Don’t wait until election day! Vote today. Go to VoteWA.gov for information about voting center and ballot drop box locations near you.

We strongly encourage you to vote YES for Prop One, The Seattle Housing Levy, to help ensure affordable housing options for our community’s most vulnerable members. Your support can make a significant difference in addressing housing affordability in Seattle. Learn more here.

How Vaping Harms Students’ Mental Health: Tips For Parents and Educators

Beginning a new school year can be stressful for students. However, it’s important to know that vapes, like cigarettes, can negatively impact students’ physical and mental health. Parents, teachers, mentors, and school administrators can offer guidance and tools to help students make informed decisions. What can parents, teachers, influential adults, and school administrators do? Let more here.

Latino Democratic Caucus Statement on Palmer v Hobbs Voting Rights Act Decision

OLYMPIA – On August 10, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington ruled in favor of Latino voters living in Central Washington in Palmer v Hobbs, finding that Washington’s legislative map violates the federal Voting Rights Act. The court concluded that the districts drawn in the Yakima Valley dilute the Latino vote and prevent the Latino community from electing representatives of their choice. The bicameral Latino Democratic Caucus released the following statement in response:

“We, the members of the Washington State Latino Democratic Caucus, strongly support creating fair and just electoral maps to ensure that the voices of the Latino community are heard.

“The dilution of Latino votes is not new in Washington State. In 2018, the Legislature passed the Washington Voting Rights Act to provide a remedy for the known problem of voter dilution in municipalities and counties. This year, the Legislature passed the Washington Voting Rights Act (WVRA) 2.0, to strengthen and improve the WVRA by making it easier for communities of interest to bring voter dilution claims and to allow plaintiffs to recover costs when a remedy is implemented.

“Latino voters from the Yakima Valley won enfranchisement for their community in court, and we support their right to propose their preferred remedy directly to the court. The bipartisan Redistricting Commission failed to draw a legislative map that complied with the federal VRA. We support voters seeking justice in a forum where it has already been achieved, devoid of partisanship and gamesmanship. We do not support reconvening the Redistricting Commission.

“We are committed to fair representation in our government at every level. The Latino community deserve the opportunity to elect leaders of its choice to the state Legislature. To have a truly representative democracy voters must be able to exercise their rights in a just system.” Learn more here.

Cuentos From Our Programs and Community: August 2023

Exciting Food News Alert! Introducing La Pisca with Dulce Santos at Plaza Roberto Maestas!

Craving some delicious bites? We’ve got you covered with mouthwatering Elote, Esquites, and Toste-esquites, all for just $7 each!

Operating Hours: 12PM – 7PM

Days: Tuesday – Saturday

But wait, there’s more! La Pisca isn’t just any food business – it’s proudly presented by El Centro de la Raza – Business Opportunity Center (BOC). We’re all about supporting local ventures and bringing you flavors that’ll make your taste buds dance. 

Come on down and savor the flavors of La Pisca!

Free Legal Clinic

Providing free legal assistance can level the playing field for clients who aren’t able to pay for capable consultations. 

Our Free Legal Clinic in August assisted 50+ people and provided approximately $10,000 worth of pro bono services to our community. A special thank you to the volunteer attorneys and translators.  

Receive free, limited advice at our next clinic, on September 13.

Si Se Puede Academy

Our Si Se Puede Academy has 41 scholars, 18-21 years old in King County, enrolled in our year-round General Education Development (GED) program. Three have officially graduated, with more anticipated by the end of August 2023.  Jovens gain access to mentors that look like them, prepare for high paying careers, experience culturally focused field trips and build a connection with nature, porque aqui… ¡Si Se Puede! 

Take a look at the jovens enjoying a field trip at el lago!

TAKE ACTION: August 2023

Earn your degree, tuition-free via The Seattle Promise Program  

Earn your degree, tuition free via Seattle Promise. A college tuition and support program launched by the City of Seattle, Seattle Colleges and Seattle Public Schools following passage of the Families, Preschool, and Promise (FEPP) Levy in 2018. 

Seattle Promise has three core components:

  1. Tuition at the three Seattle Colleges: South, Central, or North
  2. Equity scholarships, which provide flexible funding to students, for books, transportation, housing, or other student needs
  3. Student supports and advising beginning in the junior year of high school and lasting through completion of a degree, certificate, credential or transfer to a four-year institutions.

Seattle voters passed the FEPP Levy in November 2018 with the goal of achieving educational equity, closing opportunity gaps, and building a better future for Seattle students. 

For more information on the Seattle Promise Program, visit https://www.seattlecolleges.edu/promise.


King County levy for seniors and vets wins voter approval

El Centro de la Raza is thrilled King County voters heavily supported the renewal of a levy for veterans and senior services approved another six years of a tax that funds programs for veterans, seniors and other vulnerable people.

Voting matters!

Source, The Seattle Times. Read more here.


Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell Announces City Initiative to Help Save Families Up to $23,000 Per Year 

New CiviForm program reduced time for residents to apply to City discount programs by 80%, offering up to $23,000 total possible savings.  

Benefits portal at seattle.gov/affordable makes it easier and faster for residents to get the help they need. 

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell announced the expansion of the City’s Affordable Seattle initiative – part of his efforts to make City discount and benefit programs easily accessible to all. Mayor Harrell has championed CiviForm – an innovative portal designed as a simple one-stop shop to quickly and conveniently apply for City services to save residents time and money by making it easier to apply for multiple benefit and discount programs at the same time. This initiative is supported by a new Executive Order directing all City benefit and discount programs to identify and implement changes that decrease the burden on residents. Among the changes, departments are directed to adopt or integrate with the CiviForm platform by the end of 2024.  

CiviForm is a tool that makes it faster and easier for residents to apply to City of Seattle benefit and discount programs and was designed with community input to ensure it works for the neighbors who will benefit the most. 

“Rooted in Seattle’s spirit of big ideas and support for those in need, we are leveraging innovation and collaboration to make it easier for people to understand what assistance programs they qualify for and then apply in just minutes. CiviForm exemplifies our One Seattle approach to public-private collaborations: its development was supported by know-how from technology companies and its design was informed by testing with community non-profit partners” said Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell.

Residents and community partners can learn about, check their eligibility, and apply for City of Seattle benefits and discount programs at www.seattle.gov/affordable.

Currently, the City of Seattle offers residents the ability to apply for the following programs via CiviForm: 

  • Seattle Parks and Recreation Scholarship Program: Residents can save 50-90% off recreation programs for all ages including aquatics, recreation, preschool and childcare.  
  • Seattle Preschool Program: Residents can get access to free or discounted preschool for children ages three and four. 
  • Gold Card: Residents ages 60 and older can save on retail, services, art, entertainment, and tourism with the Gold Card, including free passes to the Seattle Aquarium. 
  • FLASH Card: Residents ages 18-59 with qualifying disabilities can save on retail, services, art, entertainment, and tourism with the FLASH Card, including free passes to the Seattle Aquarium. 

The site is accessible via desktop and mobile in eight languages: English, Traditional Chinese, Spanish, Vietnamese, Somali, Amharic, Korean and Tagalog.  

Daniela Lizarraga, Navigator Supervisor, El Centro de la Raza 

“Collaborating with the City of Seattle and Google.org has been amazing. My dedication is to serve families in Seattle who face language and technology barriers. I was honored to be able to provide valuable feedback and lift the voices of the community I work with in hopes to have more equitable access to resources through CiviForm.” 

Katie Yuen, Community Connector, El Centro de la Raza 

“It is a privilege to work closely with the city and google.org to design a platform to help our vulnerable community. They are such a professional and knowledge team. I believe technology can change life, especially for those who have language barriers.  Seattle’s cost of living has sky-rocketed, the CivicForm would impact many people to make their lives easier.”

Read more here.


Banning these five things would reduce plastic waste by 1.4M tons each year: report

Stopping the production of these items could also reduce humanity’s carbon footprint.

Five single-use plastic items like cigarette filters and plastic straws should be banned to reduce the amount of plastics polluting our oceans, according to a new report from the Ocean Conservancy.

Bans on single-use plastic bags, straws, cutlery, cigarette filters and Styrofoam food containers in the United States would reduce plastics usage by about 450 billion pieces a year.  

That reduction would shrink the country’s plastic waste by 1.4 million tons, according to the report.

Read more here.

Staff Volunteer: July 2023

El Centro de la Raza continues to connect with incredible young members of our community to assist our participants and overall programs. 

On the left are volunteers Jake Tish and Amritha Dewan assisting with updating our interest list for Plaza Roberto Maestas and our Columbia City development. Both Jake and Amritha learned Spanish in school and are now utilizing their skills to be able to connect and assist our community with resources such as obtaining housing, food, legal guidance, etc.  

On the right is our summer intern Alberto Guzman in the middle, recent Washington State University, Human Development graduate. Alberto has assisted with updating our monthly newsletter and navigation team flyer to include our new branding. With Alberto’s help, the first newsletter with extensive resource information went out to El Centro’s Navigation Team. 

Take Action: June 2023

The Latino Center for Health summit, Long COVID in the Latinx Community: An Unaddressed Consequence of COVID shares their findings. 

An overview of the key topics discussed at the summit. This document, titled “LCH Long COVID Summit Overview,” is attached to this email. We believe it will serve as a valuable resource, capturing the essence of the insights and ideas generated throughout the event.

A call to action from The United Farm Workers of America union (UFW) to contact your local Safeway Store Manager, and tell them to support UFW by buying union Monterey Mushrooms. 

Contact: Irv Hershenbaum, First Vice President, United Farm Workers, cell # 661-979-6270

Cuentos from Our Work: June 2023

Four Amigos – Beloved Community Ground Breaking

In a festive and energizing ceremony, El Centro de la Raza broke ground on its newest affordable housing project, the Four Amigos – Beloved Community, in Columbia City on June 14th, 2023 in front of nearly 100 people, including community members and leaders, and elected officials. 

The $64-million, family-oriented building will have 87 apartments, most of which will be two- and three-bedroom units. The building will serve families with incomes between 30% and 60% of the area median income. It is just two rail stops from Plaza Maestas, where El Centro de la Raza’s headquarters and services are located.

“This mixed-use development is named in honor of the Four Amigos, who emphasized the importance of multiracial collaboration, and the continued effort for justice,” said Estela Ortega, Executive Director of El Centro de la Raza. “Their legacy of multiracial unity continues to inspire people in our region and beyond. While we have achieved a lot over the last 50 years, there’s still much work to do.” 

The building will house an early childhood development center and the Consejo Counseling and Referal Service satellite office. The Church of Hope, located at the site where the building will be constructed, partnered with El Centro de la Raza to provide affordable housing. The church will be housed next to the building. 

“The residents of this development will experience improved health outcomes, attainable educational opportunities, and stability for families and their children. That’s what we all want, and they deserve that,” Ortega said. “Affordable housing is a public good that will benefit not only this neighborhood but the entire city by supporting local businesses. People will contribute to the local economy and create more job opportunities. 

The project is expected to be completed by 2024. Latino-focused art will adorn the exterior with mosaics and murals created by local Latino artists. 

“The wonderful thing about the Four Amigos – Beloved Community development is that it is designed and planned so that it can serve families with children,” said Miguel Maestas, Associate Director of El Centro de la Raza.

Original Gang of Four member Larry Gossett told the crowd about the social justice struggle he and the other Four Amigos led over 50 years ago and Roberto Maestas’ declaration that The Beacon Hill School he had taken over “would be called El Centro de la Raza.” 

“I’d like all of you to join me right now in honoring El Centro de la Raza for continuing this excellent commitment to all the people of the greater Seattle community in the manner that they have, with this being the latest example,” Gossett said. 

Media Round Up

Yahoo News: Groundbreaking ceremony for new affordable housing building (yahoo.com)

South Seattle Emerald: El Centro de la Raza Breaks Ground on Columbia City Housing Development | South Seattle Emerald

The Seattle Time: https://www.seattletimes.com/business/amazon-pledges-23-million-to-build-affordable homes-in-seattle/

A heartfelt thank you to all of our speakers and participants for being part of this special event! Your contributions have helped us go above and beyond! 

Estela Ortega, Executive Director of El Centro de la Raza.

Miguel Maestas, Associate Director of El Centro de la Raza

Brian Ramirez, Housing Development Associate of El Centro de la Raza

Joseph Martin, Indigenous Pray Song Performer

José Martí Child Development Center Children Performers

Larry Gossett, Member of “The Four Amigos”

Daniel J. Glen, 7 Directions Architects

Emily Alvarado, Vice President of Enterprise Community Partners 

Maiko Winkler-Chin, Director of Seattle Office of Housing

Marion Mollegen McFadden, Principal Deputy Assistance Secretary for Community Planning and Development, United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Bishop Shelley M. Bryan Wee

Pastor Darla DeFrance, Columbia City Church of Hope

Events: June 2023

July 23RD: Latina/o bar association of washington’s Raise the bar 5K

“The Latina/o Bar Association of Washington (LBAW) is a 501(c)(3) organization founded to support Latinx legal professionals and the Latinx community in Washington State. We provide a number of services, scholarships, and programs across the state, all with the mission of uplifting our Latinx community. This is our first 5K and we hope to raise funds to support our work. We provide free monthly legal clinics at El Centro de la Raza in Seattle and hold clinics in various locations across the state. We provide scholarships to law students, undergraduate students preparing to take the law school admissions test (LSAT), and high school students interested in the law. We provide legal training, professional development, mentorship, and various other programmatic initiatives throughout the state, including judicial evaluations for lawyers seeking to become judges. We look forward to seeing you out there and thank you for helping us continue to serve our community.”

Join the first annual Raise the Bar 5k for the Latina/o Bar Association of Washington (LBAW)!

Date: July 23rd

Time: 9 AM

Register: Here

July 12th: Free Legal Clinic

On the second Wednesday of every month, we host free bilingual legal clinics with volunteer attorneys in partnership with the Latina/o Bar Association of Washington. Consultations are on a first-come, first-served basis.

Date: July 12th, Intakes are from 4-6 PM and attorney consultations are from 6-8 PM

Location: Centilia Cultural Center, 1660 S Roberto Maestas Festival St., Seattle, WA 98144

Learn More: https://www.lbaw.org/events/free-legal-clinic-5

July 15th: Seattle Latinx Pride Festival

Everyone is invited to the 5th Annual Seattle Latinx Pride Festival organized by Somos Seattle!

Let’s celebrate our LGBTQ and Latino/a/x identities. There will be entertainment, dancing, food, community resources/vendors & MUCH MORE!

Date: Saturday, July 15 | 5-10 PM

Location: Plaza Roberto Maestas, 1660 S Roberto Maestas Festival St., Seattle, WA 98144

Learn More: https://fb.me/e/3HOo8mRNo

October 14th: 2023 Building the Beloved Community Gala

Please save the date for our annual Building the Beloved Community Gala! The in-person event will include live music, a reception and plated dinner, an awards ceremony for our Roberto Felipe Maestas Legacy Awards and Scholarships recipients, live and online auctions, and more! We are looking forward to celebrating our anniversary with you!

Tickets for individuals and tables are on sale now! Early-bird tickets are available through Thursday, September 14, 2023.

Date: Saturday, October 14, 2023

Location: Seattle Convention Center (Summit Building)

RSVP Here: https://elcentro.ejoinme.org/register2023

Events: May 2023

May 31st: Housing Levy Rally

Join the Housing Development Consortium (HDC) at Seattle City Hall on May 31 for a rally in support of affordable homes, services, and fair wages for front-line staff! There will be a public hearing about the 2023 Housing Levy immediately following the rally

Date: May 31st, 3:30 PM

Location: Seattle City Hall, 600 4th Ave | Seattle, WA 98104

You can sign up for testimony tips and talking points for the public hearing here: bit.ly/42lI1aL

June 6th: Women of Color Leading Change

Many of King County’s leading anti-poverty agencies are led by women of color. Their vision, life experience, and executive leadership skills are driving how we work to solve poverty and provide all of our neighbors with equitable access to the support and resources they need to thrive.

For the first time ever, four of these leaders will come together for a dynamic community conversation in the Social Justice Salon Series: Women of Color Leading Change.

Date: June 6th, 7 – 9 PM

Location: The Great Hall at Town Hall Seattle | 1119 8th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101

More Information: https://www.solid-ground.org/get-involved/social-justice-salons/#wocleaders

June 8th: Columbia City Project – Community Meeting

Columbia City Rendering Header

Please join us virtually for a community meeting about our Columbia City project!

El Centro de la Raza’s Housing at Columbia City will include 87 affordable, apartments for families, a multicultural, bilingual child development center, a permanent home for Church of Hope, and office space for Consejo Counseling and Referral Services.

Date: June 8th, 6 – 7:30 PM

Location: Virtual

RSVP Here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/el-centro-de-la-razas-columbia-city-project-community-meeting-tickets-622080468427

June 14th: The Four Amigos,
Beloved Community Groundbreaking Ceremony

We would like to invite you to the Groundbreaking Ceremony of The Four Amigos, Beloved Community. This mixed use development will include 87-units of affordable housing, a new four-classroom Jose Marti Child Development Center, Consejo Counseling Services offices, and Church of Hope worship space located in the Columbia City neighborhood of Seattle.

Date: June 14th, 11 AM – 12 PM

Location: 3818 S Angeline St, Seattle, WA 98118

RSVP Here: Please email Camila Puelpan to RSVP. (cpuelpan@elcentrodelaraza.org)

October 14th: 2023 Building the Beloved Community Gala

Please save the date for our annual Building the Beloved Community Gala! The in-person event will include live music, a reception and plated dinner, an awards ceremony for our Roberto Felipe Maestas Legacy Awards and Scholarships recipients, live and online auctions, and more! We are looking forward to celebrating our anniversary with you!

Tickets for individuals and tables are on sale now! Early-bird tickets are available through Thursday, September 14, 2023.

Date: Saturday, October 14, 2023

Location: Seattle Convention Center (Summit Building)

RSVP Here: https://elcentro.ejoinme.org/register2023

Cuentos from Our Work: May 2023

Cinco de Mayo

So many community members came out to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with us, and we are so grateful! We had prepared for the worst, but the weather was kind and stayed sunny and warm for most of the day.

There were so many fantastic performers, including traditional singers, dancers, and musicians. The amount of talent on display was inspiring! Teachers and students from all our José Martí Centers also put on a fashion show wearing traditional clothing to celebrate the diversity of their cultures!

We also had so many wonderful small businesses selling art, clothing, jewelry and other hand-made items. Our food vendors were much in demand as people lined up to try their delicious food! Several organizations also joined us to provide vital resources, like vaccinations, to our community.

Mil gracias to everyone that made this event so successful, including our staff, volunteers, vendors and performers! A very special thanks to our generous sponsors: Beacon Arts, the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, Geico, UW Medicine and Harborview Medical Center. Our celebration would not have been possible without them!