via email at or by phone at 360-986-7017.

Recap: Federal Way Open House Event

Elected officials and supporters of the Beloved Community who want to see communities thrive by providing culturally appropriate programs and services in South King County. From left to right: Auburn City Councilmember Chris Stearns, Representative Mike Pellicciotti, Senator Claire Wilson, Representative Bill Ramos, Estela Ortega, Mayor Jim Ferell, Joseph Martin, Representative Jesse Johnson, Miguel Maestas, Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos, and Mayor Nancy Backus.

On February 7, about 300 people attended our Open House event in Federal Way. We opened our latest location in Federal Way because 56% of Latinos who live in King County live in the southend where there is a lack of culturally appropriate programs and services. We are responding to that gap as a result of the shift in demographics. We are providing 17 different programs and services out of this new office including services for veterans, small business development, workforce training, and home visiting programs for parents and their young children.

Our role as El Centro de la Raza is to work with our community, friends, and allies at building a fair and just society by promoting life-changing programs, culture, and community engagement. Dr. King would call that the building of the Beloved Community. Our community will become stronger because the families and individuals who walk through our doors in Federal Way and are seeking support will be uplifted to work towards achieving stability and resiliency. “We will work very hard to be good neighbors with our values of fairness and equality to continue to work at building Dr. King’s Beloved Community,” said Executive Director Estela Ortega.

Mil gracias to our speakers and supporters: Joseph Martin, Senator Claire Wilson, Representative Mike Pellicciotti, Auburn City Councilmember Chris Stearns, Representative Jesse Johnson, Mayor of Federal Way Jim Ferell, Mayor of Auburn Nancy Backus, Unidos @ Work program participants Vanessa Enamorado and Luis Guarnis, Rudy Reyes, Verizon’s Vice President and Associate General Counsel for the Western Region, and Jennifer Chastain, Community Relations Manager at Bank of America.

Also, special thanks to Senator Claire Wilson, Representative Mike Pellicciotti, former Representative Kristine Reeves, Speaker Emeritus Frank Chopp, Senator David Frockt, Representative Steve Tharinger, and King County Councilmember Peter von Reichbauer. Each person listed here supported El Centro de la Raza’s response to the lack of culturally appropriate programs and services in South King County by helping us purchase an office building in Federal Way.

Finally, thanks to KING 5 News and Federal Way Mirror for their coverage of our successful Open House event.

Update and Call to Action: Airport Noise Abatement Bill

Mil gracias for taking action to move forward the Airport Noise Abatement bill (HB 1847). When passed, you will have helped include areas between Beacon Hill and Federal Way as part of the area that is advocating for noise abatement. Currently, the bill is in the Senate Rules Committee, of which Senator Bob Hasegawa is a member. Senator Hasegawa has committed to pulling HB 1847 onto the Senate Floor for a vote. Please help sustain this community-driven momentum by asking Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig and Senate Floor Leader Marko Liias to put this bill to a Senate vote. For your convenience, we are including a letter template for you to personalize and then send to Senate Majority Leader Billig and Floor Leader Liias.

The text in the brackets below is intended to prompt you for your information. Please delete the brackets and enclosed text before entering the appropriate information. To identify in which district you live, click here and enter your address. Doing so will help elected officials tally how many community members are in support of this bill’s passage.

To: Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig <>; Senate Floor Leader Marko Liias <>

CC: Senator Bob Hasegawa <>; Maria Batayola <>

Re: Bring HB 1847 to a Senate Vote

Dear Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig and Senate Floor Leader Marko Liias,

My name is {YOUR-FULL-NAME} and I live at {FULL-ADDRESS} in District {NUMBER}. I ask that you schedule HB 1847 for a vote as soon as possible. {I-MYSELF / I-HAVE-FRIENDS-AND-FAMILY-WHO} live in the affected neighborhood. Airplanes fly overhead every 90 seconds on average, and noise levels are from 70 to 90 decibels, which are well above the standard of 55 decibels during the day and 45 at night.

Please help expand the airport noise abatement area to include the affected neighborhoods between Beacon Hill and Federal Way. Airplane noise adversely impacts the health and well-being of children, adults, and families who live in the area. Passing HB 1847 will make a noticeable difference in {OUR / THEIR} lives. Thank you.



Prospective First-time Home Buyers Get Started

On early February, the Business Opportunity Center (BOC) developed and provided educational training for community members who want to own their first home. Within one week, the Business Opportunity Center finished designing the training. On the day of the training, 66 participants attended and teachers from our José Martí Child Development Center provided childcare. In 2019, the BOC trained 123 prospective home buyers.

All 66 participants successfully completed the required training. We were thrilled with the outcome because we were able to assist communities who face housing affordability issues in our area. The next step is our Financial Empowerment staff will schedule one-on-one sessions with each participant. These sessions are intended to improve their credit situation through lending circles. This resource is a peer-to-peer model that helps participants access a loan with 0% interest while building credit. We are so excited to work with participants so that each of them can own their first home.

El Centro de la Raza’s Staff Service Awards in 2019

Fidencio Angeles

Francisco Martinez

Natasha Zastko

Lizbet Huizar

Martha Diaz

Martha David

Heyda Raymundo

Sharon Hu


Hilda Magaña

Martha Cano
Miguel Maestas

Rocio Espiritu
Bertha Hernandez Ortiz
Martha Garcia

Maria Luisa Aguilera Torres
Iran Barba
Luisa Citlali Beltran

Ana Garcia

Rosalina Alvarez Gutierrez
Martha David
Ceyla Diaz Penaloza
Yaiko Iizuka
Jieying Lei
Juana Mendoza
Luisa Graciela Oviedo
Rocio Ruiz
Fengqin Wang Marolla
Danyuan Zhao

Francisco’s Story

Francisco* has been a participant in our Senior Program for the past two years. He has neither a home nor family members. He faces the elements when he is not sleeping at a shelter. Before the sun rises, he must leave the shelter per policy. As a result, he arrives at El Centro de la Raza earlier than other Senior Program participants in search of a friendly place where he can stay warm.

He enjoys the culturally appropriate meals that we provide in a congregate setting. His favorite dishes have chicken in them, and he also loves to drink coffee. Aside from eating a nutritious meal every day, Francisco is socializing with others who speak his language, rather than isolating himself.

There is more to the Senior Program than a nutritious meal and opportunities to socialize. For example, last year, Francisco joined the computer literacy 8-week class for seniors and learned how to use a laptop.

Thanks to King County’s partnership, El Centro de la Raza is now a Senior Hub. We are expanding the operating days and hours of our Senior Program so that seniors, like Francisco, can now attend our daily programming and have access to resources. Francisco says, “I am so glad you guys are open on Mondays again because I didn’t have anywhere to go on those days.” Francisco greatly benefits from being in our Senior Program because he can remain an independent, engaged, and active community member. We are glad to have him here.

Los Eternos Indocumentados

We have joined 20 local organizations in co-sponsoring a bilingual film showing and discussion of Los Eternos Indocumentados, which tells the story of exploitative corporate control in Latin America, backed by the U.S. government, and how it has led to the plundering of natural resources, incitement of brutal wars, and forced migration. As the crisis of migration grows, this film will give us an opportunity to learn about and share ideas of how to stand in solidarity with fair treatment of the migrant families at our borders.

The Seattle Interfaith Migrant Rights Network (SIMRN) and the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the International Migrants Alliance (IMA-PNW) are co-hosting this event. Local experts will be present to answer questions during the discussion following the film. Click to learn more about this event and get free tickets. Seats are limited!

Note: The building’s entrance, doorways, and bathrooms are all wheelchair accessible, there will be Spanish interpretation during our discussion, and we will prioritize front row seating for people who are hard of hearing.