CASA at Monseñor Oscar Romero Charter School

 By Jennifer Archer, CASA Instructor, Monseñor Oscar Romero Charter School

The Monseñor Oscar Romero Charter School (MORCS) family kicked off our work with CASA with a trip to the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition (GWHFC). Students in the Youth Advisory Board were discussing the lack of services for homeless people in Los Angeles, and wanted to see what they could do to help.


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Life as a Líderes Summit Staff Member

By David Castillo, Communications Department, NCLR


Former Lideres Summit staffer Emily Gonzalez says serving on the Summit staff helped solidify her plans to pursue a career in service.

Sometimes we don’t know what to do with our future until an opportunity comes along that opens our eyes and reveals our talent and passion. That’s how Emily Gonzalez got involved in service work. During her time as an NCLR Líderes Summit staffer last year in Los Angeles, Emily was able to hone her skills as a leader. The New York City native now plans to make service part of her future career.

The first in her family to go to college, Emily graduated from Brown University in 2013. She studied education with an emphasis on human development. While she enjoyed her field, upon completing the program Emily realized that teaching wasn’t what she wanted to do after all.

“I kind of fell into service. It was always something I did in high school and middle school. Then it continued in college,” said Gonzalez. “I figured it would be a great opportunity for me to be a part of a national organization [NCLR] and work with students advising them.”

As a summer intern with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute in 2011, Emily attended the NCLR Annual Conference. There she discovered the Líderes Summit, and she loved the experience. The summer after graduating from Brown, still not quite sure what she wanted to do, Emily applied to be a member of the Líderes Summit staff.

Emily served on the events committee, where she sought to use the planning skills learned there in her work as a college advisor in AmeriCorps VISTA. It was a fine selection, but starting out proved challenging. Production schedules, speaker intros, and some of the event planning are done on-site by the Summit staff just one week before the Summit begins. More than half of the team during Emily’s term were new, so there was a learning curve.

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“The theme last year [Think. Create. Aspire.] really resonated with my experience because we were thrown in right off the bat the first day we had training,” said Gonzalez. “At first I felt bit out of my comfort zone, but that was great because everyone was so supportive as a community.”

Despite the long hours and late nights, Emily says it was a truly worthwhile experience that continues to affect her work as an advisor at College Visions in Providence, Rhode Island. She also made some strong friendships in the process.

“Seeing how quickly we built relationships with each other helped me see how much good change could happen very quickly. I definitely try to pull that into the work I do,” said Gonzalez. “Whatever it is I’m doing with my students, I try to stay positive and see where I can build that relationship early and quickly so we can work together better.”

As for advice for incoming staff, Emily says folks should really reflect on what they’re going to bring to this experience.

“Make it your own. Even though there is somewhat of a routine to it, there’s always stuff you can do to make it new,” said Gonzalez. “If there’s someone you want to get to know, make sure you’re prepared to make that happen.”

We wish Emily the best of luck in the future, and we look forward to working with the new staff in making this year’s Líderes Summit an even greater success!

Latino Leaders Denounce Pursuit of Anti-Immigrant Agenda at 2015 National Latino Advocacy Days

More than 300 Latino leaders from throughout the country participated in the 2015 NCLR National Latino Advocacy Days (NLAD) this week. Leaders from our national Affiliate Network of community-based organizations and the youth Líderes Congreso joined together to denounce the continued pursuit of an anti-immigrant agenda and attacks on President Obama’s recent executive actions on immigration.

Communities in 24 states and the District of Columbia were represented including California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. They engaged in sessions on public policy, advocacy and strategy to prepare for the implementation of administrative relief through Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Many advocates also met with congressional offices to deliver a statement urging Congress to cease the obstruction of measures aimed at providing relief for millions of hardworking American families.

We also asked NLAD attendees to tell us why they voted. Here’s what they told us: (Click play to view slide show)

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 Below are more social media highlights from this annual event.

Hanging in the Balance: The Ramirez Family

Hanging in the balance-01 Vicky Ramirez is a recent college graduate and a member of NCLR’s Líderes Youth Advisory Council. She is currently putting her skills and expertise to use at an international development agency in Washington, D.C. She recently spoke about what it would mean to her family if President Obama used executive authority to provide administrative relief on immigration.

Vicky’s part of a mixed-status family: different family members have different immigration statuses. Her parents were able to become legal permanent residents when their application was approved 10 years after her father applied. She has a younger sister who was born in the U.S. and is a citizen. Because of bureaucratic backlogs and delays, her older sisters were not able to become permanent residents and now have different statuses. Two of her sisters are twins; one has applied and received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, while the other has not. Her eldest sister is among the 4.5 million undocumented parents of U.S.-citizen children.

MENENDEZ-QUOTEWhen asked what it would mean if President Obama were to do everything within his authority to fix the nation’s immigration policies, Vicky said “it would be transformative.” She described the many challenges that families like hers face and the ways that they could continue contributing to the country if they were able to apply for administrative relief. Her siblings could make even bigger contributions if they were able to apply for work permits.

The more expansive the president is in his actions, the greater the economic benefit to families and to the country. According to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, establishing a deferred action policy allowing aspiring Americans to receive a work permit would result in a significant increase in revenue for the country. In the first year alone, aspiring Americans who have lived in the U.S. for at least five years, as Vicky’s sisters have, would increase payroll tax revenue by $6.08 billion and would increase revenue by $44.96 billion over five years.

For Vicky’s family and for millions of families like hers across the country, we urge President Obama to provide relief that allows millions of families to continue to live and work in the United States.

NCLR Celebrates American Education Week

By Peggy McLeod, Deputy Vice President, Education and Workforce Development, NCLR

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAmerican Education Week puts a spotlight on the role of educators and families—two groups who are essential in helping our nation’s children gain vital skills for future success.  The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Education Team thought this would be a great time to give you an overview of our work in this field.

I started as NCLR’s Deputy Vice President of Education and Workforce Development in August 2013, and I have the privilege of working with a fantastic team.  While the scope of our work is broad, it is focused completely on improving the education of Latinos from preschool to graduate school and beyond.  Continue reading

Not Only DREAMers, but Doers


Photo: Jobs with Justice

On May 28, 2013, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman invited the Omaha South High School boys soccer team to a lunch in honor of their recent state championship.  The team decided to use this opportunity to deliver a letter expressing their disappointment in the governor’s decision to not issue driver’s licenses to young undocumented immigrants who have received a temporary reprieve from deportation through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. The governor’s decision also prompted the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) to file suit against the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles.

Even though the team indicated in the letter that they were honored by the governor’s invitation, some people are still calling their move brash when they should be calling it brave.  How often do regular people get a chance to have a face-to-face meeting with their elected official to discuss important community issues? Very rarely.  Even if immigration was not part of the lunch agenda, the boys soccer team had every right to use the event to bring awareness to this issue.  In fact, one could argue that it was their responsibility to inform the governor about how his decision affected his constituents.  After all, isn’t that what democracy is all about?

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