News

Reflection on the 2018 Midterm Election

The days, weeks, months, and years leading up to Tuesday’s midterm elections were emotionally and psychologically taxing. After two years of the Trump Administration at work, election results affirm that we helped restore the balance of power. We have brighter days ahead. The last time Democrats flipped the House was in 2006. Many talk about the “blue wave,” but I believe we witnessed a rainbow wave starting with voters who live in the suburbs.

We saw them turn out to vote. With our votes, we made history by electing Native Americans, Muslims, Latinas, and an openly LGBT person to public office. Also, women now hold more than half of the House seats. Women candidates and women voters helped propel the so-called wave. More than half of the House seats are now held by women. Minorities are here to stay. This election does not stop Trump from winning reelection in 2020. This election was not the beginning of the end; rather, the end of the beginning. Let our continued resistance light the way for fairness, justice, and compassion.

Marí Rico Receives 2018 Elevate Opportunity Award

School’s Out Washington recognized our very own, Marí Rico, as one of their 2018 Elevate Opportunity champions. This award recognizes leaders for advancing access to quality expanded learning opportunity for young people across Washington State. Marí coordinates the After-School Program at José Martí Child Development Center, where she lives out her passion for working with kids. One of her biggest joys is to “be with kids in this journey and, hopefully, provide the support they need during these hard times that we live in our society.”

She owes her hard work to her daughter and El Centro de la Raza, both of which have shaped who she is today. Marí draws inspiration from her colleagues, including Hilda Magaña and Estela Ortega, because they have created a place where it helped her recapture her culture, language, and identity. In return, Marí strives to provide her youth program participants the same opportunities for my students that El Centro de la Raza did for her. Felicidades, Marí!

Business Opportunity Center Grows outside of Seattle

The Business Opportunity Center (BOC) has expanded its workshop offerings to Mukilteo and Kent, in partnership with Business Impact NW, Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises, and public libraries. Between these two locations, 82 participants are enthusiastic about growing their own businesses. Program participants, ranging between the ages of 30 and 60, undergo a seven-week training by attending one class weekly. BOC graduates are invited to these classes to share their entrepreneurial experience. By the time they graduate from the program, they will have earned certification to start their own businesses. Business interests include food, construction, residential and commercial cleaning, beauty salons, arts/crafts, clothing, and fashion. The next cohort will begin in spring 2019.

Meet Vitor

Each one of our students has unique and amazing stories. Vitor Moreira is one of them. Vitor is only 18 years old and came to the United States from Brazil when he was just 16. He risked a great deal when he went to the United States while still a minor to help create a better life for his family. He was told about our program from his immigration lawyer. He is an extremely motivated young man. In the two years that he has been in the United States, he has learned to speak both English and Spanish fluently, obtained employment, and been promoted three times. Although he does not have a great deal of work experience, during his interview with Bank of America, he was able to convince them the same, and they offered him an above entry level Relationship Banker position. The amount this young man has already accomplished in his short life is incredible, and we are confident that he is going to be hugely successful as he follows his goals to go into business banking.

Unidos in Finance Graduation

On Friday, October 19, we gathered to celebrate the graduation of Cohort #4 for the Unidos in Finance Program. In attendance were representatives from US Bank, Chase, Seattle Credit Union, and Bank of America, including HOLA, Bank of America’s employee network group. Several social service providers also attended to learn more about the program and its alumni from previous cohorts.

Executive Director Estela Ortega delivered a moving speech encouraging our students to dream big and reach high. While most of our graduates had already received job offers from Bank of America before graduation, all of them, including former students still job hunting, left graduation with multiple job offers to choose from and a big boost to their self-esteem.

Unidos in Finance, Cohort #5 already started Monday, October 22, with 12 students enrolled. We are excited to help prepare these students as they take the first step to build a career in the financial service sector and cannot wait to help them celebrate their success in obtaining employment at our next graduation on December 12.

Spaces Available in Free English Classes/Clases de Ingles Gratis

The next session for ESL classes (Levels 1-2) at El Centro de la Raza began on September 25 and goes through December 4. Classes are held in Room 310 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 PM to 7:30 PM. If you or someone you know is interested in attending, please call Veronica Gallardo at (206) 957-4605 or email vgallardo@elcentrodelaraza.org.

¡Clases de inglés empiezaron el 25 de septiembre! Las clases estarán en el salón 310 los martes y jueves de 5 PM a 7:30 PM. Si usted o alguien que conoce se quiera inscribir, llame 206-957-4605 o email vgallardo@elcentrodelaraza.org.

Meet Julie*

Julie, a Veteran, was externally referred to our Veteran Outreach Program to receive services. She was without stable housing. In response, our Veteran Outreach Specialist worked quickly to assess Julie’s immediate and intermediate needs. By the end of that single intake session, Julie was registered for an E-Benefits account, which permitted her to possess a Service Letter and use the Proof of Service card. Julia was also registered for Military Sexual Trauma counseling and later placed in the Hammond Home Shelter. She is currently seeking stable housing through the Homeless Management Information Center’s Coordinated Entry for All.

* Name has been changed to protect program participant’s identity and privacy.

Recap of LatinX Heritage Celebration Event

Last week, the King County Superior Court celebrated LatinX Heritage Month. Their inspiring program featured two students and keynote speaker Jeremy Taiwo who were recognized for embodying this year’s theme. The theme was Rising to the Challenge. It is important to acknowledge that youth can persevere in the face of struggle and challenges, and ultimately serve their communities in leadership roles. 

Cielo Martinez (left) and Gonzalo Cruz (right) were recognized at the event for succeeding in spite of obstacles and struggles out of their control.

Cielo Martinez
Cielo serves on the Board of Directors at El Centro de la Raza as a student representative. Throughout her life, she has mastered the skill of adapting to her environment. Her love for continuous learning and passion for helping others make her a compassionate Latina. In the near future, she sees herself assisting recently arrived immigrants with assimilating in the States.

Gonzalo Cruz
Gonzalo was homeless while he was in high school. He turned his housing and familial situations around by making the most of his time protesting DACA and gun reform. In high school, he was captain of the wrestling team and qualified twice for State. He is the first in his family to pass sophomore year and will be attending college to study mechanical engineering.

Keynote speaker Jeremy Taiwo of Nigerian and Colombian descent also shared his story on his way to becoming an Olympic decathlete. Jeremy was offered a track scholarship at Stanford, where he tried out for the team. However, the Stanford track coach told Jeremy that he was worth only 25% of the scholarship offer. That was when Jeremy decided to attend the University of Washington. In 2016, Jeremy competed in the Olympics where he placed 11th in the Decathlon. At last week’s Latino Heritage Celebration event, Jeremy closed with this inspirational, “The only person that sets limits is yourself. Don’t let others dictate your limits.”

Get your Start in the Banking Sector

Unidos in Finance has partnered with the Bank of America through United US; they are eager to hire applicants to start a career with infinite opportunities for professional development and growth. At this time, we are recruiting qualified candidates for our next cohort to obtain a job or career in the financial service sector. Banks are especially eager to hire bilingual folks, and we are excited to create a pipeline of emerging bank personnel from El Centro de la Raza directly into jobs within the finance sector.

Applicants must have a high level of English fluency (bilingual in any language is a plus), be 18 years or older, possess a high school diploma or GED, six months of customer service experience, be authorized to work in the United States, and hold a record without any adult criminal activity. The cohort’s term starts on January 14 through March 6. Cohort members meet weekly on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays from 9 AM to 12 PM. For more information, please contact Cecilia Acosta at 209-957-4624 or cacosta@elcentrodelraza.org.

To submit a request for more information, please click here.

Estamos reclutando candidatos para participar en nuestro programa Unidos en Finanzas! El objetivo de nuestro programa es capacitar a personas que desean obtener un trabajo como cajero(a) de banco y desarrollar una carrera en el sector financiero. Los bancos están ansiosos por contratar personas bilingües!

El curso de 8 semanas incluye entrenamiento en habilidades de preparación para el trabajo, finanzas personales, servicio al cliente y la capacitación para convertirse en cajero(a) de banco. Nos hemos asociando con el Banco de America por Unidos US; ellos están ansiosos por contratar a candidatos bilingues para empezar una carrera con infinitas oportunidades de desarrollo professional y crecimiento.

Los requisitos para participar son: hablar inglés, tener 18 años o más, haver obtenido el diploma de secundaria /GED, 6 meses de experiencia en servicio al cliente, tener autorización para trabajar en los Estados Unidos y no tener antecedentes penales. El próximo curso empieza el 14 de enero y termina el 6 de marzo. Para obtener más información, comuniquese con Cecilia Acosta (206) 957-4624 o cacosta@elcentrodelaraza.org.

Legal residents now under attack in face of Trump Administration

First, the Trump Administration went after undocumented communities by implementing the practice of forced family separation. Now, the Administration is going after legal immigrants. Earlier this year, there was a trickle of speculation about the Trump Administration penalizing legal residents from using government benefits. The DHS Secretary confirmed this week that the Trump Administration is expanding the concept of a public charge by adding more inadmissibility determinations.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services defines a “public charge” as an individual who is likely to become ‘primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense. Multiple factors, including financial resources, health, education, skills, family status, and age, are taken into account to determine whether an individual is considered a public charge.

Earlier this week, the Trump Administration revealed its proposal to expand the definition of a public charge. The proposal applies to anyone seeking to come to the US on various visas, as well as those who already live in the U.S. who are trying to become permanent legal residents or renewing their status. Consequently, many scenarios could happen. Immigrants who pay taxes and are considered legal residents may not be able to obtain a visa for their family member, ineligible to receive a green card for themselves, or face entry barriers if they try to enter the U.S.

The other consequences are equally as grave. Immigrants are already wary about enrolling for health care benefits for fear of deportation or denial of a visa extension or green card. Therefore, this rule could result in residents who qualify for benefits to withdraw from welfare programs. Over time, we could expect to see an increased prevalence of obesity and malnutrition, a delay in seeking medical care until the last resort (the emergency room), lower vaccination rates leading to more diseases, and higher levels of poverty and uncertain housing.

Again, this rule is still a proposal. However, you can take action by submitting your comment after the Federal Register publishes the draft regulation. We will notify you when the comment period opens so that you can express your opposition to this proposal.