By Todd Cohen
RALEIGH, N.C. — Latino leaders from throughout North Carolina convened in Raleigh on last month to meet with members of the state’s congressional delegation and with officials of the state Department of Health and Human Services and the state Community College System to talk about issues involving the state’s growing Latino population.
Top priorities included reforming U.S. immigration laws and improving relations with local social services agencies and community colleges, says Ivan Parra, lead organizer for the North Carolina Latino Coalition.
The coalition, a network of 53 grassroots Latino groups from throughout the state, organized the event at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church.
Launched in January, the coalition works to connect Latino groups, provide them with technical assistance and help Latinos in local communities launch their own organizations, says Parra.
The coalition in July, for example, sponsored a training session on grassroots fundraising attended by roughly 75 Latino leaders from throughout the state.
And it worked with a group of Catholic and Episcopal churches in Roxboro in Person County to help local Latino leaders form Union Latina, a nonprofit community center that provides access to services for Latinos.
With an annual budget of $120,000, the coalition has received grants from a statewide funders’ collaborative that is part of the national Hispanics in Philanthropy initiative, and from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Mich., and the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation in Winston-Salem.