National Council of La Raza
NCRP: What are the major issues in the Latino community right now and how is the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) tackling them?
NCLR: As the largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the country, NCLR aims to improve conditions for Hispanics in the United States. To serve that broad mission, NCLR works on both policies and programs that directly serve the Latino community in the follow areas: health, education, workforce development, housing, wealth building and civic engagement.
NCRP: Civil rights and advocacy for the Latino community has been at the center of your organization since its existence. How have your efforts in civic engagement and community organizing positively impacted the Latino population?
NCLR: On April 19, NCLR launched its South Florida Mobilize to Vote (M2V) campaign, an effort aimed at registering Hispanics in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties for the upcoming 2012 elections. Florida is likely once again to play a decisive role in the national elections, and the much sought-after Latino vote will no doubt heavily influence those results. The cornerstone of the M2V campaign is bridging the gap for Hispanics who are eligible but have not yet registered to vote.
Mobilize to Vote includes on-the-ground programs in Florida, Colorado, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Texas, California and North Carolina. Voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts will include direct contact with potential registrants and voters through canvassing, service providers and community organizations, and digital platforms.
In addition, M2V will engage in voter education, providing important information to Latinos on the issues that affect the community most, and in voter mobilization—turning Latinos out on Election Day. NCLR plans to register and turn out more than 160,000 voters across the country.
NCRP: How have NCLR’s affiliate networks strengthened your mission?
NCLR: Active and productive relationships with community-based affiliate organizations are at the heart of NCLR’s work and key to its ability to fulfill its mission. NCLR’s Affiliate Network has grown to nearly 300 community-based organizations that collectively reach millions of Hispanic Americans. The organizations’ services are diverse and include charter schools, after-school programs, job readiness and training, English-language preparation, homeownership counseling, health centers and community activities centers, to name a few.
On a day-to-day basis, these organizations deal with the practical concerns and the policy issues affecting their constituencies and develop and implement innovative solutions to the problems they face.
By providing capacity-building assistance, policy analysis, advocacy and special initiatives that complement the work of our affiliates, NCLR is able to work “on the front lines” to improve life opportunities for Hispanic Americans throughout the country. In 2008, NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía set a goal to raise $15 million as part of a Campaign for Stronger American Communities to strengthen the organization’s work with its affiliates and provide them with greater resources at the local level. NCLR expects to reach this $15 million goal by July 2012.
NCRP: What values/characteristics does the NCLR hope to see in the political, corporate and philanthropic leaders of today?
NCLR: NCLR was disappointed by the statistics on foundation giving to Latino-serving institutions highlighted by Hispanics in Philanthropy and the Foundation Center, which showed that despite the rapid growth of our community, giving stands at just 1%. We hope that political, corporate and philanthropic leaders will begin to awaken to the importance of the Latino community. Our country is stronger when Latinos are better educated, healthier and have access to jobs. Considering the current state of giving to Hispanic-serving organizations, it is absolutely critical that foundation leaders understand the role that race continues to play in determining life opportunities in America.