Cuentos From Our Programs and Community: August

Sixty nine students graduate from the José Martí Child Development Center!

We are proud to announce that a total of sixty nine children successfully completed their final year of preschool and graduated from the José Martí Child Development Center (JMCDC)! This was an especially challenging year with the pandemic. Still, the students worked hard all year long and made outstanding progress in all areas of development (social/emotional, physical, cognitive, and language). We are so proud of all of the students, and they are now ready for their next adventure: kindergarten!

Due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, we were unable to hold a community graduation celebration as we have done in the past, so the teachers planned safe and creative events for each classroom to honor their graduates. At JMCDC on Beacon Hill, we celebrated our sixty three graduates with walk-up or “drive-through” events where the students received a certificate and gift; and parents could stop to take pictures with their graduates. JMCDC at Hirabayashi Place is decorated with their six graduates’ pictures and artwork and celebrated in their classrooms.

We are so thankful to all of our students and families for your support in helping to keep our program running, and safe and healthy for our students. And mil gracias to ECEAP and Seattle Preschool Program for making it possible for many of our students to attend preschool, as well as the DCYF and City of Seattle subsidy program that provided discounts throughout the year to further support our families. Last but not least, a BIG congratulations to our graduates for a great year — we will miss you all and wish you the best of luck in kindergarten!

Robotics – Bahlam Bots Program

Competition Ready for 2021-2022 Leagues!

Echale Ganas, scholars! Upon completion of the robotics program, scholars received a laptop/tablet duo to support their future academic endeavors.

Normally the Bahlam Bots Robotic program spends the year preparing and then competing in either the First — Lego League or First — Robotics Competition. With this year’s changes to the league, our program shifted to prepare scholars to be competition-ready for the following year. This break from competition allowed scholars to take their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) preparation in a new direction. Which ultimately created a much-needed community. Scholars participated in a number of at-home challenges that focused on mechanical and logical thinking but also worked to strengthen soft skills such as presenting/giving a presentation and public speaking.  For all their hard work, scholars earned a laptop as a means of investment for their future. These future robotics professionals are not only ready to compete next year but are ready for bright careers!

Summer Learning 2021- Federal Way & Seattle, Zoomies meet during first field trip!

Zoomies on Scavenger Hunt

Participants in our afterschool program and newly enrolled scholars entering middle school began this year’s Summer Learning Program on July 2. Fondly name the Zoomies, our scholars have made the best of participating remotely. However, the excitement of getting to go, together on a field trip was physical! Energy and laughter filled long empty halls of El Centro de la Raza, as scholars participated in a scavenger hunt that led them all over the building to learn the story of the over 100-year-old historic building.

Scholars also had a chance to participate in art projects and had a chance to try on archeological hats in exploring minerals and rocks. This became a theme, symbolic of the foundation our scholars exhibited for the rest of the summer.

Although academic classes will continue via Zoom, scholars will have a chance to participate in three more field trips that will ultimately help combat summer learning loss.

Job Readiness Training

Our students, Juana Mas, Dallanary Santos, Andy Castro, and Alessia Manay enrolled in the job training program at El Centro de la Raza’s Business Opportunity Center, have finished their internships with Launch 206! The focus of the program was teaching the participants how to be on-the-water and general seamanship skills. The focus of the program was to help in preparing the students with the skills necessary for careers in the maritime industry. Students gained real-life experience through field trips, guest speakers, and information sessions. In addition, each student received a stipend of $1,000! Check out some highlights of their work here!

Seattle Public Schools is currently transitioning the portal for this year’s Youth Maritime Accelerator program. If you are interested in learning more about the upcoming project please call Danna Villar Cardenas YJRT (Youth Job Readiness Training temp coordinator) Phone number: (206) 887-3574 or email:

Tomando Control De Su Salud

Kathlene, a participant in our Tomando control de su salud (Taking Control of Your Health) program, gave us a wonderful testimony of her time with us. She said, “I’ve applied all that I have learned from these classes. The biggest thing I took away from the course was the vital information regarding my health. Along with the information, I also shared my experiences with those around me daily. I was consistently recognized for my progress within the course. I am currently trying to apply all that I have learned in this course and in my routine to improve my quality of life. For this, I give thanks to the people who have formulated this wonderful course and to El Centro de la Raza for all their help.”

Launch and Grow Your Business

Jeanett Quintanilla is a licensed lawyer from Peru and is fascinated with the law and her community. Her passion for serving others continued once she moved to the United States and volunteered at the Latino/a Bar Association of Washington legal clinic. She then became a certified bilingual paralegal in Washington state. Jeanett participated in the entrepreneurship course Launch and Grow Your Business through the Business Opportunity Center (BOC). After graduating from the course, she was given one-on-one business advising through BOC on permits and advertisement online. Now, Jeanett is the owner of Manu Group LLC – a professional services company that offers paralegal, Spanish translation, and empowerment workshop services to the community. To learn more about her business and services, please contact Jeanett at or (206) 778-6407.

Youth Job Readiness Training

Students enrolled in El Centro de la Raza’s Youth Youth Job Readiness Training program finishing up the end of their session

Finding a job can be a challenge for youth. They must determine what careers are available, their interests, and what skills they need to develop. Another problem among youth is the lack of skills, experience, and education that make them eligible for the workforce. The Youth Job Readiness Training Program is tackling these two problems with a solution: training youth about competent job training, financial literacy, internship placement, and academic support for future education. The program runs through the Business Opportunity Center and recruits 15 to 20-year-old high school students to attend a year-long training course. In addition to technical courses, the program teaches students networking skills, presentation skills, and project development.

This year has been a success despite the pandemic—We learned how to be together in a virtual setting. Every Wednesday, we had the opportunity to share not only knowledge but also emotional support. In addition, students also receive field training at partner organizations. As part of their training, one group this year will be building a boat with the Center of Wooden Boats through Launch 206. One student has already finished her internship with the Port of Seattle for a consecutive year, and another one is working with Seattle Goodwill. Also, a group of students is doing their internship at the Consulate of Guatemala and another one with El Centro de la Raza. Some organizations are providing stipends and school credit for internship completion.

So far, the program has succeeded very well in one of its goals: to help youth find employment. Most of our graduates now have jobs or are attending college, a remarkable achievement for our program. Graduates have found jobs in a variety of fields, from construction to customer service. We are happy to see our students enjoy the knowledge and assistance that we provide and how much we can learn from them. As the number of students willing to explore the employment experience grows, we will continue to have more success stories that show the importance of this program in helping to build the Beloved Community.

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