Fighting Hate through Humor: NCLR Affiliate Latin American Coalition

Bananas While the Latin America Coalition, an NCLR Affiliate in Charlotte, North Carolina, is no stranger to threats and extreme xenophobic opposition, its response to a nativist Neo-Nazi/KKK rally creatively fought hate with humor.

Supporters of the Latin American Coalition and other pro-immigration organizations dressed as clowns, wore giant banana suits, and honked horns at the racist rally, easily outnumbering the KKK protesters by five to one.

Their message?  Racism is ridiculous.

For a little pick-me-up, check out this wonderful blog post by the Coalition’s Executive Director, Jess George, on how her organization deals with hate mail and the negativity they receive on a daily basis.  Sometimes you’ve just got to “Laugh to Keep from Crying.”

Laugh to Keep From Crying

By Jess George, Executive Director, Latin American Coalition (Charlotte, North Carolina)

Last Friday was an exciting day. We got two hate mail letters. Continue reading

Advertisements

Our Affiliates Are Paving the Way for Safer Communities

PromiseNeighborhood_pic
Photo: Department of Education

When it comes to education, our Affiliates make the grade. The federal government has also taken note.

Recently, the Department of Education announced the winners of the 2012 Promise Neighborhoods grants. Three of our Affiliates were among 17 organizations that received a total of $60 million in grants. At a speech on school safety in Washington, DC, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan emphasized the role that Promise Neighborhoods plays in keeping communities safe.

“Children must be safe, healthy, and supported by adults across an entire community to reach their fullest potential,” said Duncan in a press release. “Against all odds, Promise Neighborhoods work to provide families and children with the support they need to help break the cycle of poverty that threatens too many of our nation’s communities.”

The NCLR Affiliates that received the grants are Youth Policy Institute (YPI) in Los Angeles, Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) in San Francisco, and Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation in Brooklyn, New York.

Promise Neighborhoods, first launched in 2010, is a community-focused program that funds local-led efforts to improve educational opportunities and provide comprehensive health, safety, and support services in high-poverty neighborhoods. To help leverage and sustain grant work, 1,000 national, state, and community organizations have signed on to partner with a Promise Neighborhood site, including over 300 organizations supporting 2012 grant winners. The grants are part of the Obama administration’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, which is aimed at breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty through what the White House calls “innovative and inclusive strategies that bring public and private partners together.”

YPI and MEDA are both receiving implementation grants, which will help the two Affiliates build upon previous work that was funded with planning grants. Each Affiliate is set to receive $6 million.
Cypress Hills has been awarded a planning grant in the amount of $371,222.

“NCLR congratulates all three Affiliates who are exceptional models of community-based organizations,” said Sonia M. Pérez, NCLR Senior Vice President, Strategic Initiatives. “Their dedication, efforts and results exemplify the power of the NCLR Affiliate Network and the roles that these organizations play in strengthening neighborhoods across the country.”

Fewer Dreams Deferred in California Thanks to New Law

Collins_Dream_Act_Press_Conf_100920064
Photo: Office of Antonio Villaraigosa

For undocumented students in California, 2013 brings a new blessing.  As of January 1, California has started letting undocumented students access the state’s public financial aid system.

From the Riverside Press-Enterprise:  “The law covers students who attended high school in California for at least three years and graduated from a California high school.  It also benefits U.S. citizens and legal residents who attended California high schools but later moved out of state, making them previously ineligible for state financial aid.”

The projected number of students expected to apply for the grant is 20,000, less than 1% of the state’s college students.  Still, a contentious debate ensued upon the bill’s introduction in the legislature.  Relentless advocacy, however, from thousands across the state helped ensure the bill’s passage.  NCLR’s Affiliates were among that number.

TODEC Legal Services, an NCLR Affiliate, and its community programs director, Luz Gallegos, helped organize instrumental lobbying trips.  More from the Riverside Press-Enterprise:

“Luz Gallegos, community programs director for TODEC Legal Services, a Perris immigrant-assistance group, said that when immigrants obtain higher-paying jobs, they contribute more in taxes.

“Under an Obama administration policy that went into effect in August, young undocumented immigrants who meet certain requirements can obtain temporary work permits.

“In 2011, Gallegos traveled three times with a busload of other Inland residents to Sacramento to lobby for passage of the Dream Act.”

We congratulate all the dedicated activists and organizations that were instrumental in this legislative victory.  DREAMers in California are one step closer to fulfilling their potential.

We’re a Unified Voice for Communities

By Jesus Altamirano, Regional Field Coordinator, Colorado

Not much can keep our Affiliates down when they band together.

Our Colorado Affiliates know this well. Recently, NCLR Affiliates El Comite de Longmont, Scholar-to-Leader Academy, GOAL Academy, and Mi Casa Resource Center, descended on Denver to speak to U.S. Senators Mark Udall (D) and Michael Bennet (D) about the impact of the impending debt crisis, the so called “fiscal cliff.” Like NCLR, our Colorado Affiliates are concerned about the effects extreme cuts would mean to the millions of American Latino families who rely on vital social services and they expressed just that to their senators.

Kudos to our Colorado Affiliates for being champions for communities! Check out some photos of their advocacy below and then tell us what the impending fiscal cliff crisis could mean to you.

Colorado advocates in their meeting Colorado advocates outside the meeting Colorado advocates in their meeting

We’re Taking Our Concerns about the Fiscal Cliff Straight to the White House!

If you’ve been following us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or our blog, you know that we’ve been doing lots of work on the so-called “fiscal cliff” that has been bandied about in the media over the past few weeks.

At NCLR, we’re especially proud to bring you a message from one person who had a seat at the table where these talks are happening.  This past Friday, Fernando Garavito joined Vice President Joe Biden and others to talk about the impact that the fiscal cliff will have on Latino families.  Fernando, who works for NCLR Affiliate CASA de Maryland, joined the lunch as a representative of the Latino community, along with others who represented people with disabilities, students, African Americans, and more.

Check out Fernando’s short story below and let us know what falling off the fiscal cliff will mean to your family.  Share your own story here or in the comments below.

Here are a few other stories we have received from our network:

Nancy: Taxes on the extremely wealthy should be returned to the levels they were during President Clinton’s administration. People making $250,000 or less should have their taxes kept low so that we do not fall back into a recession.

Wayne: The wealthy have had it easy for years not only because they don’t have financial problems like we of the middle class, but because they have a huge surplus of money to meet emergencies unlike we of the middle class. Since they have benefited most by the growing debt, it is only fair that they now “pay their dues”!

Linda: We have a 32 yr old daughter who is bi-polar and will never be able to hold a job. Her husband took her children and dropped her on our doorstep. Because of cuts, in the state she gets no legal help, no financial aid, and no medicaid. That means she is not able to get all the medication she needs and she can’t get a lawyer to fight her husband for it. We are struggling ourselves (my husband is a disabled veteran who is still job hunting 4 months after getting a Master’s in Social Work) and all we can do is give her a place to stay and food to eat. In two months we will have to start paying back student loans even though my husband has not found work. Any cuts will just make it harder.

What If….

A critical part of closing the education gap in America is college readiness.  As part of our committment to this, and with generous support from our sponsors, we have developed the “What If? NCLR College Readiness Initiative.” The idea is simple: What if every Latino student got the support needed to succeed in college and beyond?

Currently, we are running a contest that challenges students at our charter school network to answer that question through the use of video. The video contest gives kids the chance to speak up for their generation. Below is the first entry by Angel Damian, a student at George.I. Sanchez High School, an NCLR-affiliate charter.

Watch the video and then vote!

César E. Chávez to be Memorialized with a National Monument

Today the president will unveil the César E. Chávez National Monument in Keene, Calif. The monument’s home will be at one of our esteemed Affiliates, the César E. Chávez Foundation.

Watch the unveiling live at: http://t.co/60Fz3p4e. Things get started at 11:15 PT/2:15 ET.