Take Action: March 2024


Stay Informed: Mayor Harrell’s release of Draft One of the Seattle Comprehensive Plan marks a significant step forward in addressing the city’s housing challenges. With a focus on expanding housing opportunities across all neighborhoods, the plan signals a commitment to creating a more inclusive and accessible city for all residents.

The comprehensive plan outlines ambitious goals and strategies to address the pressing housing needs of Seattleites. By promoting equitable development and prioritizing affordability, the plan aims to ensure that every resident has access to safe, stable, and affordable housing options. Read the plan here.

El Centro de la Raza Programs: Our very own Weatherization and Environmental Justice Program Manager, Ivan Montes, recently spoke with the South Seattle Emerald about the importance of energy navigators for all Washington communities, citing the Beacon Hill program as a prime example.

Montes emphasized the significance of initiatives like the Energy Upgrade Navigator Program, currently under consideration in the Washington State Legislature. If passed, this program would expand the network of individuals, like Montes, who are dedicated to connecting community members statewide with a wider range of home-improvement upgrades.

He highlighted the crucial role of community outreach in simplifying the often complex process of accessing rebates and assistance. According to Montes, effective community engagement can bridge the gap between well-intentioned government policies and their real-life impact on people’s lives.

For more more insights from Ivan Montes and learn about the potential impact of the Energy Upgrade Navigator Program, read the full South Seattle Emerald article here.

Articles of Interest:

  1. Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act – Washington State Department of Ecology
  2. Cosmetics manufacturer support – Washington State Department of Ecology
  3. Immigration by the Numbers: Recent Reports Show Asylum Seekers and Refugees Strengthen the U.S. Economy | UnidosUS

Cuentos from Our Work: March 2024

Business Opportunity Center – Celebrating Community Impact and Success Stories at El Centro de la Raza’s Business Opportunity Center!

On Thursday, February 22, we convened at our Business Opportunity Center to rally behind over 40 Latina women entrepreneurs in our community. Our aim was clear: to equip them with the tools and resources essential for igniting and nurturing their business ventures.

But the impact didn’t stop there! We delved into pivotal programs offered at El Centro de la Raza like the Unidos at Work Program, offering crucial technology job training. Additionally, our discussion on the Unidos in Finance Program illuminated pathways in financial management, including our Lending Circles Program, which provides safe methods for building credit and savings, among other vital services.

Our Business Opportunity Center took the spotlight, shedding light on the comprehensive support we offer, from obtaining business licenses and permits to navigating banking and marketing strategies.

Our dedication to fostering the success of Latina-owned small businesses remains unwavering. They are the backbone of our community’s economic prosperity. To all who attended and contributed to the success of this event, we extend our heartfelt gratitude!

Special thanks to our partners: Unidos at Work Program: Oscar Sepulveda, Housing Counselor for Foreclosure Prevention and Lending Circle: Janet Torres & Denisa Aitonean. Express Credit Union: Cinthya Gomes, Craft 3: Edwin Rios, Mass Mutual: Hilda Acevedo, Mexican Consulate: Kara Mora Laveaga & Nora Arauj and Creciendo Juntas: Diana Camacho and EmmaMoreno

Stay tuned for more transformative workshops and events, crafted to uplift and empower entrepreneurs across our community. Together, we’ll continue to reach new heights!

El Centro Skate Rink – National Speed Skating Circut Invitational Recap

El Centro’s Skate Rink was buzzing with excitement as we hosted the National Speed Skating Circuit’s all-ages invitational event, accompanied by Pro Tryouts for NS. This electrifying competition brought together 200 talented athletes from across the nation to showcase their skills on the rink.

Team Xtreme from El Centro Skate proved their mettle, securing an impressive 2nd overall placement in the competition. The highlight of the event was when one of our exceptional skaters shattered a longstanding record for the fastest flying 100m lap. Clocking in at an astonishing 8.24 seconds, equivalent to nearly 30MPH, this remarkable feat left spectators in awe and exemplified the incredible talent within our skating community.

🏆 Battle in Seattle: A Legacy of Excellence 🏆

As anticipation builds for another thrilling year of racing, El Centro Skate Rink extends heartfelt gratitude for the nationwide support and recognition we’ve received. The Battle in Seattle, an event with a rich history spanning three decades, stands as a testament to the passion and dedication of skaters nationwide.

We invite all skating enthusiasts to join us in celebrating this legacy of excellence and to stay tuned for more exhilarating events and competitions at El Centro Skate Rink.

See more here!

A Call to Action: Support The Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act of 2024

We’re calling on you to support Legislative Bill S. 3565.

We ask you to urgently call upon Washington’s Congressional Delegation to act swiftly in renewing ongoing Federal funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). This vital program is a lifeline for our most vulnerable families across rural, Tribal, suburban, and urban communities in Washington, enabling them to access affordable internet services and acquire essential devices. The ACP goes beyond mere connectivity; it’s about facilitating access to education, employment opportunities, job training, elder care, family connections, faith programs, healthcare, farming resources, and civic participation. Its impact on our communities cannot be overstated.

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a benefit program that helps ensure households can afford reliable broadband services for work, school, healthcare and much more. The ACP was enacted by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in November of 2021 as an extension of the Emergency Broadband Benefit, which provided a monthly benefit to eligible households to receive access to broadband during the first 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more here.

We urge you to join us in spearheading the ongoing funding for the – Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act of 2024 and ask Washington’s Congressional Delegation to support Legislative Bill S.3565.

Contact Washington’s Congressional Delegation here.

Call Washington State Senators Patty Murray (202) 224-2621 and Maria Cantwell – https://www.senate.gov/states/WA/intro.htm

Representative Marilyn Strickland
1708 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Representative Dan Newhouse
504 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Representative Derek Kilmer
1226 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers
2188 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Representative Marie Gluesenkamp Perez
1431 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Representative Rick Larsen
2163 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Representative Kim Schrier
1110 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Representative Adam Smith
2264 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Representative Suzan DelBene
2330 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Senator Patty Murray
154 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Representative Pramila Jayapal
2346 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Senator Maria Cantwell
511 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Let’s come together in our dedication to closing the digital gap and guaranteeing fair access to act now by reaching out to your elected officials and advocating for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).

Cuentos from Our Work: February 2024

Business Opportunity Center – Celebrating Community Impact and Success Stories at El Centro de la Raza’s Business Opportunity Center!

Meet Señora Lulu, the inspiring founder of Sabor Delicioso from Mexico, whose journey to success is a testament to the transformative impact of El Centro de la Raza’s Business Opportunity Center. Overcoming Challenges: Success didn’t happen overnight for Señora Lulu. Starting a business in a new country presented her with early challenges – a new territory, unfamiliar processes, and the common hurdles faced by many entrepreneurs. The journey was further complicated by the language barrier and the unfamiliarity of the business landscape. A Brush with Fraud: In the face of these challenges, Señora Lulu teetered on the edge of falling victim to fraudulent schemes due to language barriers and the novelty of the business environment. However, in a defining moment, she turned to El Centro de la Raza’s Business Opportunities Center for assistance, seeking a path to legitimate success. Empowering Through Education: Determined to succeed, Señora Lulu immersed herself in the workshops and classes offered by El Centro de la Raza. From computer literacy to credit counseling, lending circles group, entrepreneur classes, and seeking mentorship from the Events Coordinator at Centilia Cultural Center – she embraced every opportunity for growth. A Success Story Unfolds: Today, Sabor Delicioso stands as a testament to Señora Lulu’s determination, resilience, and the profound impact of community support. She began her small business as a food vendor at Plaza Roberto Maestas, then expanded into food catering. On February 10th, she celebrated the Grand Opening of her Food Truck Business, Sabor Delicioso Seattle. In an effort to give back to her community, she offered 50% off all food for the entire day. Her success story resonates through the walls of El Centro de la Raza, inspiring others to overcome barriers and realize their dreams.

Take Action: JANUARY 2024

Voting is a fundamental right that allows you to influence decisions on issues that matter to you. Registering to vote ensures your voice is part of the democratic process, shaping the future from local policies to national leadership.

Join The Question of Palestine and the Evolution of Solidarity and Resistance in the U.S., a talk and discussion featuring Karam Dana, Alyson McGregor Distinguished Professor of Excellence and Transformative Reasearch University of Washington – Bothell, as part of their War in the Middle East Lecture Series. UW Seattle on January 30th, 2024. Starting @ 5PM. Registration /RSVP Not required. You can just show up. Location: University of Washington in the HUB: 211B-South Ballroom. Facebook Link here!

ADVOCACY IN ACTION: SUPPORT LEGISLATIVE BILL – SB 6191

We’re reaching out to you because we believe in the power of community and the importance of affordable housing for everyone. Right now, there’s a fantastic opportunity for us to make a positive impact by supporting SB 6191!

SB 6191 is a crucial initiative that aims to establish a permanent fund for the State Housing Trust Fund, which includes support for Farmworker Housing. This fund plays a vital role in financing affordable housing projects, making it possible for communities like El Centro de la Raza to create spaces like Plaza Roberto Maestas and the Four Amigos development in Columbia City.

This week the Senate version of the Affordable Homes Act, SB 6191 by Senator Frame, will be heard in Ways & Means. Please take a moment and help us show vigorous support for the senate bill as well.

As a reminder, both bills enact progressive policy that provides predictable, sustainable funding for state housing programs by:

· Creating a permanent fund source for the state Housing Trust Fund, including farmworker housing.

· Investing in permanent supportive housing (PSH) construction.

· Investing in operations, maintenance & services for affordable housing, including PSH.

· Establishing robust housing programs serving populations with developmental disabilities.

The senate bill has received support from 17 co-sponsors, and it will be heard Thursday, January 25th at 4pm in Senate Ways & Means.

Please take the following specific actions now:

  1. Sign in Pro today to support the bill in advance of the 4:00pm Ways & Means hearing on January 25th.  Follow this link CSI (wa.gov) to sign-in and state your Pro position on the bill.
  1. Activate your networks today to sign-in Pro before the hearing. Opposition to this bill will be fierce. It is critical the bill is well supported with Pro sign-ins, as soon as possible.

Housing is a basic need. Like food, water, and air, people need it to survive. When people have the opportunity to get back into housing and have a decent, affordable place to live, they can stabilize and thrive.

The lack of housing affordability and related instances of homelessness affect every community in Washington state. And over the next 20 years, will need over 1 million more units to accommodate a growing population. Over half of those homes need to be at 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI) or below.

We must act now, or the housing affordability problem will only get worse and more expensive. Recent state investments in housing have laid the foundation for success. But those historic efforts to create statewide solutions for homelessness and housing must be sustained and expanded to ensure that everyone in our state has a safe and affordable place to live. 

Cuentos from Our Work: January 2024

Staff Accomplishments – Staff Awards & Holiday Party

El Centro de la Raza is an organization where our team exemplifies an extraordinary commitment to our mission. Throughout 2023, our dedicated staff went above and beyond to make a meaningful and positive impact on the lives of those we serve. As we approached the end of the year, we took the opportunity to gather and celebrate the remarkable accomplishments of our staff.

The celebration included acknowledging and honoring the exceptional efforts of our team members through staff awards. These awards serve as a recognition of the hard work, dedication, and passion that each staff member brings to our organization. We believe in fostering a culture of appreciation, and the awards are a way to express gratitude for the outstanding contributions that contribute to the success of El Centro de la Raza.

The festive spirit continued with a joyful holiday party, where staff members came together to celebrate not only the achievements of the year but also the sense of community that defines El Centro de la Raza. The holiday party provided a moment of camaraderie, allowing our team to unwind, connect, and reflect on the collective impact we’ve made.

At El Centro de la Raza, we value and recognize the efforts of our team members, understanding that their dedication is integral to achieving our mission. As we look forward to the upcoming year, we remain inspired by the passion and commitment of our team in making a positive difference in the community we serve.

Teacher of the Year – José Martí: Adulfa Gomez

Teacher of the Year – Plaza Roberto Maestas: Maria De Jesus Ramirez

Teacher of the Year Hirabayashi: Claudibet Garcia Velasquez

Teacher of the Year – Cedar Crossing: Maria Jasso

The Executive Director’s Award: Veronica Gallardo,Facilities Manager

Employee of the Year: Chris Espinoza Alvarez, Youth Program Manager

Spirit Award: Ricardo Solis, Maintenance

Volunteer of the Year: Lorena Ware

Volunteer Team of the Year: Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority at UW

Team of the Year: Latino/a Bar Association of Washington

A Call to Action: Defend Our Families – Time Sensitive!

We’re calling on you to defend immigrants and their families!

A Call to Action to Defend Our Families! A bipartisan group of senators is negotiating a deal to pass funding for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan in exchange for extreme, permanent changes to U.S. immigration and asylum law. Now, the White House has signaled support for trading away refugee protections. This tradeoff would destroy lifesaving protections for people seeking safety and increase chaos at the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as expand fast-track deportations of immigrants in the U.S

These are unprecedented threats to refugees and our loved ones and communities.

Time is of the essence: the President hopes Congress will act on a deal before the holidays.

Call Washington State Senators: Patty Murray (202) 224-2621 and Maria Cantwell (202) 224 3441

What to say when you call: I strongly oppose any spending deal that:

  • Trades foreign aid to Ukraine for harmful immigration policies that hurt asylum seekers, children, mixed-status families, and the long-term undocumented.
  • Goes against our values and international obligations by closing our doors to refugees.
  • Results in mandatory detention or sends refugees back to danger and death in their home countries.
  • Creates a nationwide dragnet that deports the undocumented with deep social and economic roots in the U.S. and tears families apart.”

For more information, see links below!

  1. Congressional Republicans are demanding harsh immigration policies.
  2. Recent reports (see here and here) suggest President Biden may agree to a draconian deal with lawmakers.

NewsLETTER: November 2023

Solidarity Statement for Peace and Justice in Israel/Palestine 

Thursday, November 16th, 2023

As faith leaders, elected officials, community leaders, educators, and individual residents of Washington state, we are heartbroken and horrified by the escalated violence and bloodshed in Israel/Palestine. As people of all faith backgrounds and conscience, we deeply value life, and are appalled by the significant loss of human life. 

We condemn all targeting and killing of civilians, whether Israeli or Palestinian, of any or no faith background. Such indiscriminate violence harming innocent civilians is not only a violation of law, but also of basic morality and human decency. While this violence occurs in the context of daily injustices under a military occupation of Palestinians, we are outraged at the mass scale  of kidnappings and killings of Israeli civilians including children, women and the elderly on October 7, 2023, as well as the mass killings, bombings and displacement of human beings away from their homes and communities as collective punishment of the 2.3 million people in Gaza (nearly half of which are children) since then. We must prevent more devastation. 

Both the Talmud and the Quran recognize that killing one life is like killing all of humanity, and saving one life is like saving all of humanity (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5; Quran 5:32). Our hearts grieve for the loss of humanity right now, and we will strive – through the world’s brokenness – to find hope, and save all of humanity by saving even one life. 

Accordingly, we reject the efforts to add further fuel to the fire of violence and vengeance through reactionary rhetoric or revenge-seeking actions. Our hearts recognize the tragedy, trauma and terror experienced by all peoples in and connected to the region. We are committed to “holding the whole” and feeling the pain of those who are currently suffering, oppressed, grieving, heartbroken, and/or terrified. In the face of deepening polarization, we choose the side of peace and justice. We recognize the horror experienced by all right now, and we uplift the humanity of all peoples in the region. 

Further, we reject the efforts to conflate the actions of Hamas with the Palestinian people, just as we reject equating the actions of the Israeli military or government with the people living in Israel or Jews across the globe. 

We call on the United States to use its influence and position to facilitate de-escalation in the region. We call for an immediate ceasefire; the safe return of the hostages captured by Hamas; the safe return of those displaced from their homes; a stop to the acts of war by the Israeli military that violate international law; the restoration of basic necessities like food, water, electricity, and medical services to the Gazan people; and the opening of humanitarian aid corridors. We ask all of our elected officials in Washington state and beyond to amplify these calls and to take action to achieve them. 

In addition, we condemn antisemitism, islamophobia, xenophobia, and anti-Arab bigotry and violence that may result, as we have tragically seen with the brutal stabbing that killed 6-year-old Palestinian-American Wadea Al-Fayoume in Illinois. We call upon elected officials, corporate leaders, and school administrators in Washington state to be a voice for safety and calm, and to provide support to all those impacted during this devastating crisis, especially the children. 

Together, we envision a world of peace and justice in Israel/Palestine, an area that is sacred to people of all three Abrahamic faith traditions. A world that embraces and delivers safety and security, freedom and liberation to everyone who inhabits the land, which necessarily requires an end to the decades-long military occupation. We look forward to the day when our beloved Israeli and Palestinian children alike will be able to celebrate life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness together. 

In the powerful words of James Baldwin, ‘the children are always ours, every single one of them, all over the globe; and I am beginning to suspect that whoever is incapable of recognizing this may be incapable of morality”. 

Add Your Name to this Statement Below!

Link for individuals here. Link for organizations here.

Cuentos From Our Programs and Community: November 2023

Si Se Puede Academy

The one-year milestone of our Si Se Puede Academy’s GED program marks a significant achievement. Over this past year, 56 students have directly benefited from our program’s tailored support. Our academy focuses on scholars in King County, providing a specialized and year-round General Education Development (GED) program designed to meet their educational needs. The impact extends beyond just academics; it encompasses mentorship, career preparation, and a supportive community tailored to ensure these scholars have the resources and guidance to excel. This anniversary is a testament to our commitment to nurturing educational success among the youth in our community. Learn more here.

Bilingual Free Legal Clinic

As we conclude this season of our Free Legal Clinic, we’re proud to highlight the impact made. In November, our clinic supported over 80 individuals, delivering around $16,000 worth of pro bono services to our community. A heartfelt thank you goes out to the volunteer attorneys and translators whose dedication made this possible.


Enviornmental Justice Navigator, Ivan Monte

Learn from Ivan Monte, our Weatherization and Environmental Justice Navigator, as he discusses pivotal insights with Emerald Cities Northwest here.

18th Annual Dia de los Muertos Celebration

Rain or shine, together, we commemorated our loved ones in a truly unforgettable 18th Annual Dia de los Muertos Celebration at El Centro de la Raza. Your unwavering support and enthusiastic participation made this event an incredible success, and we’re thrilled to share the highlights with you here!

Despite the weather’s whims, our spirits remained high as we honored our lost loved ones in a celebration filled with cultural richness and heartfelt remembrance. From the young to the young at heart, the celebration offered something special for everyone. The children’s activities were a hit, sparking creativity and laughter among our little ones. Meanwhile, the entertainment at our Centilia Cultural Center captivated audiences, celebrating the vibrant traditions of Dia de los Muertos.

Our Pop-up Mercado was abuzz with excitement, showcasing local artisans and their incredible crafts. We’re proud to share that we served over 1,000 plates of flavorful mole and delighted over 2,000 attendees with traditional chocolate caliente.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who contributed to the success of this event—our sponsors, funders, volunteers, vendors, performers, and, most importantly, our wonderful community. Your presence and active participation infused the celebration with warmth and authenticity. A big shout-out goes to photographer Aidan Sales!  

Once again, thank you for being a part of El Centro de la Raza’s 18th Annual Dia de los Muertos Celebration. Your presence illuminated the event and made it an occasion to remember. Let’s continue to honor our traditions, cherish our loved ones, and build a future filled with unity and togetherness.

Photographs by Aidan Sales.