Supporting local organizations that engage and amplify latino community voices

A diverse range of organizations in Washington state work every day to engage Latino communities and amplify their voices. We partner with many of these organizations through our education work in Washington state, because we believe a great education is essential to turning young people’s potential into success – and Latino students still face too many barriers as they pursue their education and career goals.

In recognition of the important roles these local nonprofits play, our Community Engagement team – which provides responsive grants to address pressing community needs – made general operating support grants in the last year to three organizations serving Latino communities. These grants provide unrestricted dollars that allow them to expand their programs in whatever way they believe will benefit the people and communities they serve.

For Hispanic Heritage Month, we caught up with these organizations to learn more about the work they lead year-round.

Casa Latina

What is your organization’s mission?

Casa Latina’s mission is to advance the power and well-being of Latino immigrants through employment, education, and community organizing. We envision a future in which the Latino community participates fully in the economy and democracy of this country. Our key programs include the Day Worker Center, a hiring hall providing job opportunities to our membership of 500 day laborers and domestic workers; job access and support to individuals experiencing homelessness; a worker rights program that supports individuals in recovering unpaid wages; a women’s leadership development program, Women Without Borders; ESL classes; and worker’s rights workshops.

What 1-2 issues are you focused on this year?

This year our organization implemented a new shared leadership model with Co-Executive Directors. This represents an important shift toward community-led decision-making that centered the voices of the worker community we serve to inform this key leadership transition. We will focus on supporting our overall organizational health and expanding our commitment to advance economic opportunities of all Latinx immigrant workers.

We have expanded our employment and worker rights services to South King County. This new location in Federal Way brings much needed job access to South King County, expanding our reach to workers. These supports address the multiple barriers members face in securing stable, paid work in an economic system that is often most exploitative to immigrants. In addition, we have piloted education programs that incorporate opportunities to provide warm meals made from within the community while addressing food and housing insecurity that is experienced by some in the population we serve.

We are also forging ahead advocating for policies that protect and honor the rights of immigrant workers in ways that benefit our broader community. In July 2018, the city of Seattle enacted the Domestic Workers Ordinance to rectify the historic exclusion of the city’s nannies, house cleaners, homecare workers and gardeners. The passage of this law was the first step in creating real change for domestic workers in Seattle by creating minimum wage protection, ensuring rest breaks, meal breaks and, for live-in workers, a day of rest. The law also ensures workers can retain their original documents. While there are several states that have passed similar laws, Seattle’s is the strongest, in part because it includes the creation of a Standards Board composed of domestic workers and employers that will propose additional policies to continue raising standards for domestic workers. Since the Standards Board was created, we have been working on two key campaigns – portable PTO in the City of Seattle and the expansion of workers compensation at the state level. While both have made important progress, it can take several years for the writing and passing of new policies, particularly with implementation plans that center the experiences of those most impacted. While our members and the broader Latino immigrant worker community continue to lack basic rights and protections in the workplace, we will continue to invest in our capacity and organizing strategies to move this work forward.

We are posting this Q&A during Hispanic Heritage Month. What does this month represent to you?

casa latina
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation staff work alongside Casa Latina staff during the United Way Day of Caring on September 19, 2014.

At Casa Latina, we value the richness of our diverse cultures, languages, and intersecting identities that transgress borders. This month we know that many in our community may feel valued and seen as others embrace awareness, learning, and celebrations of our varied traditions with us.

How can people support your work?

We are unique in that we are both a leader in human service provision, providing culturally and linguistically relevant programming for the Latinx community, as well as a movement leader, advocating for the rights of Latinx workers in the city, county, state, and country. We invite you to support our work in any of the following ways:

  • Hire a worker! You may connect with a member directly through our employment programs. They do many services including gardening, moving, landscaping, painting, and domestic cleaning. Our members participate in our workforce development trainings.
  • Volunteer with us! We are always seeking volunteers.
  • Donate! We welcome all amounts and appreciate your continued support.

Latino Community Fund of Washington

What is your organization’s mission?

Our vision is a vibrant and civically engaged Latino community in Washington. Latino Community Fund of Washington identifies, shares and advocates for what is working in the Latino community. Healthy and educated Latino families build vibrant local communities and economies in Washington state.

En Español: Nuestra visión es una comunidad latina vibrante y cívicamente comprometida en Washington. Latino Community Fund de Washington identifica, comparte y aboga por lo que está funcionando en la comunidad latina. Las familias latinas saludables y educadas construyen comunidades y economías locales vibrantes en el estado de Washington.

What 1-2 issues are you focused on this year?

Two big issues for us this year have been building the leadership of Latinx youth and bringing our community voices for environmental justice – which we have been working on through our Alianza Youth Leadership Program and Environmental Justice Education.

We are posting this Q&A during Hispanic Heritage Month. What does this month represent to you?

Hispanic Heritage Month represents the recognition of everything that our community is. Our community is power, resilience, sacrifice, love, harmony, history, empowerment, hard work, heart, humility, culture, etc. But at the same time is a call, a call of encouragement to all of our community members, partners, donors, and allies to continue believing, supporting and investing in us. To continue bringing and opening the access to resources, jobs, education, health for our community members that under invested and have been forgotten for so long.

How can people support your work?

People can support LCF by:

Villa Comunitaria

What is your organization’s mission?

Villa Comunitaria’s mission is “Cultivating leaders to create a stronger community. We envision a future where ALL families can participate and thrive.”

Villa Comunitaria primarily serves the Latinx populations in South Seattle and South King County, however, we recognize that the experiences across marginalized and disenfranchised communities of color intersect and are often similar; therefore, we welcome all immigrant and refugee communities in need of support navigating the complexities of US institutions.

Our organization provides eight key programs composed of the following: 1. Systems Navigation & Human Services 2. Healthy Community 3. Adult Leadership & Skill Development 4. Economic Development & Financial Literacy 5. Citizenship, Vote, and Civic Engagement 6. Early Learning Co-Operative 7. Salsa de la Vida Co-Operative 8. Outreach & Community Engagement. These programs provide critical space for community members to get information, connections, trainings, workshops, services and courses in each area that cover and support Latinx specific issues.

villa comunitaria
Photo courtesy of Villa Comunitaria

What 1-2 issues are you focused on this year?

One of the main issues that we have been focused on this year is the return to normalcy for our communities after the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic exposed the lack of security and safety nets that many members in our community face; whether it be economic stability, access to housing, healthcare, immigration and more – this impact was enormous. Our focus has been getting our community back to in-person events and activities, tripling our outreach and engagement efforts, as well as connecting them to internal/external financial resources for support.

As we continue reaching more and more people and their communities, we have faced an increased demand for space requirements and therefore, have been pursuing property or building acquisitions to house our staff and programming. This is part of our three-year strategic plan that came to fruition after the efforts of our administration, board and community stakeholders.

villa comunitaria 2
Photo courtesy of Villa Comunitaria

We are posting this Q&A during Hispanic Heritage Month. What does this month represent to you?

During Hispanic Heritage Month, Villa Comunitaria celebrates the culture, diversity and history of our communities and staff’s ancestors that came before us. This month, Villa Comunitaria honored October 10, Indigenous People’s Day, to celebrate and lift the voices and stories of indigenous people, of our current and homelands; whose histories have been eradicated and voices stolen. We take this time to reflect on the strides made as a collective but also recognize that our communities continue to suffer and lack the critical support necessary for their success. This month is a time to celebrate and uplift our stories, open our hearts to hear one another and build community – rejoice and recognize the beauty and strength we all share.

How can people support your work?

People can support our work through following our social media – FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn – and engage with our content, share our stories and learn more about our impact in the community. People can also support our programs through direct donations found at All donations can be reported using our EIN #: 83 – 3561540.

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Washington state leaders reflect on Hispanic Heritage Month

For this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month, we caught up with a couple of these leaders to learn about the issues facing Washington’s Latino community, their connections to this month, and their own inspirations.