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!

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!

Cuentos from Our Work: March 2023

Skate and Connect Community Night

On Monday February 20th, we welcomed over 200 attendees to our Skate and Connect event at our recently acquired El Centro Skate Rink.

Familias from across King County came out to enjoy our skate rink and connect with local community organizations. The event was an opportunity for community members to create relationships while also having fun and staying active.

Thank you to everyone who came out to support this event, and to our community partners who helped make it a success! We look forward to continuing to provide opportunities for our community to come together and connect in meaningful ways.

Hip Hop is Green

Some of our youth program participants have recently been working with Hip Hop Is Green (HHIG), the first Hip Hop plant-based climate change health and wellness organization. They give the students the opportunity to increase their leadership skills and participate in multiple community-based projects throughout the Seattle area. Through workshops and activities, our scholars have learned about the global impact of external factors such as pollution and government. They have also learned about the importance of selecting healthy food decisions and advocating for their rights. Most importantly, students have developed their confidence on how to create community-driven innovative solutions in their community.

Federal Way Mirror Article of the Year 2023

The Federal Way Mirror recently named the story of our acquisition of the former Pattison’s West skating rink as their 2023 Article of the Year. It is a testament to the dedication and support of our community. Gracias to reporter Alex Bruell for his wonderful article and the whole Federal Way Mirror for this honor!

Read the original winning article on the Federal Way Mirror website.

Our Executive Director Estela Ortega, left, stands with Mirror reporter Alex Bruell and Liz Huizar, director of Youth Services at El Centro de la Raza.
(Photo credit Olivia Sullivan / The Mirror)

2023 Día de los Reyes Recap

Gracias to everyone that came out to celebrate with us at our Día de los Reyes events!

Mil gracias to the students, teachers, and parents of our José Martí Child Development Centers for their traditional performance of the procession of los Tres Reyes Magos! Gracias also to all our small business vendors who were selling such amazing products.

History & Significance of Día de los Reyes

January 6th marks a symbolic celebration among the Mexican culture and various areas around the globe as we celebrate Día de Los Reyes also known as Three Kings’ Day. The holiday represents the day the Three Wise Men: Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthazar, representing Arabia, the Orient, and Africa, arrived on horse, camel, and elephant, bringing gold, incense and myrrh to the baby Jesus after following what is known as the Christmas star to the town of Bethlehem.

In honor of the Three Kings bringing gifts to the baby Jesus, children in Latin America, and around the world celebrate by exchanging gifts. As tradition, children leave out their shoes on the night of January 5th for the Three Kings and the next morning they awake to find gifts for them. Another common tradition during Día de Los Reyes is to bake or purchase and serve Rosca de Reyes, or King’s Cake. The Rosca is shaped like a wreath and decorated with candied fruit, and the most important part, baked with a small baby Jesus doll inside. Whoever gets the piece of the Rosca with the doll has to have a celebration on Día de la Candelaria in February. In the Mexican culture, the host will serve tamales, and a Mexican hot chocolate or champurrado.

El 6 de Enero marca una celebración simbólica entre la cultura Mexicana y varias partes del mundo, ya que celebramos el Día de Reyes, también conocido como el Día de los Reyes Magos. La celebración representa el día en que los Tres Reyes Magos: Melchor, Gaspar y Baltasar, que representan Arabia, el Oriente y África, llegaron a caballo, camello y elefante, trayendo oro, incienso y mirra al niño Jesús después de seguir lo que se conoce como la estrella de Belén.

En honor a los Reyes Magos que traen regalos al niño Jesús, los niños en Latinoamérica y en todo el mundo celebran intercambiando regalos. Como tradición, los niños dejan sus zapatos afuera la noche del 5 de Enero para los Reyes Magos y la mañana siguiente se despiertan para encontrar regalos para ellos. Otra tradición común en el Día de Los Reyes es hacer o comprar y servir una Rosca de Reyes. La Rosca tiene forma de corona y está decorada con fruta seca, y la parte más importante, horneada con un pequeño muñeco Jesús en su interior. Quien corte la pieza de la Rosca con el muñeco tiene que tener una celebración el Día de la Candelaria en Febrero. En la cultura Mexicana, el anfitrión sirve tamales y un chocolate caliente o champurrado.

From Nicaragua to the Embassy of Guatemala

“I give it a ten,” said Fatima Trana de Flores, when she was asked how important El Centro de La Raza is for the Hispanic community.   

Originally and very proudly Nicaraguan, Fatima Trana de Flores was happy to share her story about how El Centro de La Raza helped her interview and land a job at the Embassy of Guatemala. 

Like many immigration stories, she spent several years separated from her husband, as he worked in the US several years before she could join him.  Once she arrived, it took time to adjust to the climate, food, different culture, but the hardest by far was the language barrier.  

When she indicated to her human resource manager where she worked that she wanted to grow professionally, they referred her to El Centro de La Raza to find training opportunities for Spanish-speakers.  Though she had worked in Nicaragua, she definitely appreciated the ability to refresh several work skills she had not used in a while. 

Through El Centro de La Raza, she was able to improve her resume, develop her office skills, practice job interviewing, and find a great fit by attending career fairs.  

Her recommendation? Always study to better yourself as a worker and a person.  She encourages people to study and to find ways to contribute their grain of sand to the economy and development of this country.   

Fatima says her next steps include practicing English on a daily and eventually, she hopes to find work in defense of human rights with a nonprofit or government agency and address gender violence, in particular. We look forward to continuing to see her grow and inspire! 

The health and success of El Centro de la Raza begins with you. Support from a broad base of community members including foundations, individuals, and corporations is critical to our success and we ask that you carefully consider making a personally meaningful gift – it may be the largest gift you have ever made.

February 2022: Cuentos from Our Work in the Community

Organizing & Training Our Environmental Justice Leaders

Training has begun for El Patio and Plaza Roberto Maestas residents in environmental justice leadership, education and community organizing in the Latino community.

Through this program, Beacon Hill residents are learning how to advocate for better health and environmental outcomes and influence policymakers to protect their community from the disproportional impacts of massive transportation developments in the works.

For context, Beacon Hill is already surrounded by major roadways.  On average, every 90 seconds, an aircraft will fly over Beacon Hill.  70% of aircraft traveling to and from Seattle fly over Beacon Hill. This causes intense noise pollution, which has adverse effects on stress levels, sleep, cardiovascular health, and youth’s learning capabilities. Though they are certainly considered a vertical fenceline community, they are not a fenceline community and are not eligible for mitigation. Additionally, residents of Beacon Hill are predominantly people of color, who already tend to be disproportionately harmed by environmental issues.

Apart from learning to measure air and noise pollution and advocate for bills that address this issue, participants were able to connect with other environmental justice-based organizations such as the nonprofit organization Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition (DRCC).  Residents learned how other communities are organizing and supported the DRCC’s signature-gathering efforts for their petition on Change.org. 

Through storytelling, community building, and leadership development, participants are prepared to effectively fight the proposed Sea-Tac Airport Sustainable Air Master Plan (SAMP).  Follow and join our movement against SAMP here:  We Fight For Environmental & Health Justice – El Centro de la Raza

Our Highest Turnout and Certification for New Homebuyers Yet!

In the face of a deepening housing crisis, we are proud to report the highest level of enrollment and certification for our first-time homebuyer workshop of 2022.  A total of 84 participants enrolled, and 42 received a two-year certificate that will grant them access to Washington Housing Finance Commission programs and Down Payment Assistance.

Apart from providing these classes online in English and Spanish at no-cost, our program is unique in providing home loan options for ITIN holders. 

To offer a comprehensive overview of the process, we welcomed a real estate agent and a lender certified by the Washington Housing Finance Commission.  The topics we covered ran the gamut from credit-strengthening and budgeting to title, escrows, home insurance and inspection.

Please share our joy with the future homeowners from our program below:

The health and success of El Centro de la Raza begins with you. Support from a broad base of community members including foundations, individuals, and corporations is critical to our success and we ask that you carefully consider making a personally meaningful gift – it may be the largest gift you have ever made.

Legacy Award Nominations are Open

El Centro de la Raza turns 50 this year! Help us celebrate by nominating someone who is doing important Social Justice work in our community for the Roberto Felipe Maestas Legacy Award. The Legacy Awards are our way of honoring of our late founder, Roberto Maestas, who helped organize the 1972 peaceful occupation of the abandoned Beacon Hill school, which later became El Centro de la Raza as we know it today. Roberto Maestas’s life was dedicated to building “Beloved Community” through multi-racial unity. He deeply believed that poverty, racism and social inequity could only be eradicated if people of all races and backgrounds came together to do so.

The 12th Annual Roberto Felipe Maestas Legacy Award will recognize two individuals who have exemplified Building the Beloved Community through multi-racial unity and working to eliminate poverty, racism and social inequity. We encourage people of all races, ethnicities, ages, and gender identities to apply for this award. 
El Centro de la Raza will celebrate awardees and their contributions by making a $1,000 gift in their name to an organization of their choice.  Award recipients will be recognized at El Centro de la Raza’s 50th Anniversary Building the Beloved Community Gala, which is set to take place on Saturday, October 8, 2022.
Legacy Award applicants can self-nominate or be nominated by someone else. Recipients are asked to attend El Centro de la Raza’s Building the Beloved Community Gala.
Deadline for application submission is Tuesday, May 31, 2022 at 5:00pm Pacific Time. 

Please nominate yourself or someone you know today via our form.

Read about our 2021 honorees, Dr. Estell Williams and Edwin Lindo

The health and success of El Centro de la Raza begins with you. Support from a broad base of community members including foundations, individuals, and corporations is critical to our success and we ask that you carefully consider making a personally meaningful gift – it may be the largest gift you have ever made.

January 2022: Cuentos from Our Work in the Community

Vaccines for Familias on MLK Day

We are as proud as the little gentlemen above of the vaccines we were able to deliver on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday in partnership with the City of Seattle and the Othello Station Pharmacy!

In total, 110 vaccines were administered to families, including 17 pediatric Pfizer vaccines.

Thank you to our partners, our community, and our donors for helping make our communities safer!

The Covarrubias: From a Dream in Oaxaca to Home Ownership in Tacoma

On La Hora del Centro de La Raza‘s radio hour, Ana Covarrubias shared how she and her husband, José Pablo, moved from living with relatives as newly arrived immigrants from Oaxaca, to eventually buying a three-bedroom home in Tacoma after participating in El Centro de La Raza’s Certified First Home Buyer Program.

Once they arrived to Seattle, she and José Pablo faced what she described as typical challenges encountered by immigrants; navigating a new language, culture, and credit system, while working to secure their livelihood and find employment. Throughout these challenges, their primary dream in this country, to own a home, stayed at the forefront of their minds.

Ana Covarrubias and Oliver Contreras on La Hora del Centro de La Raza’s Radio Hour

Since arriving, they lived with relatives and eventually rented for five years. Ana felt rent was eating a large part of their income. According to research, one in four Latinos spend more than half of their income on rent and, indeed, this poses a major challenge for wealth building for the community. In mid-2020, she reached out to El Centro de La Raza.

She signed up for a webinar for first-time homebuyers, where she learned strategies to budget and improve their credit. At the same time, she signed up for the Unidos at Work classes to improve her technology skills and enrolled in entrepreneurship courses also offered by the Business Opportunity Center. This holistic approach led to improved savings and income generation for their household.

Upon completion of the home buying program, participants earn a certification recognized by the Washington Housing Commission, which is valid for two years and qualifies participants for down payment assistance.

Ana said the program was very comprehensive and made her feel confident navigating the home buying process at every step. When Oliver Contreras asked how she felt as a homeowner, she said, “Indescribable. It has changed our life, definitively.” Others always ask her how much it cost her to enroll in the program and she tells them it was at no cost to participants, and she hopes others will take the leap and start their homeownership journey.

The Covarrubias lovely new home!

Want to learn more about what is going on in the community? Tune in to La Hora del Centro de La Raza on Seattle’s 1360 El Rey on Tuesdays from 3:00-4:00 PM EST.

The health and success of El Centro de la Raza begins with you. Support from a broad base of community members including foundations, individuals, and corporations is critical to our success and we ask that you carefully consider making a personally meaningful gift – it may be the largest gift you have ever made.

Meet Dallanary Santos – Future Teacher and Job Readiness Training Grad

Just three years ago, Dallanary Santos and her family moved from Honduras to the United States. It was a decision her mom Dania Romero had sometimes second-guessed because of the difficulties they have faced but seeing the opportunities her children have here and the support her two daughters have found support at El Centro de La Raza to discover and pursue their dreams has really made her confident it was the right move.

To adjust to the new culture, Dallanary enrolled in the Youth Job Readiness Training (YJRT) Program at El Centro de la Raza, where the program equips students with job readiness, career development, post-secondary options, while building self-sufficiency skills at school and at work.

Through the YJRT program, Dallanary landed an internship at the Center for Wooden Boats and the Business Opportunity Center with El Centro de la Raza.  Through these experiences and one-on-one career orientation, Dallanary has chosen to pursue a major in Education at Seattle Center College, where she has been accepted. She is excited to graduate in June 2022!

Dallanary attributes her success in school and in life to her mother, Dania Romero. Dania has four children and has signed up her two oldest daughters to the YJRT program. She has seen her daughters find confidence within themselves and flourish and said she admires the dedication and work ethic the staff at El Centro de la Raza bring. Dania is proud of her daughter Dallanary for her accomplishments and is looking forward to seeing her graduate in June.

The health and success of El Centro de la Raza begins with you. Support from a broad base of community members including foundations, individuals, and corporations is critical to our success and we ask that you carefully consider making a personally meaningful gift – it may be the largest gift you have ever made.

An Excellent Posada Night Market for our Businesses & Community!

El Centro de la Raza’s Business Opportunity Center (BOC) would like to thank everyone that joined us for the Posada Night Market on December 17, 2021!

In the spirit of the holidays, and as an effort to help promote local small businesses, BOC planned and promoted a holiday outdoor night market, which was held at Plaza Roberto Maestas on Friday December 17, 2021. The event was Ugly Sweater themed, where individuals were able to buy arts & crafts from small businesses owned by some of our Small Business Development Program’s participants, listen to music produced by DJ  Sabrocito, and take pictures at a Christmas-themed stage provided by Luis Enrique and Piscis Photo & Video Studios. Attendees also enjoyed delicious food from participants of the food incubator program including Antojitos Lita Rosita, Shark Bite Ceviches, Outsider Pizza and Recetas de Abuelita!

The event helped promote 17 vendors showcase their food, craftsmanship. Many of the featured vendors have just started their businesses and this was their debut into the community. As a result, vendors received revenue that day that will allow them to keep investing in their businesses!

Thank you all for your support! Happy New Year!!!

The health and success of El Centro de la Raza begins with you. Support from a broad base of community members including foundations, individuals, and corporations is critical to our success and we ask that you carefully consider making a personally meaningful gift – it may be the largest gift you have ever made.

Cuentos From Our Programs and Community: November 2021

The Workforce Development Program at El Centro de la Raza provides extensive outreach, education referrals, and registration assistance for relevant pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs to participants to obtain permanent employment in maritime, construction trades, and/or green career industries. This project focuses on Latinos, immigrants, and limited English proficient speakers with low incomes. To date this year, ECDLR has helped over 40 individuals looking for a path to success through numerous programs such as Youth Maritime Accelerator Program: a collaboration with the Port of Seattle, Goodwill, Seattle Public Schools, and others;  ANEW; and numerous other programs whose aim is to help participants locate and obtain permanent employment in maritime, construction trades, or green career industries

One such program as the Pre-Apprenticeship Training program (PACT), at Seattle Colleges at the Wood Technology Center, where Jose Berceno, a young Latino looking to improve and find a stable career, had a desire to learn and participate in the construction industry. While looking for opportunities to gain work experience and develop new skills, Jose was connected to PACT. After attending their information session on how to apply, Jose was accepted into the pre-apprenticeship program and is currently attending classes.  The Outreach, Placement & Retention Coordinator who works closely with the students mentioned in a follow-up that Jose is doing well and thriving in the program.  Jose will be graduating in December and will be applying to various companies in their job fair that they offer to all graduates.

The health and success of El Centro de la Raza begins with you. Support from a broad base of community members including foundations, individuals, and corporations is critical to our success and we ask that you carefully consider making a personally meaningful gift – it may be the largest gift you have ever made.

Cuentos From Our Programs and Community: October 2021

ECDLR’s own Antojitos Lita Rosita gets a mention in the South Seattle Emerald!

“Rosa Juarez always had the dream of opening Antojitos Lita Rosita but was never quite sure how to start it. She learned about the Food Incubator Program run by El Centro de la Raza and knew it was the perfect opportunity for her. She has been serving food from Plaza Roberto Maestas since April 2019 and living her dream. ” by Jax Kiel at the South Seattle Emerald.

“I noticed this embroidered piece of cloth stapled to the phone pole on the corner across from El Centro de la Raza, on 16th Avenue S. and Bayview Street. It’s not just the message that is so sweet, it is the fact that someone took the time to stitch and present it.”
– Steve Wells, Development

Have a business idea, but aren’t sure what to do next?

Marcos Arellano of Shark Bite Ceviche

El Centro de la Raza’s Small Business Development Program provides small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs with workshops, business development advice, credit counseling, and access to a variety of resources all aiming to foster long-term financial stability and independence. Your donations ensure that we can continue to provide such valuable services.

We can’t do the things we do without your help.

The health and success of El Centro de la Raza begins with you. Support from a broad base of community members including foundations, individuals, and corporations is critical to our success and we ask that you carefully consider making a personally meaningful gift – it may be the largest gift you have ever made.