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.

El Centro de la Raza’s 18th annual Día de los Muertos CELEBRATION

We hosted our Annual Día de los Muertos event Saturday, November 4th, at our Centilia Cultural Center. Many joined us for the Ofrenda Exhibit, delightful food, live music, entertaining performances, children’s activities, door prizes, and a Pop-Up Mercado.

Día de los Muertos is a moment for cherishing the lives of those who’ve passed. This year’s theme is: ‘Un Pueblo Sin Memoria es un Pueblo Sin Futuro’ / ‘The People without memory is a people without a future.’ We aim to pay tribute to Mother Earth and those who’ve passed due to homelessness, mental illnesses, gun violence, and other environmental factors.

We also want to honor the survivors of the 50th anniversary of the military coup d’état in Chile, which removed democratically elected President Salvador Allende. Many faced tragedy—murder, disappearance, or exile. Numerous exiled Chileans sought support at El Centro de la Raza and played a pivotal role in our early years.

Check back in for photo gallery updates.

Photographs by Aidan Sales.

NewsLETTER: OCTOBER 2023

Recap of the Building the Beloved Community Gala 2023

We’re thrilled to share the highlights from our spectacular annual Building the Beloved Community Gala, which took place last Saturday, October 14, 2023. This event was a remarkable success, and it wouldn’t have been possible without your support.

An Unforgettable Evening: The gala was a night to remember, with attendees coming together to raise crucial funds for 43 programs and services that positively impact over 20,000 individuals and families across our region.

The Gala in a Glance:

  • Musical Magic: Banda Vagos set the stage on fire with their electrifying live music, creating a vibrant atmosphere that had everyone on their feet.
  • Networking and Connections: The reception was a fantastic opportunity for attendees to connect, share stories, and strengthen the bonds that make our community special.
  • Speakers & Presenters: Aneelah Afzali, Maria Casarez, Enrique Cerna, Pablo Cohen, Juan Flores, Veronica Gallardo, Fred Granados, Elisa Jimenez, Anika Lehde, Claudia Lendo, Daniela Lizarraga, Miguel Maestas, Jesus Mendoza, Mimi Santos and Estela Ortega.
  • Bidding Wars: Our silent and live auctions provided an exciting experience for all, with one-of-a-kind items and experiences up for grabs, all for a great cause.
  • Culinary Excellence: The three-course meal was a culinary delight, pleasing the palates of all who attended.
  • Honoring Remarkable Contributions: A highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Roberto Maestas Legacy Awards, Roxana Norouzi, Executive Director of OneAmerica and Keith Tucker, Founder and Executive Director of Hip Hop is Gree, individuals who have made outstanding contributions to our beloved community.
  • 2023 Roberto Felipe Maestas Scholarship Recipients: We take great pride in recognizing the diligent efforts and unwavering dedication of 20 promising scholars who attended Thomas Jefferson High School in Federal Way and are part of our Hope for Youth and ELEVAR Case Management Programs: Angel Sanchez, Astrid Mejia, Celeste Guzman, Claudia Lendo, Crystal Morales, Edwin Hernandez, Erandy Loes Ramirez, Israel Vasquez, Jasmine Venegas, Jany Aguilar Ramirez, Joel Jesus Quinones, Kathia Toro, Keila Gaspar, Luz Seleni Chaves, Mariana Leos-Bravo, Mayra Aguirre, Nicolas Nava, Oscar Perez, Reyny Gonzalez and Valeria Perez-Cruz.
  • Mil gracias to our El Centro de la Raza team, as well as William Wright Photography.

Your Invaluable Support: We want to express our deepest gratitude to all the attendees, donors, volunteers, and sponsors who made this gala a tremendous success. Your support enables us to continue our mission of building a beloved community that benefits thousands of lives.

Stay Connected: We look forward to keeping you updated on the impact of your contributions and the progress we make throughout the year.

Thank you for being a part of this memorable night and for your unwavering commitment to our cause. Together, we are making a real difference in our community.

Warm regards,

El Centro de la Raza

¡Mil Gracias to our Volunteers!


We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the dedicated volunteers from Starbucks, Microsoft, Seattle University, and the University of Washington. Your unwavering commitment to our cause is nothing short of inspiring. We look forward to continued collaboration and the positive change we can create together. Thank you for being the driving force behind our mission.

¡Mil Gracias to our Sponsors!

TAKE ACTION: SEPTEMBER 2023

VOTE YES FOR PROP 1: SEATTLE HOUSING LEVY

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.

TAKE ACTION: JULY 2023

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.

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

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!