STAFF CORNER: APRIL 2024

Meet Flor, our dedicated staff member at El Centro de la Raza! With 30 years of experience serving the Latino community, Flor brings passion and expertise to her role. Outside of work, she enjoys traveling and exploring new countries.

Here, Flor is pictured celebrating a birthday with one of our beloved seniors from the Senior Hub Program at El Centro de la Raza. Join us in celebrating Flor’s commitment to making a difference! It’s moments like these that showcase Flor’s unwavering commitment to fostering a sense of belonging and camaraderie within the community.

As we celebrate Flor’s remarkable journey and unwavering dedication, let’s take a moment to honor her profound impact. Her passion, expertise, and compassionate spirit serve as guiding lights, illuminating pathways toward a brighter, more inclusive future for all. Join us in applauding Flor for her extraordinary contributions and her relentless pursuit of making a difference, one heartfelt gesture at a time.

Flor, with her keen eye and compassionate spirit, has been instrumental in capturing the special moments at our Senior Hub. Her photographs not only freeze moments in time but also capture the essence of joy, companionship, and resilience that define our beloved seniors’ experiences.

Thank you, Flor, for your dedication to preserving the memories and stories of our community. Your photographs not only bring smiles to our faces but also serve as a testament to the vibrant tapestry of life within our Senior Hub.

Thank you for being a part of this journey, and for your unwavering support of El Centro de la Raza.

With heartfelt appreciation,

El Centro de la Raza

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.

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!

Staff corner: October 2023

In the true spirit of community, El Centro de la Raza has opened its doors and welcomed several dedicated volunteer groups into our fold over the past few months. These volunteers, hailing from various backgrounds and walks of life, have become the lifeblood of our organization, each playing a crucial and irreplaceable role in advancing our mission.

We find ourselves profoundly grateful for the incredible synergy that has emerged from the collaboration between our dedicated staff and these remarkable volunteers. Their unwavering commitment and tireless efforts have been nothing short of inspiring. Together, they have woven a tapestry of impact that reaches far and wide, touching the lives of individuals and families within our community.

(Starbuck’ Latinx Partner Network, Hora de Café make paper flowers decorations for our ‘Building the Beloved Community Gala’.)

Our volunteers are not mere helpers; they are the embodiment of our shared values and aspirations. Through their selfless contributions, they have enabled us to expand our reach, offer essential services, and strengthen the bonds that tie our community together. Their work is a testament to the belief that real change happens when we unite and work together with a common purpose.

(Emerging Leaders 365 | United Way of King County reached out to over a hundred past attendees, paving the way for our upcoming ‘Building the Beloved Community Gala’.)

Thank you for being a part of this journey, and for your unwavering support of El Centro de la Raza.

With heartfelt appreciation,

El Centro de la Raza

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!

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.