El Pueblo targets collaboration

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — El Pueblo, North Carolina’s leading Latino advocacy group, is revamping its advocacy and lobbying strategy, outsourcing its signature La Fiesta del Pueblo event, and aiming to raise more money from individuals.

A key goal will be to work more closely on advocacy and lobbying with other Latino and community-based groups throughout the state, says Zulayka Santiago, executive director.

“We are headed to a place of serious coalition-building and collaborating, looking at how we can best support the work of community organizations across the state in partnership with other nonprofits doing social-justice work,” she says.

In the most recent session of the state legislature, for example, El Pueblo teamed with the state NAACP and other groups to push for full funding of education programs that affect Latino students, she says.

The result was full funding of a $27 million supplemental fund for disadvantaged students and a $41 million supplemental fund for low-wealth students, and the elimination of a $44 million discretionary cut, she says.

Compared to what she characterizes as “El Pueblo’s legislative priorities” in the current legislative session, she says, the group will work with other organizations on a “Latino legislative agenda” for the next session.

And while her predecessor, Andrea Bazán-Manson, served as the organization’s chief lobbyist, the main lobbying work this year has been handled by contract lobbyist Paula Wolf and by Marisol Jiménez McGee, the organization’s advocacy director and lobbyist, says Santiago.

After Bazán-Manson was named president of the Triangle Community Foundation, Santiago was promoted to executive director in January and has been focusing on her new role, she says.

Santiago, who handles some lobbying, says El Pueblo also hopes to work closely on advocacy issues with groups like the Durham-based North Carolina Latino Coalition and the Coalición de Organizaciones Latino Americanas in Western North Carolina.

El Pueblo, which in the past has overseen all details of La Fiesta del Pueblo, also has contracted with Mary & Parrish Events Management in Durham to handle logistics, operations and vendor-management for the event.

The annual festival, to be held September 9 and 10 at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, generates about $90,000 a year for the organization.

With an annual budget of $1.3 million and a staff of 13 people plus four intern positions, El Pueblo generates nearly half its budget from government grants.

Those include a three-year grant of $375,000 from the N.C. Health and Wellness Trust Fund to promote tobacco prevention among teens, and grants from state and federal government to reduce the number of drunk-driving cases involving Latinos.

El Pueblo receives $293,000, or just over one-fifth of its budget, from foundations, including just over $29,000 from San Francisco-based Hispanics in Philanthropy.

Corporate sponsorships for La Fiesta del Pueblo account for the most of the remainder of the budget.

Santiago says El Pueblo plans to increase giving from individuals, who account for roughly 1 percent of the organization’s budget.

Participating in that effort will be Dan Moore, an El Pueblo board member and former officer of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and consultant to NC Gives, a program of the North Carolina Community Foundation that promotes philanthropy among people of all income levels, not just the wealthy.

“While El Pueblo has developed a strong reputation and legacy within the community,” Santiago says, “we haven’t really given people an opportunity to support our organization financially, and that’s one of my priorities.”

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