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.

Cuentos From Our Programs and Community: September 2021

Sol, Sonrisas y Aventuras! Youth Scholars venture into Summer Hybrid Learning Programs at El Centro De La Raza

Summer Learning Program — Seattle and Federal Way: 6th – 8th-grade scholars enjoyed a field trip to the great outdoors!

With the glorious Pacific Northwest summer as our backdrop, the youth of the Summer Learning program were eager to venture on field trip excursions. Mask in hand and social distance guidelines in place, youth participated in four field trips carefully selected to give youth exposure to spaces they might not otherwise frequent.  Two of the most memorable field trips were a hiking excursion to Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, and a self-lead scavenger hunt tour of the University of Washington. “Just being out of the house is nice, and hanging out with friends make these the best field trips ever!” shared youth scholar, Jayson.

In order to be eligible for field trips, the youth had to attend 80% of virtual sessions held via Zoom during the week. #Earned! Centered on skill-building, youth attended three daily classes focus on math, language arts, and cultural enrichment. Though cameras reminded off, having in-person opportunity to meet created the comfort and open space for continuous participation. We look forward to transitioning scholars to the after-school program starting September 2021.

If you are interested in signing up your scholar, please contact our Youth Programs Manager, Liz Huizar M.A. at lhuizar@elcentrodelaraza.org.


A challenge to make ceviche for roommates inspired this Oaxacan immigrant to start his own Seattle business

The Business Opportunity Center of El Centro de la Raza would like to congratulate Marcos Arellano, owner of Shark Bite Ceviches and participant of our Food Incubator Program. We celebrate his hard work and his recognition in the Seattle Times! For more information about the Food Incubator Program, please contact Ivette Aguilera: iaguilera@elcentrodelaraza.org or at (206) 883-1981.

Marcos Arellano, a vendor who started selling ceviche five years ago, stands near the cart where he sells his ceviches at the outdoor plaza located at El Centro de La Raza, 1660 S. Roberto Maestas Festival St. in Seattle Monday-Friday, 12 p.m – 7 p.m. (Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

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.

Mil gracias Mick for all your hard work and the flowers!

“A garden should make you feel you’ve entered privileged space — a place not just set apart but reverberant — and it seems to me that, to achieve this, the gardener must put some kind of twist on the existing landscape, turn its prose into something nearer poetry.”

Michael Pollan

We are sad to say goodbye to Mick Duggan our Master Gardner, who is retiring after 15 years from his amazing work in the Cesar Chavez Demonstration Garden! Mick has toiled and tilled as our our volunteer Master Gardener since 2006! We have learned so much and will miss you! Best of luck in all your future endeavors, and may all your gardens grow!

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: bocintern@elcentrodelaraza.org.


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 Jeanett@manu-group.com 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.

Please click here to make a donation to support the wonderful work we do to change the lives of children, youth, and families in the community.

Cuentos From Our Programs and Community: July


9 of 10 scholars will be entering high school this fall. All received a serape sash, with their high school graduation class, symbolic of the support El Centro de La Raza will provide these scholars.

Plaza Roberto Maestas After School Program & Federal Way Totem After School Program, 8th Grade Promotions!

Since the beginning of 2021, families of the Totem After School Program and Plaza Roberto Maestas After School Program have been participating in the ‘Padres Preparados’ workshops series. The workshops provide an opportunity for interaction among different households to create a support system while navigating the middle school years. Understanding that the success of our students is reliant on intergenerational support, the workshop models also build family members’ skillsets such as joining Zoom meetings and understanding the cultural capital they instill in their youth. Workshops are offered twice a month, with the second workshop, titled “Si Se Puede: Roadmap to College” offers caregivers a deep exploration of the pathway towards college. At the end of the series, participants will earn a certificate of completion for their dedication.


The Workforce Program and the Youth Maritime Accelerator Program

Isabella*, who is of Purépecha descent, has always been interested in the history of maritime. Working on boats has always piqued her interest. Through El Centro de la Raza’s Workforce program, Isabella is part of the Youth Maritime Accelerator Program, which the Youth Maritime Collaborative offers. Isabella, whose parents emigrated to the US from Mexico, says the program has given her opportunities to go outdoors and have hands-on learning within the maritime industry while understanding the professional side of maritime and giving her the chance to improve her technical and marketing skills. She wants to be a role model for other girls and women in her community. Isabella hopes to encourage them to pursue higher education or find opportunities that they may think are unavailable. She plans to go off to college herself to pursue a degree in architecture this fall. Isabella is very appreciative of the opportunity to participate in the Youth Maritime Accelerator Program and hopes that these opportunities continue to be available to youth in our community. She believes El Centro does everything possible to ensure that all people can fully participate regardless of language limitations.

*Name has been changed for privacy


Our System Navigators Supports Family Through the Record-breaking Heat

Janice* and her family of 6 live in the Renton area, they were without AC or a fan during the hottest day on record, Monday, July 28th, 2021. Through El Centro de la Raza and our System Navigators, we were able to provide them a $200 Visa Card to cover basic necessities and buy a fan. Our navigators continue in contact with the family to provide them guidance on various programs and assist with meeting their basic necessities.

*Name has been changed for privacy



The future is Latina! Two Federal Way Open Door graduates with their regalia proudly representing their familias & connection to El Centro De La Raza.

High School Scholars & Their Diplomas!

Despite this past year being full of challenges, our scholars at Truman Campus stayed focused on their goals towards graduation. We saw tremendous growth in our scholars as they navigated through this school year; their hard work and perseverance paid off. It was an honor for our team to support scholars along this journey and help prepare graduates for a successful new chapter as they transition into higher education. Congratulations to the class of 2021. We hope success will keep following you in everything that you do!


Youth Job Readiness Training

Finding a job can be a challenge for youth. They must determine what careers are available, their interests, and their skills or 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 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 training course. In addition to technical courses, the program teaches students networking and 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 to that, 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 with the Consulate of Guatemala and a different one with El Centro de la Raza. Thanks to these internships, some organizations are providing them stipends for its completion and school credits.


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, the program will support the community. We will continue to have more success stories that show the importance of this program and the help to our beloved community.


A Message of Success from our Youth Marijuana Prevention and Education Program

Hello everyone, this is Ileana with Youth Marijuana Prevention and Education Program, also known as; (YMPEP) for El Centro de la Raza. This is our Success story.

“Our Culture and our Familias”.

El Centro worked with a mini Grant from the KC YMPEP where we had an opportunity to work on an educational project on Marijuana/Cannabis prevention. We worked with Liz and her team Karla and Mimi and had a wonderful turnout. The young scholars are from the Totem Federal Way after School Program & Plaza Roberto Maestas after School Program students– Combined Programming.

Take a peek at one of our modules.

Description:

“Food is sacred for our familias. Recipes are often passed down from generation to generation without thought, it becomes an unspoken tradition. Just as important as the meal, is the conversations held around those meals. For many of our familias, the pandemic has created food insecurities. Many of the meals families once enjoyed have been modified to adapt to what is available within budgets or even from food secured through food banks. To help nourish our families and continue traditions, El Centro De La Raza’s middle school programs in collaboration with Marijuana/Vape Youth Prevention programming will host a week-long cooking session for scholars to learn, cook and converse with their own familias. As part of the unit, youth will first learn about the dangers of marijuana consumption and the challenges that substances have on their development. Through these first sessions, youth will gain talking points to share with their family and reinforce their own understanding. Scholars will then plan a menu for their families based on a curated option from program leaders. Through creating their menu, scholars will practice soft skills of learning steps in following a recipe and learning units of measuring. Scholars will also receive a drop off of ingredients and food staples to create the meal together at the end of the week.”

Scholars have cooked their meals, invited their families to enjoy the meal, and discussed information learned at the beginning of the week. They were very proud. Through this project: the young Scholars were able to support food insecurities, practice soft skills, and learn about marijuana and vape prevention.


Tomando Control de su Salud

Alejandro* recently completed the Tomando Control de Su Salud offered through our Senior Program. He says that the class taught him the difference between good and bad cholesterol and how to control his body. He tells us that the program has helped him change his eating habits and portion control. He thanks the program coordinator Flor for her hard work and the interesting books she provided.

*Name has been changed for privacy

Cuentos From Our Programs and Community: June

Padres Preparados’ – Parent Workshops

Since the beginning of 2021, families of the Totem After School Program and Plaza Roberto Maestas After School Program have been participating in the ‘Padres Preparados’ workshops series. The workshops provide an opportunity for interaction among different households to create a support system while navigating the middle school years. Understanding that the success of our students is reliant on intergenerational support, the workshop models also build family members skillsets such as joining Zoom meetings and understanding the cultural capital they instill in their youth. Workshops are offered twice a monthly, with the second workshop, titled “Si Se Puede: Roadmap to College” offers caregivers a deep exploration on the pathway towards college. At the end of the series, participants will earn a certificate of completion for their dedication.


El Toreo Tienda y Carniceria

Francisca Pineda, dueña de El Toreo Tienda y Carnicería, asistió una sesión informativa que facilito El Centro de la Raza sobre la beca Working Washington Ronda -4.  El 10 de mayo, ella fue aprobada por una beca empresaria de $12,000 por el Departamento de Comercio del Estado de Washington. La beca la ha ayudado a continuar su negocio.

“El Toreo Tienda y Carnicería le da las gracias a El Centro de La Raza por el favor de apoyarnos en la aplicación. El dinero fue depositado en la cuenta de la tienda y nos esta sirviendo para pagar la luz y renta.”

Francisca Pineda, the owner of El Toreo Tienda y Carniceria, assisted the information session facilitated for the Working Washington – Round 4. On May 10, she was approved for a $12,000 grant for her business from the Washington State Department of Commerce. This grant has helped her business stay afloat – as she is using the funds for business debts and operational costs.

“El Toreo Tienda y Carniceria gives thanks to El Centro de la Raza for their help with the application process. The funds were deposited in our business account and it helps us to pay for our business utilities and rent.”


Open Doors Youth Case Management Program

Our Federal Way Open Doors Youth Case Management Program has continuously addressed participants’ growing needs. With the ongoing pandemic leaving more students and families in need of assistance, staff have provided students with educational support and addressing their basic needs. This month staff focused on personal hygiene and delivered kits to 10 scholars’ homes—kits including body wash, deodorant, lip balm, socks, toothpaste, and a toothbrush. Good hygiene is an important part of student’s health, wellness, and self-esteem. Providing these basic essentials for scholars helps them start their day off right. Our goal is also to relieve the stress of having to purchase these necessary items. Scholars are already looking forward to the next supply delivery.


SEA/FW After School Programs

Each month, scholars enrolled in our two middle school after-school programs (The Plaza Roberto Maestas After School Program or the Totem Federal Way After School Program) receive a doorstep delivery with supplies, snacks, and educational material. In our last delivery, 50 scholars received snacks and material for April activities, including our Trade Camps & Model UN: Latin American Conference Project. Students love delivery day because they receive their favorite snacks, and it serves as an opportunity to connect with staff members. Each month, youth have a chance to suggest favorite snacks and create a wish list of items they would like to receive. Scholars receive a small but thoughtful gift for those with birthdays in the month. One participant could not be more excited to have received a skateboard. The text message screenshot above demonstrates her excitement and the similar excitement of our young scholars.

Cuentos From Our Programs and Community: May

Robotics Program – Bahlam Bots

The Robotics Program for middle school youth at El Centro de la Raza has been operating via remote platforms since Fall 2020. This month scholars began a unit on coding delivered through a logic challenge demonstrating how computer coding looks in the real world. Through this challenge, scholars are learning the importance of paying attention to the detail of their codes which the robots use as instructions to follow. In our most recent Logic Challenge, scholars provided instructions on cooking a pancake. Instructors then followed the youth’s direction precisely as instructed, and if there were gaps, the pancakes would not come out like regular pancakes. Visualizing these “coding errors” created frustration among scholars, but they could laugh at their mistakes. The picture above is a pancake from a student who requested 1/8 of the butter without knowing how much butter was needed. This was the closest we got to the “ideal” pancake. “


Paola*, Unidos in Finance 2021 Cohort 1: 01/27/2021-3/12/2021

Paola, 25, single, and recently immigrated from Africa to pursue different job opportunities in the US. Laurena was referred to us from another participant. Paola has maintained perfect attendance and has an eagerness to learn. She is the head baker at her current job and looking to use her education in Accounting and obtain more information on the US banking system and this is the reason she joined the program. Paola is currently working on improving her resume and taking the skills learned in the course to apply to banks and credit unions in the upcoming months.

*Name has been changed for privacy.


Open Doors Youth Case Management Program

Our Federal Way Open Doors Youth Case Management Program has continuously addressed participants’ growing needs. With the ongoing pandemic leaving more students and families in need of assistance, staff have provided students with educational support and addressing their basic needs. This month staff focused on personal hygiene and delivered kits to 10 scholars’ homes—kits including body wash, deodorant, lip balm, socks, toothpaste, and a toothbrush. Good hygiene is an important part of student’s health, wellness, and self-esteem. Providing these basic essentials for scholars helps them start their day off right. Our goal is also to relieve the stress of having to purchase these necessary items. Scholars are already looking forward to the next supply delivery.


SEA/FW After School Programs

Each month, scholars enrolled in our two middle school after-school programs (The Plaza Roberto Maestas After School Program or the Totem Federal Way After School Program) receive a doorstep delivery with supplies, snacks, and educational material. In our last delivery, 50 scholars received snacks and material for April activities, including our Trade Camps & Model UN: Latin American Conference Project. Students love delivery day because they receive their favorite snacks, and it serves as an opportunity to connect with staff members. Each month, youth have a chance to suggest favorite snacks and create a wish list of items they would like to receive. Scholars receive a small but thoughtful gift for those with birthdays in the month. One participant could not be more excited to have received a skateboard. The text message screenshot above demonstrates her excitement and the similar excitement of our young scholars.

Cuentos From Our Programs and Community: April

Marisa*, 77, is one of our senior lunch program’s longest-standing participants. She has been joining us for lunch since 2004 or 2005 since she met Raquel, one of our program coordinators. Marisa has also supported the community by volunteering with our food bank and with other senior programs. She says the program has helped her with many parts of her life and she has met many people over the years, being part of this community. Marisa is a great example for our community and a wonderful member of it. We appreciate her support, her presence, and the love she brings with her.

*Name has been changed for privacy


Latino Legislative Day 2021

On March 17, 8 middle school youth from the Totem After School Program attended Latino Legislative Day Leadership workshops. To their surprise, the workshops were completely led by high school youth. Among the topics discussed were discussions around anti–Blackness in Latinx communities, mental health, and environmental justice. As youth left the workshop, they shared with the facilitators, “I learned A LOT today, I’m glad I was here”. During reflections the next day in the after school program, youth wanted to know how they could get to that level, “How do I facilitate a workshop like them when I grow up?” youth were reassured, they are already capable and on track to lead their own workshops. During the cultural enrichment segment, the lessons offered are providing youth a social justice framework.


A story about El Centro de la Raza & The Plate Fund

Since March 2020 El Centro de la Raza has been partnering with the Schultz Family Foundation to distribute funding to restaurant workers impacted by the pandemic through The Plate Fund. The Plate Fund is a one-time funding source of $500 Visa gift card that can be utilized in any store to purchases necessities like food, or even for things like online payments for utility bills or rent. During the pandemic, the restaurant industry was incredibly unstable due to the constant closing and reopening of businesses due to the changing restrictions and phases. Many restaurant workers lost income due to the businesses shutting down, to severe reductions in hours, or even contracting COVID-19 forcing them to take time off work. The pandemic has shown us how difficult it is to navigate resources, however many restaurant workers also had to deal with the language barrier that they faced when they tried to find any assistance or aid.

One participant, in particular, called El Centro de la Raza and told staff that they were rejected from many other organizations and were in desperate need of support. This participant, Martin Sanchez*, is a 70-year-old man who was not able to work as a result of his age and diabetes making him at higher risk for contracting COVID-19. His daughter was also laid off from Mcdonald’s in early March and had not been able to find work since then. Both father and daughter had exhausted the last of their savings and sold their car for further income but were in dire need of financial support as they had medical expenses as well as housing and food expenses. Due to the language barrier, technology barrier, and limited ability to read or write, the family had a difficult time accessing resources for relief. Our staff at El Centro de La Raza was able to work with them to get Martin’s daughter qualified to receive a $500 Visa gift card to the Plate Fund and referred them to receive rental assistance as well.

*Name has been changed for privacy


Vaping is Not My Thing Contest

Through an interdepartmental partnership, youth from the Plaza Roberto Maestas After School and FW Totem After School Program were invited to submitted entries to the Scholastics’ “Vaping is Not My Thing” contest. To enter the contest, participants had to create an infographic poster targeted to their peers and informing them of the dangers of vaping. Two youth of the Plaza Roberto Maestas After School program were able to submit entries. Through the process, both scholars developed their stance to say no to vaping and encourage their peers to steer away from vaping dangers. We are very proud of them both! Below is one of our scholar’s entries.