Check Mate! Students Learn Sportsmanship and Strategy through Chess

Last month, Latino Network launched a new partnership with the program Chess for Success! 

"Our youth LOVE Chess 4 Success!" Said Joaquin Lopez, our Arts and Culture Manager. "They're learning strategy, patience, and friendly competition, tools that will continue to develop as they grow and build character. Chess has no language barriers, once you know the steps and moves, everyone can participate is this time-honored dance of strategy and sportsmanship."

We decided to pay a visit this last week and see how the students were coming along!

Chess has no language barriers, once you know the steps and moves, everyone can participate is this time-honored dance of strategy and sportsmanship.
— Joaquin Lopez

Welcome New Board Members!

We are proud to announce three new members of Latino Network’s Board of Directors!

Patrick Quinton, Christa Stout, and Melinda Veliz were confirmed as board members in March 2017.

Patrick Quinton is the founding principal of Civic Innovation NW consulting firm. Previously, he was the Executive Director of Portland Development Commission. Under his leadership, PDC was the Presenting Sponsor for Latino Network’s annual gala, Noche Bella for several years. We are excited to have his expertise guiding us. Read his full bio here.

Christa Stout is the Vice President of Social Responsibility for the Portland Trail Blazers. Previously, she managed the Portland Timbers Community Relations Department. Latino Network is currently a community partner with the Blazers, and we look forward to continuing to deepen that partnership and work with Christa. Read her full bio here.

Melinda Veliz works in Public and Community Relations for Legacy Health-Silverton Medical Center. Melinda is a graduate of our Unidos program, Cohort II. We look forward to having her on our board! Read her full bio here.

Our Board of Directors:

C.E.W. Helps Families Grow Together

How can we better serve our families in the community with infants and toddlers? How can we serve families who are unable to make it to existing services in schools or community centers? One of Latino Network’s newest programs began with that question in 2014, posed to a group of community members and nonprofit staff. Creciendo Juntos (Spanish for Growing Together) serves families with children ages birth to three through home visits and small group parent-child development classes.

Though many early childhood programs exist, including our own Juntos Aprendemos, this program fills a gap in ensuring that families are able to receive one-on-one assistance in their own home on a regular basis, from a community member who speaks the same  language. The program focuses on very young children. 

The program trains community members as community education workers, drawing on the principles of community health workers, to be able to deliver developmentally appropriate early childhood lessons for parents and young children. They also offer 10-week series of classes for parents to attend with their infant or toddler to learn more about child development. 

This program fills a gap in ensuring that families are able to receive one-on-one assistance in their own home on a regular basis, from a community member who speaks the same  language.

In the past year, Creciendo Juntos staff have helped families facing housing instability due to rising rents, connecting them with services for rent or housing assistance. Staff screen toddlers for developmental delays, and can help parents connect with services if a child is in need of additional health or educational help. And staff listen to the concerns of the parent and help them navigate issues as they arise.

The Community Education Worker (CEW) program – Latino Network calls its program by Creciendo Juntos - was launched as a partnership among culturally specific nonprofits in Portland, in collaboration with the Community Capacitation Center. The program has been funded by the state through the Early Learning Multnomah hub. 

Currently, Latino Network, the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO), and the Urban League provide services to families in their respective communities of color. Together, our programs serve families who speak 13 different languages at home! The three most common languages spoken are English, Spanish, and Somali. 

Together, we served 175 families in 2016 with more than 1,100 home visits! Around 60% of these families report having an income of less than $25,000. 




Stay Involved: Take Action & Community Resources Feature

So far 2017 has been a year of adversity, but at Latino Network, we see this as an opportunity to come together in support, acceptance, and advocacy with and for our Latino communities, and all communities of color.

This is why we’ve created two resources pages – one for our amazing advocates and another for families who need resources and support – for our communities in Portland and the entire state of Oregon.

We hope both of these pages help families, advocates, and communities alike:

Community Resources

Our Community Resources page is dedicated to providing as many resources as we can to families and individuals with immigration or citizenship concerns. Here, you can find downloadable documents that will help you with preparing your family for an emergency, a list of immigration and family attorneys, and many links to “Know Your Rights” resources that will help you stay safe. 

All documents, links, and resources can be found in English AND Spanish. We have made every effort to ensure these documents contain accurate information.

Take Action

Our Take Action page is a resource for advocates who want to get involved in making our country safe for immigrants, refugees, and minority communities. You’ll find a comprehensive list of all of local, state and federal Oregon lawmakers, links to policy and advocacy resources, and a button to signup for our advocacy alert email list. 

Our goal is to continue to empower ALL communities in Portland by providing resources, services, and support for individuals and families who need help and advocates who want to join our cause.

We hope that these two pages will empower you, your family, and your community to make our country safe and equal for everyone!

Employee Spotlight: Thalia Garcia-Aguilar

At Latino Network, we are always trying to find new and fun ways to recognize the people who are on the ground making a difference in our community: our staff. That's why we're starting a blog series that features our employees who are doing amazing things with youth, families, and communities here in Portland.

To start, we're featuring our very own AmeriCorps Vista, Thalia Garcia-Aguilar!

Thalia became our AmeriCorps Vista and Volunteer Coordinator in August, 2016.

Thalia became our AmeriCorps Vista and Volunteer Coordinator in August, 2016.

Thalia helps coordinate all of our volunteers at Latino Network. From recruitment to training, she's the one who helps our organization connect with awesome people in the community who want to volunteer their time with our programs. 

Before she became our AmeriCorps Vista, Thalia was with Latino Network as an AmeriCorps Summer Vista, helping our School Based Programs in our Ninth Grade Counts summer program. In August 2016, she became our resident Vista and started her volunteer coordinating position with us. 

Here is what she had to say about her experience at Latino Network:

Question: What motivated you to go into AmeriCorps?

Thalia: Throughout my undergraduate schooling I meet a lot of people who told me about their experiences in AmeriCorps and it seemed really rewarding. I also remember receiving different job offers right after graduation, but none of them fit according to what I thought would be my next step in my career, so I joined AmeriCorps. Once I got involved I knew it was the right choice.

Question: What do you think about working for Latino Network?

Thalia: I ran across Latino Network during my undergraduate studies at Warner Pacific. The people I met were great and because I'm a first-generation Mexican-American, working here feels familiar. There's a lot of parallels between working at Latino Network and the family atmosphere I grew up with at home.

Question: What are you studying in school now? What would you like to do with it?

Thalia: I received my B.S. in May 2016 in Social Entrepreneurship. I originally wanted to get my MBA, but after working in the 9th Grade Counts program this past summer, I decided to pursue my Masters in Education. I don't know what my dream career is, but it definitely involves running a business in the interest of education, social justice, and diversity. I also would love to travel throughout the country and teach schools how to dismantle systems of oppression and become more inclusive and equitable environments.

It was amazing to create the connection between the student and my friend, and to help foster a passion within the student that inspired him to succeed.

Question: What's a success story that you've experienced while working at Latino Network?

Thalia: During my Summer Vista service with 9th Grade Counts, I connected one of my students who was into skateboarding with a friend of mine who was starting up a skateboarding company called Quartet. I asked him for Quartet stickers because my student liked the one on my water bottle. I told him how passionate my student was to learn how to skateboard, and how he was a great leader in the classroom. He was one of my students who can rally this peers together and often would help get his peers to be involved in activities. My friend gifted a skateboard and t-shirt to my student because of the student's initiative to lead and make a difference. 

Months later, I got to meet my former student's mother. She wanted to let me know how well her son was doing in school and how meeting my friend has motivated him to graduate high school. He's also getting better at skateboarding! It was amazing to create the connection between the student and my friend, and to help foster a passion within the student that inspired him to succeed. That's what education is all about, and that's what I plan to do in the future!

Thank you Thalia for your amazing work at Latino Network and your passion to help the community! We can't wait to see what you'll achieve in the future!

If you're interested in connecting with Thalia to volunteer with us, click the button below:

CHI Kicks Off New Girls Basketball Program

A few months ago, Antoinette Edwards from the Office of Violence Prevention called us to see if we could run a program for African-American and Latino girls focused on basketball. Too often we see black and brown young woman standing on the sidelines while the boys play basketball. We wanted to change that - and build bridges between communities. 

So, we are excited to announce a new series focused on getting young women involved in basketball! The CHI Girls Basketball program will host workshops & clinics as well as field trips to see female basketball players in action. 

Before we begin spring basketball clinics (stay tuned!), we want to give young women and girls the experience of watching games at the collegiate and professional level. We thought it would be fun this winter to take them to a few local pro and college games!

At each game, the girls will also get to meet players and hear about their stories and how they got to where they are. 

University of Portland Home Game - Our girls had a BLAST at our first event this winter! 

University of Portland Home Game - Our girls had a BLAST at our first event this winter! 

Our Winter Schedule:

  • Saturday, Feb. 4th - Home game at the University of Portland

  • Saturday, Feb 11th - Home game at Lewis & Clark

  • Thursday, Feb. 16th - Home game at Portland State

  • Thursday, March 2nd - Portland Trail Blazers Hispanic Heritage Night

If you know girls who would like to play or be part of the program, contact CHI Manager Yolanda Gonzalez.

Pan's Labyrinth - A Success!

What a successful night for Ollin: Social Justice Film Series!

Thank you to all who attended and supported this inspiring event. It was wonderful to see the movie theater almost sold out! We raised $1,600 last night, and ALL of it will go toward our advocacy efforts!

After we showed Pan's Labyrinth, Commissioner Nick Fish and Latino Board Chair Maria Elena Campisteguy led an enriching discussion about how everyone in the community can take action and fight for social justice. 

We look forward to the next two films and discussions in the series:

  • March 13th at 7:30 - Salt of the Earth (1954) - with a community discussion led by District 47 State Representative Diego Hernandez
  • April 13 at 7:30 - El Norte (1984) - with a community discussion led by Former Commissioner Serena Cruz

Check out some of the awesome moments from last night: 

(From left) Commissioner Nick Fish, Latino Network Board Chair Maria Elena Campisteguy, Latino Network Executive Director Carmen Rubio, Latino Network Arts & Culture Manager Joaquin Lopez, and Hollywood Theatre Executive Director Doug Whyte

Maria Elena Campisteguy and Nick Fish lead the discussion after Pan's Labyrinth. Topics of conversation included how we can pledge to take action, ways to stay involved in the community, and how we can work with our local government to ensure rights for everyone.

Arts & Culture Manager - and organizer of this event - Joaquin Lopez discusses how Pan's Labyrinth relates to our current political circumstances in the U.S.

Thank you to all who came!

Thank you to all who came!

Thank you to The Hollywood Theatre for hosting, and thank you to our featured discussion leaders! See you in March!


Like many middle schoolers, Juliana was not comfortable talking about sex and sexuality when she started participating in Making Proud Choices, a sexual health education program, in the fall.

Making Proud Choices is a new program of Latino Network, funded through a five-year federal grant through the Multnomah County Health Department. Like all of our programs, it provides bilingual and bicultural programming that engages youth and their parents to discuss a topic that can often be difficult for Latino families: sex. Latino Network staff have adapted the program to ensure Latino/a students see themselves and their culture reflected in the program. 

“It’s rewarding knowing that the students are able to learn in the language they prefer - English, Spanish or both,” said Vanessa LaTorre, Health and Wellness Coordinator. “It’s incredibly meaningful because it validates a person’s identity.” 

As Making Proud Choices sessions continued, Julianna started to use the anonymous question jar during group meetings. Then she started volunteering during the meetings. Throughout the program, she slowly grew  more comfortable with participating in group activities and discussions related to sex and sexual health.  

“It’s rewarding to watch them grow into the topic, meaning they often start off shy and say that they don’t need the information because they aren’t sexually active yet,” said Veronica Sunderland-Perez, Health and Wellness Manager. “Then they realize that this is information that they can share with friends and family who are sexually active, or they can save the knowledge when they do become active.”

Now, close to the end of Making Proud Choices program, Julianna is comfortable enough to participate in role play activities during meetings and take a safety kit home. She also said during a meeting that she demonstrated to her parents the proper steps for how to use a condom and make proud and responsible choices!  

“I’m so proud of her and the rest of the group,” said Wendy Lopez Schmidt, a Making Proud Choices Instructor for Latino Network. “It’s a fabulous example of what this program can do to impact families and youth when it comes to sex.”

Juliana is just one of our participants. In fact, more than 75% of youth who participate are more likely to talk with their partners about condoms, birth control, testing and other forms of protection. Students even reported that they learned how to have healthy conversations about sex with their family after participating - 63% were more comfortable discussing their sexuality with their parents after the program.

It’s makes families and the community overall healthier when parents have these conversations about sex with their kids.
— Veronica Sunderland-Perez

That’s a key component of our program - engaging parents as well, who often have a tough time opening up. Using the Opciones y Education (OYE) curriculum, parents are engaged through parent workshops, led by bilingual and bicultural staff members. 

“It’s important to respect where they’re at and find ways to talk about sex with their kids in a way that is healthy,” Veronica said. “It’s necessary to reframe the topic with their kids so that their kids feel supported - they need to know how to help their kids achieve their life goals. It’s makes families and the community overall healthier when parents have these conversations about sex with their kids.”

With the success of the first Making Proud Choices cohort, we are planning to expand the program to reach more Latino/a students in middle and high schools. They also hope to form partnerships to reach Latino students in the juvenile justice system and alternative schools. 

“I view sexual health as a basic human right,” said Veronica. “We want to continue to seek and empower youth and parents to lead healthier sexual lives.”

We would like to thank the Multnomah County Health Department for funding Making Proud Choices/ACT and E.C. Brown Foundation for funding OYE.


You're Invited: Ollin Social Justice Film Series

We’re coming together to advocate for social justice through film and discussion, and we want YOU to join us.

Ollin: Social Justice Film Series aims to unite communities, begin important discussions about social justice, and advocate for the rights of everyone - all through film and community-led discussions. 

On January 23rd at 7:30pm, we will be showing Pan’s Labyrinth at the Hollywood Theatre, and Commissioner Nick Fish will join us in responding to the film's social justice themes while commenting on policy, advocacy, and leadership in our communities. 

Get your tickets here!

Pan’s Labyrinth is one of three films that Latino Network and The Hollywood Theatre will screen throughout the winter and spring:

  • January 23rd - Pan’s Labyrinth with Commissioner Nick Fish
  • March 13 - Salt of The Earth with Elected Official Diego Hernandez
  • April 13 - El Norte with Former Elected Official Serena Cruz

In the Hollywood Theatre lobby before the film, Latino Network will have a table with opportunities to volunteer, donate and/or learn how to become involved in making a collective impact for the success of Latino youth and families. 

We look forward to seeing you there!

2016: Our Favorite Things

As 2016 ends, we wanted to reflect on some of our favorite moments from this year. 


#6 - Latino Network Ballet Folklorico Featured in the Rose Festival! 

Our youth dance group, Corazones Algres, was invited to participate in this Portland tradition. Youth rode on the float and danced along the route to the music of Edna Vazquez and her mariachis. Zumba Instructor Gisela Contreras led parents in Zumba along the way as well. 

See more of our Rose Festival photos on our Facebook!


#5 - Juntos Aprendemos Expands and is Now in 10 Schools! 

From starting in one school - Rigler Elementary - 16 years ago, Juntos Aprendemos sure has grown! As of this fall, they are serving:

  • 250 children AND their parents/caregivers
  • In 10 Schools
  • Across 4 School Districts 

Read more about Juntos Aprendemos’ impact


#4  Latino Leaders elected statewide & Measure 98 victory!

Latino Network has always been an advocacy organization and we continue to work to change policies and practices to ensure our communities are thriving.

This year, we celebrated the election of Latino & indigenous leaders statewide who will represent our communities, including a few Unid@s for Oregon graduates:

  • Jessica Vega Pederson elected as Multnomah County Commissioner
  • Melinda Veliz elected as Woodburn City Councilor, Ward I
  • Teresa Alonso Leon elected as State Representative
  • Diego Hernandez elected as State Representative
  • Tawna Sanchez elected as State Representative (and the first Native American woman to serve in the Oregon Legislature!)

We also celebrated a victory for ballot measures Measure 98 and Yes for Affordable Homes! And this month, we celebrated the victory of Open and  Accountable Elections passed by City Council to match small dollar campaign donations.

Carmen Rubio attends a Yes on 98 rally with co-petitioners Toya Fink, Oregon Stand for Children Executive Director, and former Governor Ted Kulongoski.

Carmen Rubio attends a Yes on 98 rally with co-petitioners Toya Fink, Oregon Stand for Children Executive Director, and former Governor Ted Kulongoski.

Read more about our advocacy victories here!


#3 - 100% of Escalera seniors graduate! And our school-based programs expand! 

Congratulations to every one of our high school seniors in Escalera college prep program. They all worked so hard and successfully graduated in June! Today, they are all enrolled in college or apprenticeship programs, working toward their goals. 

And with the help of Multnomah County Schools Uniting Neighborhood (SUN) Contract, we expanded our programs to serve more Latino youth & families. 

See our full list of schools here.


#2 - Latino Network Awarded Far West Regional Affiliate of the Year

Read more about the reward we received at this year's NCLR conference in Orlando!


#1 ...

We could not do our work with all of you - as volunteers, donors, advocates, champions, and more! Thank you for working with us to make our Latino communities stronger and healthier. 

United we move forward to achieve our goals in 2017.  



Happy Holidays from the Latino Network Family!

¡Felices Fiestas!

From our family to yours, we hope that you have a wonderful holiday full of love, giving, and laughter.

Latino Network has certainly been busy this holiday season trying to spread the cheer around. From our Juntos Aprendemos Posadas to our Holiday Staff Party, our family has started off the holiday season with plenty of great memories! 

Juntos Aprendemos Posada at Glenfair Elementary:

See our Facebook album for all of the photos!

Holiday Staff Party:

Some of our amazing staff members created a skit about Latino Network's mission for our staff party!



Moving Forward - A Letter from Executive Director Carmen Rubio

This month has been surreal. We celebrated Oregon voters passing Measure 98 and Yes for Affordable Homes. And we are thrilled to see Latinos winning elections, including Teresa Alonso Leon and Diego Hernandez to the Oregon House and Melinda Veliz to the Woodburn City Council. We are also immensely proud to have our first U.S. Latina Senator from Nevada - Catherine Cortez Masto.  

At the same time, American voters made a choice to elect a President who has used harmful and divisive language that singles out Latinos, Muslims, immigrants, and other people of color. 

I have heard from many of our staff members and community members about the deep fear that exists within our communities. Many of us, our families, and people we know came to this country as immigrants seeking a better life. Leaving one's home to immigrate takes courage, strength, and a deep desire to seek something better for ourselves and our families. 

This same courage and strength will keep us all moving through the fear and prevent our communities from going back into the shadows. 

I'm asking all of you to find the deep belief of goodness and hope within yourself. This IS our work - we are here in this place and time with Latino children and adults to project, amplify, and reflect this goodness and reiliency and love of and for our beautiful Latino communities. 

There is a brighter tomorrow. We work for it when we work hard to pass measures like Measure 98. When we elect leaders who look like us and reflect our values. When we call for comprehensive immigration reform. When we fight racism, sexism, bigotry, and hate and replace it with love, resiliency, strength, and hope.

There is a brighter tomorrow for our communities, and it begins with us. 

Family Stability Programs Are Growing!

We are excited to expand our services to help more Latino families in the Portland-Metro area!

We are excited to expand our services to help more Latino families in the Portland-Metro area!

One of Latino Network’s core priorities is family stability – ensuring our Latino families have the resources and tools needed to thrive. While all of our programs include family engagement, we are proud to announce that our Family Stability programs has grown to serve even more Latino families.

The Multnomah Stability Initiative (MSI) is a county program to assist individuals throughout Portland to meet basic needs through rent assistance, energy assistance, and more. Among its services, one component of MSI is that it seeks to provide culturally specific services to low-income families – and our very own Family Stability Programs Team is proud to partner with the initiative to provide these services in the Latino Community!

“Our programs and services are informed by the communities we serve, so it is really a collaborative process for everyone involved,” said David DiMatteo, our Family Stability Programs Manager. “Building relationships with our community partners, and seeing all the great work being done at other agencies has also been really rewarding.”

MSI services include rental, energy, and housing assistance, and one-on-one case management. All services ensure that each participant receives culturally specific services that allow them better access to resources within the community. Currently, Latino Network has three employees who are dedicated to working with families through MSI. Though we focus on serving Latino families, our services are open to all families who may be in need. 

“In part, this model is reflective of changing demographics and the growth of the Latino community in Oregon,” said David. “We are lucky enough to be able to work with some great families.  It has been great to be apart of programs which really showcase people's strength and resiliency, creativity and heart.”

MSI and Family Stability have hit the ground running, and we’re so excited to witness the amazing things they’ll do for families throughout Portland!

See the full list of culturally specific organizations that are partnering with Latino Network and MSI to make this happen!


Latino Network Day @ Chipotle!

It's coming soon - your favorite burrito place is partnering with Latino Network for a fantastic day of making a difference in our community!

Eat at ANY Chipotle in Oregon or SW Washington and mention Latino Network on Tuesday, Oct. 25 and 50% of the profits go towards our programs!

This is your chance to make a difference in the lives of students, families, and communities while eating DELICIOUS food! Order catering, take your friends, or go on a date...

Whatever you do, mention us to the cashier and you'll be apart of this amazing effort to help Latinos throughout Oregon!

Date: Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Time: ALL DAY!

Location: ANY Chipotle in Oregon or SW Washington 


Visit our Facebook event page and RSVP!

Welcome Unid@s Cohort V!

Unid@s is the Latino Network leadership development program that helps cultivate strong and connected leaders within the Latino community across Oregon. The goal of the program is to advance the voice and well being of all Latinos through increased leadership and advocacy.

This year, we welcome the fifth cohort of Latino leaders from around the state of Oregon as they begin a yearlong exploration of leadership as a Latino/a. 

“Having worked with community leaders across the country and the state I have learned the stories of transformational and servant leaders,” said Octaviano Merecias, Policy and Civic Engagement Manager at Latino Network. “This year's cohort members are transforming their communities in various ways and the most exciting thing is that such change is happening in the place I call home.”

The cohort just finished participating in the annual Unid@s kickoff retreat at the Oregon Coast, where participants focused on leadership topics such as: establishing a foundation for collaboration,
constructivist listening, supportive leadership and unlearning oppression, and understanding leadership oppression. The sessions are led by Nanci Luna Jimenez of Luna Jimenez Seminars. 

In a time when policy, leadership and advocacy closely relate to the well being of minorities in America, Unid@s aims to engage Latino leaders of all ages and help them become involved in advocating for the Latino community. 

“Latin@s in Oregon are the fastest growing ethnic minority across the state,” said Octaviano. “When I think of Unid@s I think of building a very important and much-needed leadership pipeline to work towards addressing the challenges and opportunities presently and in the near future.”

Interested in learning more about the members of Unid@s Cohort V? Visit the Unid@s Cohort V webpage here. 

Write here...

Noche Bella Exceeds Fundraising Goals!

Wow! Thank you so much to all of our sponsors, supporters, and friends who gathered on September 23rd to help us celebrate the amazing Latino communities in Portland and across Oregon. 

Together, we raised $205,000!! Funds will ensure Latino youth & families are empowered to be agents of change in their schools, communities, and across Oregon. 

Whether it is parents of an incoming kindergartener learning to advocate, high school students finding their voice, or community members learning how to run for office, we know our youth and families are strong, resilient, and courageous. We look forward to working with them this year to create change. 

Ballet Folklórico's Corazones Alegres were one of the talented groups that provided entertainment at Noche Bella. 

Ballet Folklórico's Corazones Alegres were one of the talented groups that provided entertainment at Noche Bella. 

More than 400 people gathered at Castaway for the evening of Latin American cuisine and music. Dinner was catered by Mahayuel Catering/Tamale Boy who served up delicious tamales, salmon in a mole rosa sauce, and an ice cream dessert for all to enjoy. Entertainment was provided by Ballet Folklorico youth dance group Corazones Alegres, mariachi singer Edna Vazquez, and band Dina y los Rumbos. 

Executive Director Carmen Rubio shared news of the organization’s growth – Latino Network is now more than 100 staff members with 34 school-based sites serving more than 3,600 youth and families! 

She also commented on the toxic rhetoric present this year for Latinos, and many communities of color, and commended our elected officials in Portland who are standing up for the right thing. 

Executive Director Carmen Rubio spoke of the positive growth and transformation of the Latino community at Noche Bella. 

Executive Director Carmen Rubio spoke of the positive growth and transformation of the Latino community at Noche Bella. 

“More than ever, we must invest in and support courageous political thought leaders that, despite this toxicity, stand up and do the right thing, denounce hateful rhetoric, support our beautiful and diverse communities, and are always, always reminded of whom they are elected to serve.” 

Aguila Award honoree, Judge Darleen Ortega echoed Carmen’s sentiments. Judge Ortega was honored for her incredible work with the Latino community, building a more equitable Oregon through her personal and professional actions. 

“In an atmosphere when Latinos are problematized and treated as the criminal element as problems, I know that is such a lie. I live in that world and I know different,” Judge Ortega said. “The courage, resiliency and leadership within the Latino community is beautiful.”

Thank you to our emcee Oscar Montemayor, Unidos Cohort II alumni! Huge thank yous to our presenting sponsor Portland Development Commissioner and gold sponsor Oregon Lottery, as well as all of our other sponsors. See you next year! 

Students Gain Skills at Summer Internships

Do you remember your first internship? For 18 Escalera students who just completed summer internships, they certainly have a memorable experience! 

Latino Network and 11 other local organizations worked with these students to provide a great opportunity for their resumes and career paths. Huge thank you to the following partners who hosted students:

  • Lara Media 
  • YWCA
  • Independent Publishing Resource Center
  • Powers Studios
  • Lewis & Clark College
  • Verde
  • Immigrant Law Group
  • Pacific Northwest Carpentry Institute
  • Bike Farm
  • Boys & Girls Club - YouthForce Program
  • St. Johns Farmers' Market

Renzo Meza, the internship coordinator for Latino Network, highlighted the importance of providing professional opportunities to Latino students in high school. 

In fact, some students were given the opportunity to continue working with their organizations after the internship was over. “Because of her solid and efficient work ethic, Caroline was invited to continue interning with Powers Studios during the school year to work on some social media projects,” said Renzo. 

Other students were involved in internships that let them explore potential careers of interest. Last week, Pascuala – a student intern at Immigrant Law Group who is considering law school – observed court case alongside her supervisor. “This exposure lets her get a sense of what practicing law looks like, and it helps her make a plan for her future as a lawyer,” said Renzo. 

From teaching Latino youth about their Mexican cultural identities to learning how social media marketing works, all 18 students took away something valuable this summer. 

We’re so proud of you and what you will do with your bright futures! Congrats for finishing a summer full of hard work!

If you’re interested in hosting a student during the school year or next summer, contact Renzo Meza,, for more information. 

We Were Honored as Far West Regional Affiliate of the Year!

On July 26, 2016 at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) annual conference in Orlando, FL, Latino Network was recognized as Far West Regional Affiliate of the Year. 

The award is the one of the highest honors bestowed on an NCLR Affiliate for its exemplary work in serving its community and advancing the mission of NCLR. Latino Network was recognized at the Affiliate Leadership Breakfast during the conference. It also comes with a $5,000 cash prize. 

Latino Network has implemented several NCLR programs to increase educational opportunities for Latino youth including Escalera college preparation for high school students, CASA for middle school students, and Padres Compremtidos for parents. We also served more than 100 adults with English as a Second Language and immigrant integration classes through the Bienvenidos program.

This year, Latino Network’s Escalera program had a 100% graduation rate for its high school students at Madison,  Roosevelt, and Benson High  Schools in Portland Public Schools.  

“This award is a testament to the amazing talent and hard work of our staff members who dedicate themselves every day to working with the community,” Carmen Rubio, Executive director, said. “We are privileged to work with our community members and look forward to continuing to lift up the voices of youth and families in Oregon.” 

As an affiliate, Latino Network has been able to access funding, curricula, and expertise from NCLR and from other Latino-led organizations. The partnership has helped Latino Network expand its programs to serve more than 2,000 youth and families last year, and expand its staff to more than 80 permanent employees. 

NCLR is the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S. and works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. Latino Network has been an affiliate since 2012.

Our SUN Schools are Up and Running

With programs in eight schools, our SUN Program is helping build community and academic success.

Cesar Chavez School - Students in the SUN Community School summer program at Cesar Chavez enjoy a visit from Alejandra Ceja - the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. Not only do students get extra academic help and enjoy field trips, but they also are able to meet guest speakers and engage with positive Latino role models in the community\ 

Cesar Chavez School - Students in the SUN Community School summer program at Cesar Chavez enjoy a visit from Alejandra Ceja - the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. Not only do students get extra academic help and enjoy field trips, but they also are able to meet guest speakers and engage with positive Latino role models in the community\ 

We are proud to announce the launch of our SUN Schools this summer! SUN Community Schools are meant to not only help students have a safe enriching place to grow, but also to engage with their parents and other community members as well.

“My favorite thing about the SUN School Program is seeing schools, families, and the community work to support the academic success of underpriveledged students,” said Antonio Subira, manager of SUN Community Schools for Latino Network. “SUN Community Schools can provide culturally specific services that have proven to be effective in our community.”

This summer’s SUN activities included four weeks of enriching programs, food pantries at select sites, and healthy lunches for all students. 

The SUN Schools help create a holistic, supportive community that all students and parents can rely on, and we're so excited to be apart of this amazing county-wide program!

We're in the following eight schools:
•    Bridger Elementary
•    Cesar Chavez School
•    Harvey Scott School
•    Kelly Elementary
•    Rigler elementary
•    Reynolds Middle School
•    Hartley Elementary
•    Woodland Elementary


If you're interested in learning if a school in your area has a SUN Community program, check out our website or the SUN School locations webpage on Multnomah County's website. 


Congrats, Grads!

Graduates from Roosevelt (top) and Benson Polytechnic (bottom) high schools hold their diplomas and sport Escalera stolls.

Latino Network is proud to announce 100% of our Escalera seniors graduated from high school in June! Congratulations!

Our high school programs promote positive cultural identity and academic success in students’ academic journey and beyond. Escalera focuses on creating a supportive academic and social community for juniors and seniors to help them graduate and focus on their futures. Each cohort ranges between 20 to 25 students, and all students develop deep friendships and a sense of community throughout the two-year program. 

We asked Santos Herrera – our School Based Programs Manager – if he wanted to personally congratulate the grads. Here’s what he had to say:

"Graduating from high school was not a dream come true. It was a goal you achieved. Every homework assignment, every quiz, every test, every group project was a step toward your goal. I want you to take a moment to acknowledge that I did not write a single scholarship essay for you or took a single quiz or test for you. You did it, and that is why your name is on the diploma.
You may not be 100 percent sure about what is coming next in life, but one thing you can be sure of, and that is you have the tools to find the answers you need. Ask for help. Take risks. Take the time to get to know people. You and I did not know each other when we began this journey, during your junior year, and through meeting twice a week, we were able to build trust and comfort in one another. 
I promised you my very best, and you returned the favor. Do not be afraid to replicate that with people you meet on your way to the future. I love all of you and want you to know I am proud of you. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life."

We couldn’t be more proud of you grads! We can’t wait to see what’s in store for your bright futures!

Escalera 2015-2016 By the Numbers:

44 seniors enrolled
100% graduation rate

43 enrolled in college
1 enrolled in Electrician Apprenticeship program

3 schools: Madison, Benson Polytechnic, and Roosevelt High School