UnidosUS Recognizes Affiliates for Local Efforts to Empower Latino Families

WASHINGTON, DC—UnidosUS (formerly National Council of La Raza), the nation’s largest Latino civil rights organization, honored two community-based organizations that form part of the UnidosUS Affiliate Network for their outstanding efforts to assist and broaden opportunities for Latino families. Semillas Sociedad Civil in Los Angeles, and El Concilio in Kalamazoo, Mich., were awarded with the UnidosUS Family Strengthening Award.

Presented annually, the UnidosUS Family Strengthening Awards honor UnidosUS-affiliated community-based organizations for their commitment to bolstering the success and strength of the Hispanic community through a combination of programs and services. Each recipient receives a cash award to further their work in the community and their partnership with UnidosUS.

“We are thrilled to honor El Concilo and Semillas Sociedad Civil with the UnidosUS Family Strengthening Award. Since their founding, these organizations have demonstrated a deep commitment to transforming the lives of Latino families. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, these organizations have also pivoted to provide emergency support to some of the most vulnerable families in their communities. We applaud the exemplary and important work these organizations are engaged in to empower Latinos every day—and especially during this unprecedented time,” said UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía.

Based in Los Angeles, Semillas Sociedad Civil was established in 2001 out of great concern for the harmonious regeneration of Indigenous Peoples. Semillas Sociedad Civil emerged from the hearts of mothers, fathers and teachers who took that first step and organized a resistance to English-only laws in California. As our nation continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, UnidosUS is proud to recognize Semillas Sociedad Civil’s efforts to respond to the needs of highly vulnerable communities, including the creation of a decolonized cooperative pantry which has been critical in their response to the pandemic.

“Semillas Sociedad Civil is honored to receive the 2020 UnidosUS Family Strengthening Award. Including all of our families in ways that promote self-determination instead of assimilation, language enrichment instead of linguicide and community-building instead of building borders is critical today, tomorrow and always. Through our organization, we have built a school at the center of a barrio called a kalmekak, an interweaving of our homes and our families to build a community dedicated to raising our children to become good ancestors. To recognize the growing presence and affirmations of Indigenous Peoples of Latin American national origins in the United States today is to understand that we are not foreign to this continent. We are not a nation of immigrants. We are the original peoples and survivors of multiple waves of genocide intended to eradicate our families, communities and nations. That we exist today is a testament to the fortitude of our ancestors and the promise of our future generations,” said Marcos Aguilar, Executive Director of Semillas Sociedad Civil.

For more than 30 years, El Concilio has sought to serve the Latino community by advocating and providing culturally sensitive services that promote the social and economic well-being of Latinos in the greater Kalamazoo area. An UnidosUS Affiliate since 1993, El Concilio works to meet the needs of a community often hindered by language barriers, cultural differences and unfamiliarity with service agencies and institutions. In response to this year’s health pandemic, El Concilio set up the Mi Gente Fund to provide cash assistance to undocumented individuals and families in extenuating circumstances due to reduction or loss of wages, to be able to pay their rent/mortgage, food, utility bills and/or medical bills during the current crisis.

“It is a great pleasure and honor to work with committed staff and volunteers who have a passion for serving and supporting our community in very difficult times. El Concilio is so thankful and humbled to receive the UnidosUS Family Strengthening Award 2020. This award is for the community we serve and all the Latinx community organizations that give their heart, time, passion and commitment to our Latinx families. El Concilio works to assist members of Greater Kalamazoo with the attainment of resources and basic needs in order to strengthen individuals and families. El Concilio’s programs and services focus on establishing a strong foundation in education, equity and cultural identity. Our ultimate goal is to promote economic, employment, health, social and psycho-emotional success of the Latinx community while preserving and enhancing our cultural identity. Muchas gracias to our UnidosUS family for this award,” said Adrian Vazquez-Alatorre, Executive Director of El Concilio.