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    by Janet Murguia

    Homeownership is the cornerstone of the American Dream, and like all Americans, Latinos work toward that dream and a stable financial future. In recent years, however, problems in the housing market have made the dream impossible for many Latino families. In today’s tough economic and political climate, some politicians blame first-time homebuyers for the foreclosure crisis. Federal regulators are considering exorbitant down payments as a requirement for buying a home, and too many local governments are implementing restrictive ordinances designed to keep immigrants from accessing affordable and quality housing options. At this rate, the dream of homeownership may never come true for millions of Latinos.

    Now is the time for us to stop this nonsense and stand up for our rights as homeowners and renters. The time for blaming is over, and the time for action has arrived. That is why the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) is launching the Home for Good Campaign (H4G)—to refocus America’s energy toward solving the housing crisis.

    By signing the H4G petition, we are demanding that Congress and President Obama put a stop to wrongful foreclosures, end discrimination, invest in affordable housing, and, most importantly, protect the American dream of homeownership. With your support, NCLR will ask Timothy Geithner, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Treasury, to heed these three simple, but important commitments.

    Commitment One: Stop wrongful foreclosures—they only exacerbate the problem. Foreclosing on a property benefits neither the homeowner nor the surrounding community. That is why NCLR is seeking renewed federal focus on a national strategy that will prevent needless foreclosures—one that will help Latino families stay in their homes and create a viable plan for them to pay their mortgages.

    Commitment Two: Protect all affordable housing options. The rising number of families unable to buy a home necessitates a greater need for affordable, high-quality rental options. This is especially urgent since less affordable housing is being built, which prevents many low-income families from finding housing that fits into their budgets in safe and desirable neighborhoods.

    Commitment Three: Keep homeownership available to all. At one point, owning a home was an achievable reality for most Americans, especially the middle class. However, during this recession, more Americans have fallen out of the middle class and the dream of homeownership has remained out of reach for too many.

    We need our government to work with us to ensure that homeownership remains obtainable. Owning a home should be a likelihood for all Americans, not a privilege reserved for the rich. Please join us today and help ensure that homeownership and affordable housing remain an achievable part of the American Dream.

    Ask Sec. Geithner to give us real solutions to the housing crisis, please sign NCLR’s petition


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    by Janet Murguia

    Homeownership is the cornerstone of the American Dream, and like all Americans, Latinos work toward that dream and a stable financial future. In recent years, however, problems in the housing market have made the dream impossible for many Latino families. In today’s tough economic and political climate, some politicians blame first-time homebuyers for the foreclosure crisis. Federal regulators are considering exorbitant down payments as a requirement for buying a home, and too many local governments are implementing restrictive ordinances designed to keep immigrants from accessing affordable and quality housing options. At this rate, the dream of homeownership may never come true for millions of Latinos.

    Now is the time for us to stop this nonsense and stand up for our rights as homeowners and renters. The time for blaming is over, and the time for action has arrived. That is why the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) is launching the Home for Good Campaign (H4G)—to refocus America’s energy toward solving the housing crisis.

    By signing the H4G petition, we are demanding that Congress and President Obama put a stop to wrongful foreclosures, end discrimination, invest in affordable housing, and, most importantly, protect the American dream of homeownership. With your support, NCLR will ask Timothy Geithner, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Treasury, to heed these three simple, but important commitments.

    Commitment One: Stop wrongful foreclosures—they only exacerbate the problem. Foreclosing on a property benefits neither the homeowner nor the surrounding community. That is why NCLR is seeking renewed federal focus on a national strategy that will prevent needless foreclosures—one that will help Latino families stay in their homes and create a viable plan for them to pay their mortgages.

    Commitment Two: Protect all affordable housing options. The rising number of families unable to buy a home necessitates a greater need for affordable, high-quality rental options. This is especially urgent since less affordable housing is being built, which prevents many low-income families from finding housing that fits into their budgets in safe and desirable neighborhoods.

    Commitment Three: Keep homeownership available to all. At one point, owning a home was an achievable reality for most Americans, especially the middle class. However, during this recession, more Americans have fallen out of the middle class and the dream of homeownership has remained out of reach for too many.

    We need our government to work with us to ensure that homeownership remains obtainable. Owning a home should be a likelihood for all Americans, not a privilege reserved for the rich. Please join us today and help ensure that homeownership and affordable housing remain an achievable part of the American Dream.

    Ask Sec. Geithner to give us real solutions to the housing crisis, please sign NCLR’s petition


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    By JANET MURGUÍA

    One out of every four children in America is Latino, and 92% of those children are U.S. citizens.
     

    There's a lot of buzz these days about a finding in the 2010 Census that confirms what the Latino community has long known: The Hispanic population in this country has grown dramatically over the last decade. What was once the province of a few states has now become an integral part of our national community.

    Although recent news reports about the Census express "surprise" about the size of the Hispanic population, it is important to remember that Latinos have always been a vibrant part of American history and culture. For generations, Latino soldiers have fought and died for this country with valor and distinction. The first Medal of Honor given to a Hispanic soldier was during the Civil War. Latino workers helped build America's railroads and highways. They rebuilt the Pentagon after 9/11. And they have helped raise our children and take care of our elderly.

    Still, it's not surprising that the size of the Hispanic population has drawn a great deal of attention. There are now more than 50 million Hispanics in the country. In other words, one out of every six people in America is Hispanic. Moreover, one out of every four children in America is Latino, and 92% of those children are U.S. citizens.

    Like others who brought demographic change to America, our presence has stirred anxiety among some of our fellow Americans. A century ago, people expressed the same concerns about waves of immigrants from Italy, Ireland and Eastern Europe. It was understandable—but it also turned out to be unfounded. As the number of Latinos grows, our fellow Americans need to overcome the natural human anxiety that accompanies change and look for common ground.

    Every issue that Americans care about—whether education, health care, Social Security or the economy—involves the Latino community. "One out of every four children" means that those who are interested in ensuring that children receive the highest quality education possible should also worry about Hispanic achievement levels. Those working to get our economy back on track need to address high unemployment levels, especially among young Latinos. Now more than ever, with baby boomers reaching retirement age, we need all Americans working and contributing to Social Security and Medicare.

    It's time for people to stop thinking about Latinos as "foreigners," "aliens," or "others" and start thinking of us as their fellow workers, classmates, colleagues, worshippers, neighbors, friends and family.

    Like other large demographic shifts in our nation's history, the growth of the Latino community will benefit America. Latinos reinforce traditional American values of faith, family and love of country. And they will reinvigorate the economy with a much-needed influx of younger workers committed to hard work, entrepreneurship and service to our nation.

     

    Wall Street Journal, OP-ED, Friday, April 22, 2011
    Ms. Murguía is president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza.


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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    Jennifer Occean
    (202) 776-1732
    joccean@nclr.org

    Washington, D.C.—Latino youth are one of the fastest-growing segments of the population in the United States, poised to fill the workforce gap as millions of baby boomers retire over the next decade. Yet, achieving economic mobility remains out of reach for as much as 42% of Latino youth who face numerous barriers to academic and career success and are dropping out of high school at persistently high rates. Today, NCLR (National Council of La Raza) released Plugged In: Positive Development Strategies for Disconnected Latino Youth, a report that profiles disconnected Latino youth and the programs that serve them, including NCLR’s Escalera program that helps prepare Latino high school students for college.

    Disconnected youth are identified as young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are out of school with or without a high school diploma or in danger of dropping out, and are detached from the labor market and postsecondary education. Fortunately, community-based initiatives such as NCLR’s Escalera Program: Taking Steps to Success provide the necessary reinforcements to reconnect Latino youth to academic progress and economic well-being.

    “Unique life circumstances such as language barriers and questionable immigration statuses are factors that play heavily in the ability of Latino youth to succeed at the rate of their counterparts,” said Delia Pompa, NCLR Senior Vice President of Programs.

    The report finds that the following core competencies are central to the success of disconnected youth:
    • Reconnection is a crucial first step for the majority of disconnected youth and is facilitated by positive relationships developed through case management.

    • Foundational skills, or effective communication, conflict resolution, problem-solving, and critical-thinking abilities, are necessary to healthy social relationships and to the workplace.

    • Leadership and personal development activities empower Latino youth to demonstrate and strengthen individual skills by setting their personal, educational, and career goals and devising a plan of action to meet them at their own pace.

    • Educational attainment is an integral part of Latino youth’s success. All sites profiled for the report ensure that participants attain a GED or high school equivalency and enroll in some form of postsecondary education or vocational training.

    • Workforce readiness skills, which encompass workplace etiquette, responsibility, self-esteem, time management, and social networking, are essential to Latino youth’s economic mobility.

    • Career exploration helps Latino youth set, prioritize, and meet their personal, educational, and career goals.

    The NCLR Escalera Program: Taking Steps to Success was created in collaboration with the PepsiCo Foundation and PepsiCo, Inc. and currently operates in seven communities throughout the U.S., helping Latino youth who may need additional support to achieve academic and career success. The 15-month program offers career exploration, leadership development, personal development, and academic enrichment. Customized programs offer additional services targeting younger students, emphasize science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and focus on youth who are disconnected from school or work. The Escalera program has served approximately 1,200 Latino youth, with 92% of enrolled students completing graduating from high school and 89% enrolling in postsecondary education.

    “The support given to Hispanic youth through the Escalera program enables them to control their futures. They identify their strengths and build upon them,” said Pompa.

    ###
     


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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  

    Contact:
    Julian Teixeira (NCLR)
    (202) 766-1812
    jteixeira@nclr.org

    Yvette Nuñez (Congreso)
    (215) 763-8870, ext. 1531

    Fernando Treviño (DUSA)
    (609) 504-2613

    Enrique Cortez (LSR)
    (202) 525-7411 

    Philadelphia is first in series for Latinos and Social Security, ¡Tu Futuro Cuenta! campaign

    Philadelphia—On May 3, Congreso de Latinos Unidos (Congreso), Democracia U.S.A. (DUSA), NCLR (National Council of La Raza), and Latinos for a Secure Retirement (LSR) will host a town hall to address myths and concerns about Social Security and its importance to Latino families. Members of the growing Philadelphia Latino community, local elected officials, and national Latino leaders will meet at Congreso de Latinos Unidos education and training center, located at 2800 N American Street, beginning at 1pm. The event is free and open to the public.

    Social Security is widely recognized as a successful, efficient public program that serves as a powerful safety net for Americans who cannot work because of age or disability. However, it has come under attack under the guise of deficit reduction, despite the fact that Social Security has not contributed one dime to the federal deficit and will remain financially solvent without any changes until 2037.

    Latino seniors are particularly vulnerable to the most recent proposed cuts and changes to Social Security. Although the program keeps millions of seniors out of poverty, the average yearly Social Security benefit for Hispanic seniors is only $12,213 for men and only $9,536 for women. These benefits represent nearly all of the income for most Latino seniors; cuts would be disastrous.

    In Philadelphia, Social Security contributes more than $2.9 billion to the local economy by paying benefits to more than 243,000 residents. It is fitting that the City of Brotherly Love serves as the launching point for the first town hall in a series being held across the country as part of the Latinos and Social Security, ¡Tu Futuro Cuenta! campaign.

    MEDIA ADVISORY

    WHAT: Congreso, DUSA, NCLR, and LSR town hall on Social Security and its importance to Latino families.

    WHO: Yvette Nunez, Congreso, Rafael Collazo, DUSA, Fernando Trevino, DUSA, Leticia Miranda, NCLR, Jeff Cruz, LSR, Roy Aragon, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare

    WHEN: Tuesday, May 3
    Lunch, Noon EDT
    Town Hall, 1:00–2:30 p.m. EDT
    Media Availability, 12:00-1:00p.m. EDT

    WHERE: Congreso de Latinos Unidos education and training center
    2800 N. American Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19133
    (215) 763 – 8870

    Space is limited. Please contact Yvette Nuñez at (215) 763-8870, ext. 1531 to RSVP for this event or to get more information.

    For a PDF version of this advisory, click here.

     

    ###

    For more information about Congreso de Latinos Unidos, visit www.congreso.net.
    For more information about Democracia U.S.A., visit www.democraciausa.org.
    For more information about Latinos for Secure Retirement, visit http://lulac.org/about/Latinos_for_a_Secure_Retirement.


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    By: Catherine Singley

    For many Americans, today is just another day on the job. But for families who have lost loved ones to traumatic—often preventable—injuries at work, April 28 is a day of remembrance. Workers Memorial Day, which corresponds with the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), is also an occasion for workers to raise their voices for safer workplaces, fair wages, and dignity on the job.

    To that end, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) is launching a new collection of stories told by Latino workers that bring to light injustices that are all too common in today’s low-wage labor market. The series is called We Needed the Work: Latino Worker Voices in the New Economy. Reynaldo’s story is one of countless examples of the painful consequences of limited recourse for workers employed in informal and temporary work arrangements.

    Throughout the month of May, NCLR will release a new story every Thursday, concluding with the publication of a booklet of all the stories. On May 24, NCLR will host an event in Washington, DC to present the publication and hold a panel discussion on policy efforts to protect workers’ rights.

    Click here to read workers’ stories
    Click here
    to learn more about the event on May 24.
     


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    PARA DIFUSIÓN INMEDIATA

    Contacto:
    Yvette Núñez (Congreso)
    (267) 241-9361

    Fernando Treviño (DUSA)
    (609) 504-2613


    Kathy Mimberg (NCLR)
    (202) 316-2612


    Enrique Cortez (LSR)
    (202) 525-7411
     

    Comienza la campaña “Latinos and Social Security, ¡Tu Futuro Cuenta!” en Philadelphia con una reunión del foro municipal

    Philadelphia—La propuesta actual para cambiar el Seguro Social amenaza reducir las modestas prestaciones con las que cuentan las personas latinas de la tercera edad en todo el país para el resto de sus vidas. Este fue el mensaje transmitido hoy en una reunión municipal en Philadelphia que lanzó la campaña Latinos and Social Security, ¡Tu Futuro Cuenta!

    La reunión municipal fue presentada por varias organizaciones líderes latinas que trabajan juntas para proteger la integridad del programa federal de seguro social, incluyendo a Congreso de Latinos Unidos (Congreso), Democracia U.S.A. (DUSA), NCLR (Consejo Nacional de La Raza), y Latinos por una Jubilación Segura (LSR, por sus siglas en inglés). En el foro estuvieron miembros de la creciente comunidad latina de Philadelphia, funcionarios del gobierno local, y líderes latinos nacionales que abordaron los mitos y las preocupaciones acerca del Seguro Social y hablaron de su importancia para las familias latinas.

    “Los formuladores de políticas deberían enfocarse en proteger y fortalecer los cimientos de la seguridad de jubilación de nuestra nación”, declaró Jeff Cruz, director ejecutivo de Latinos por un Retiro Seguro. “Cortar las prestaciones sería desastroso para las personas latinas de la tercera edad que a duras penas sobreviven ahora y sería forzarlas a tener dificultades innecesarias”.

    Las personas latinas de la tercera edad son especialmente vulnerable a los recortes y cambios al Seguro Social. Aunque el programa mantiene a millones de ellas fuera de la pobreza, el ingreso anual promedio del Seguro Social que reciben los hombres hispanos es de $12,213 y para las mujeres sólo $9,536. Estas prestaciones representan casi todo el ingreso de la mayoría de los ancianos latinos. Mientras que la formula de beneficio progresivo favorece a los trabajadores de salarios bajos, las personas hispanas mayores reciben las prestaciones promedio más bajas debido a las ganancias bajas durante su vida.

    Las personas latinas de la tercera edad también carecen de acceso al programa. Setenta y tres por ciento de ellas recibe Seguro Social comparado con el 86% de todas las personas mayores. Los trabajadores latinos con ingresos bajos frecuentemente tienen empleadores que les pagan mal o que no reportan sus salarios al Seguro Social, lo que conduce a una menor elegibilidad. Además, las leyes que cubren a los trabajadores domésticos dificultan que estos puedan calificar para la cobertura del Seguro Social.

    “Nuestro déficit no tiene nada que ver con el Seguro Social, la red de seguridad social más importante”, dijo Leticia Miranda, directora adjunta del proyecto de política económica y empleo del NCLR. “Deberíamos estar fortaleciendo el programa para mejorar las prestaciones y el acceso para los ancianos de bajos ingresos”.

    El Seguro Social está ampliamente reconocido como un programa público exitoso y eficiente que sirve como una poderosa red de seguridad para los estadounidenses que no pueden trabajar por su edad o discapacidad. Sin embargo, el programa ha sido atacado en numerosas ocasiones con la excusa de la reducción deficitaria, a pesar del hecho de que el Seguro Social no ha contribuido al problema del déficit federal y permanecerá solvente sin ningún cambio hasta el 2037. Se estima que el Seguro Social podría pagar alrededor del 80% de las prestaciones prometidas después del 2037.

    “Es crítico que veamos la solvencia del Seguro Social a largo plazo”, dijo Jorge Mursuli, presidente de Democracia U.S.A. Las decisiones de hoy tendrán impacto en nuestra capacidad para garantizar que el programa continúe beneficiando a futuras generaciones”.

    El Seguro Social tiene poderosos efectos contra la pobreza. De los latinos que se benefician del Seguro Social, el 19.2% se considera pobre; sin las prestaciones, este porcentaje se dispararía al 50% para las personas latinas mayores. Más allá de proveer a las personas de la tercera edad seguridad financiera y dignidad, el Seguro Social también es un motor importante para la economía local. En Philadelphia, el Seguro Social contribuye con más de $2.9 miles de millones a la economía de la ciudad al pagar prestaciones a más de 243,000 residentes.

    “Aplaudimos al NCLR, Latinos para una Jubilación Segura, y Democracia U.S.A. por lanzar esta iniciativa en Philadelphia,” declaró Yvette Núñez, vicepresidenta de Congreso de Latinos Unidos. “Congreso está comprometido a garantizar que nuestra comunidad esté bien informada sobre los asuntos que afectan directamente a sus miembros y familias”.

    La campaña Latinos and Social Security, ¡Tu Futuro Cuenta!, lanzada en Philadelphia, presentará una serie de reuniones municipales en mercados clave del país, para destacar la importancia del Seguro Social para los latinos y defender el programa de los intentos para debilitarlo.

    ###

    Para más información sobre Congreso de Latinos Unidos, visite www.congreso.net.

    Para más información sobre Democracia U.S.A., visite www.democraciausa.org.

    Para más información sobre NCLR, visite www.nclr.org.

    Para más información sobre Latinos para una Jubilación segura, visite http://lulac.org/about/Latinos_for_a_Secure_Retirement.
     


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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact: 

    Yvette Nuñez (Congreso)
    (267) 241-9361

    Fernando Treviño (DUSA)
    (609) 504-2613


    Kathy Mimberg (NCLR)
    (202) 316-2612


    Enrique Cortez (LSR)
    (202) 525-7411
     

    “Latinos and Social Security, ¡Tu Futuro Cuenta!” campaign kicks off in Philadelphia with town hall forum

    Philadelphia—Current proposals to change Social Security threaten to reduce the modest benefits that Latino senior citizens across the country rely on for nearly their entire livelihood. This was the message delivered today at a town hall in Philadelphia that launched the Latinos and Social Security, ¡Tu Futuro Cuenta! campaign.

    The town hall was hosted by several leading Latino organizations working together to protect the integrity of the federal social insurance program, including Congreso de Latinos Unidos (Congreso), Democracia U.S.A. (DUSA), NCLR (National Council of La Raza), and Latinos for a Secure Retirement (LSR). The forum featured members of the growing Philadelphia Latino community, local government officials, and national Latino leaders who addressed myths and concerns about Social Security and discussed its importance to Latino families.

    “Policymakers should be focused on protecting and strengthening the bedrock of our nation’s retirement security,” stated Jeff Cruz, Executive Director of Latinos for a Secure Retirement. “Cuts to benefits would be disastrous for Latino seniors who barely survive now and would be forced into needless hardship.”

    Latino seniors are particularly vulnerable to cuts and changes to Social Security. Although the program keeps millions of seniors out of poverty, the average yearly Social Security benefit for Hispanic seniors is only $12,213 for men and only $9,536 for women. These benefits represent nearly all of the income for most Latino seniors. While Social Security’s progressive benefit formula favors low-wage workers, Hispanic seniors receive the lowest average benefits due to lower lifetime earnings.

    Latino seniors also lack access to the program. Seventy-three percent of Hispanic seniors receive Social Security compared to 86% of all seniors. Low-income Latino workers often have employers who underpay them or do not report their wages to Social Security, which leads to greater ineligibility. Furthermore, laws covering domestic workers make it harder for them to qualify for coverage under Social Security.

    “Our deficit crisis has nothing to do with Social Security, our most important social safety net,” said Leticia Miranda, Associate Director of NCLR’s Employment and Economic Policy Project. “We should be strengthening the program to improve benefits and access for low-income seniors.”

    Social Security is widely recognized as a successful, efficient public program that serves as a powerful safety net for Americans who cannot work due to age or disability. Yet the plan has been repeatedly attacked under the guise of deficit reduction, despite the fact that Social Security has not contributed one dime to the federal deficit and will remain financially solvent without any changes until 2037. It is projected that Social Security would be able to pay around 80% of promised benefits after 2037.

    “It’s critical that we look at the long-term solvency of Social Security,” said Jorge Mursuli, President of Democracia U.S.A. “Our decisions today will impact our ability to ensure that the program is around to benefit future generations.”

    Social Security has powerful anti-poverty effects. Of the Latinos who benefit from Social Security, 19.2% are considered poor; without the benefit, this percentage would soar to 50% among Latino elderly. Beyond providing seniors with financial security and dignity, Social Security is an important engine for local economies as well. In Philadelphia, Social Security contributes more than $2.9 billion to the city’s economy by paying benefits to more than 243,000 residents.

    “We applaud NCLR, Latinos for a Secure Retirement, and Democracia U.S.A. for launching this initiative in Philadelphia,” stated Yvette Nuñez, Vice President of Congreso de Latinos Unidos. “Congreso is committed to ensuring that our community is well-informed about the issues that directly impact them and their families.”

    The Latinos and Social Security, ¡Tu Futuro Cuenta! campaign, launched in the City of Brotherly Love, will host a series of town halls in key markets across the country to highlight the importance of Social Security to Latinos and defend the program from attempts to weaken it.

    ###

    For more information about Congreso de Latinos Unidos, visit www.congreso.net.

    For more information about Democracia U.S.A., visit www.democraciausa.org.

    For more information about NCLR, visit www.nclr.org.

    For more information about Latinos for Secure Retirement, visit http://lulac.org/about/Latinos_for_a_Secure_Retirement.
     


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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    Joseph Rendeiro
    jrendeiro@nclr.org
    (202) 776-1566

    Janet Murguía Becomes Chair of Board of Directors for Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility

    Washington, D.C.—As the incoming 2011–2012 chair for the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR) board of directors, Janet Murguía, President and CEO of NCLR (National Council of La Raza), welcomes the opportunity to advocate for greater inclusion of Hispanics in corporate America. Murguía, who has served on the board since 2005, assumed the role of chair on May 3, taking the reins from Ignacio Salazar, President and CEO of SER – Jobs for Progress National, Inc.

    “Janet is an extremely qualified successor and the perfect fit for this position,” said Salazar, who will continue to serve on the organization's executive committee as immediate past chair. “She has always been a passionate supporter of HACR’s goals and will no doubt serve as an exemplary leader for the Hispanic community as we advocate for more representation within corporate America.”

    HACR represents a coalition of 16 of the most influential Hispanic organizations within the United States and Puerto Rico, including NCLR. The coalition works together for Hispanic communities through advocacy, education, resource development, and public policy support. As chair, Murguía will encourage corporations that benefit from Hispanic consumers to hire talented members of the community and support Hispanic-owned businesses and Hispanic-serving philanthropic organizations.

    “Businesses that benefit from the incredible purchasing power of Hispanics should have that community represented in all aspects and at all levels of the company,” Murguía said. “I am honored to be elected as chair of HACR’s board of directors and look forward to working with HACR’s leadership and members to improve corporate social responsibility when it comes to the Latino community.”

    Murguía has served as President and CEO of NCLR since 2005, advocating on behalf of Latinos for civil rights, immigration reform, health care, and economic issues and pushing for more civic participation among Hispanic Americans. She serves on the board of directors for the American Heart Association and on the executive committee of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

    Founded in 1986, the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR) is one of the most influential advocacy organizations in the nation representing 16 national Hispanic organizations in the United States and Puerto Rico. Our mission is to advance the inclusion of Hispanics in Corporate America at a level commensurate with our economic contributions. To that end, HACR focuses on four areas of corporate responsibility and community reciprocity: employment, procurement, philanthropy, and governance. For more information, visit www.hacr.org.

    ###
     


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    (cross-posted from Univision News)

    By Janis Bowdler

    Thanks to an increase in prepaid cards, the question of paper versus plastic no longer applies to just grocery bags. It is now a question about how you prefer to pay for daily expenses. Prepaid cards are reloadable payment cards that are issued by banks―and therefore come with certain protections and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insurance―and carry the American Express, Discover, MasterCard, or Visa logo. In 2009, $124.6 billion were loaded onto prepaid debit cards, and the market is expected to reach $308 billion by 2012. The rise of prepaid cards is undoubtedly due in part to their focus on a key market segment: America’s nine million adults without a traditional bank account, known as the “unbanked.”

    According to a study by the FDIC, nearly 20% of Latinos are unbanked. While some insist that the problem lies in a lack of education, many cite good reasons for rejecting traditional bank accounts, such as “gotcha fees” and minimum balance requirements. Still, running a household without a bank account can be costly. The FDIC estimates that families without a bank account spend as much as $700 per year just on routine transactions such as cashing checks and paying bills.

    While many in the industry are pointing to market opportunities, local branches are having a hard time wooing the unbanked. This is in part because the economics break down on both sides of the equation―banks claim that the segment is expensive to serve, and consumers find traditional accounts inconvenient. This is where prepaid cards offer some promise. Financial companies, community banks, and Uncle Sam are turning to prepaid cards as a cheaper way to deliver the functionality of checks, and there is evidence that consumers once shut out of the banking system are responding positively. Last year, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) surveyed VITA clients in five cities where prepaid cards were available for those without traditional bank accounts. Card users gave the product high marks. They enjoyed the convenience of plastic and the control of only being able to spend what they have on their prepaid card.

    As with all banking products, consumers must still be on guard. In our survey, some card users were hit with high fees unexpectedly or charged more when they became unemployed and lost their direct deposit. Prepaid cards have the potential to become a real alternative to costly transaction services if they offer a simple and transparent fee structure and the security of a traditional bank account. As this budding market expands, we urge the prepaid card industry to adopt the highest standards of accountability. Doing so will establish a credible financial tool that safely expands the financial opportunities of unbanked families.  


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    by Patricia Foxen

    NCLR's latest publication on the growth of the Latino population is out. Currently, one in four American children is Latino, nearly three in four Hispanics are U.S. citizens, and more than nine in ten Latino children are U.S. citizens. Latino workers are fueling U.S. industries that are key to the nation’s economic growth: more than one in five American agricultural, construction, and food manufacturing workers are Hispanic. Through hard work and entrepreneurship, social and civic contributions, and a determination to see their children become productive Americans, Latinos are strengthening communities throughout the country.


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    This past March, the U.S. Census Bureau released new data about the Latino population in the United States. The news was eye-opening, as Census figures showed that between 2000 and 2010, the Hispanic population grew from 35.3 million to 50.5 million, accounting for more than half of the overall national growth rate during that period.

    To give you an idea of what the numbers mean for our country, NCLR has developed two interactive maps that reflect these recent data. The first map shows the percentage of the under-18 population that is Hispanic and the state-by-state growth of the under-18 population from 2000 to 2010. The second map shows a state-by-state breakdown of the overall population that is Hispanic. We hope that you find these maps as useful and as fascinating as we do—they provide great insight into how this country is evolving.

    A sample of the map showing the population of the U.S. that is now Hispanic. 
     

    We’re still learning about the changing face of our nation. In fact, last week the Census Bureau released additional demographic information on 13 states, which includes age breakdowns and detailed information about the Asian and Hispanic sub-populations. NCLR is currently poring over these data, so check back often for updates.


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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    Kathy Mimberg
    (202) 776-1714
    kmimberg@nclr.org

    Julian Teixeira
    (202) 365-2273 (cell)
    jteixeira@nclr.org

    NCLR California Latino Advocacy Day will bring together over 300 Latino leaders

    Sacramento—More than 300 advocates from throughout the state, representing over 57 California community-based organizations, will convene on the steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento on Wednesday, May 11 and ask members of the California State Legislature to pass the “California Dream Act.”

    If enacted, the bill will allow undocumented students who were brought to California as young children and have grown up in the state to qualify for in-state tuition rates and state financial aid programs. Passing the “California Dream Act” is essential for California, which will need highly educated and skilled professionals to recover from the recession. Undocumented students who move on to higher education will provide the labor necessary for a competitive global workforce.

    We all must share the responsibility of helping California pull itself back up. These advocates will urge legislators to balance the state’s budget without significantly reducing funding from programs that specifically benefit Latinos. Legislators also will be encouraged to support the advancement of English language learners in California schools, funding for education, easier access to health care, and workforce development benefits such as an increase in California’s minimum wage—measures that will benefit not just the Latino community but all residents of the state.

    NCLR (National Council of La Raza) will hold a press conference and rally on the north steps of the State Capitol to discuss the importance of passing the “California Dream Act.” Speakers will also address why supporting legislation that impacts California’s Latino population is so essential to the economic health and stability of the state.

    After the rally conference, attendees will meet with their local representatives and ask them to pass these legislative measures to ensure a better future for all Californians and Latinos.

    MEDIA ADVISORY

    WHAT:          Rally urging the passage of the “California Dream Act”

    WHO:            Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR & California Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes

    WHEN:          Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 11:00–11:30 a.m. PDT

    WHERE:       California State Capitol
                        North Capitol Steps
                        Sacramento, CA 95814

    Great Photo Opportunity!

    For further information or questions, or to schedule an interview, please contact Julian Teixeira, Director of Communications, NCLR, at jteixeira@nclr.org.

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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    Julian Teixeira
    (202) 365-2273
    jteixeira@nclr.org


    STATEMENT FROM JANET MURGUÍA, NCLR PRESIDENT AND CEO, REGARDING ARIZONA GOV. JAN BREWER’S DECISION TO APPEAL TO THE U.S. SUPREME COURT OVER THE NINTH CIRCUIT COURT RULING ON SB 1070



    Washington, D.C.—Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s appeal to the Supreme Court over SB 1070 is an attempt to codify racial profiling in her state and marks the continuation of a political gambit that has proven disastrous for Arizona.

    Laws such as SB 1070 are costly, unconstitutional, and ineffective, and lead us away from real solutions to our broken immigration system.

    Governor Brewer’s decision to sign SB1070 last year brought her state nothing but a tale of woe. The law sparked opposition from mayors, law enforcement officials, business leaders, civil rights, faith, and community organizations within the state. Nationally, it brought swift condemnation from the civil rights community for legitimizing racial profiling, tarnishing the state’s image, and making Arizona a punch line on late-night talk shows.

    And what has Arizona gained from pursuing this extremist approach to purportedly deal with immigration? Not a solution, but boycotts, significant losses in tourism dollars and economic activity at a time the state could least afford it, legal fees from multiple lawsuits, and court rulings that affirmed the unconstitutionality of the law. On tourism alone, Arizona has already lost $490 million and has a projected loss of $262 million from a decline in future convention bookings.

    Our immigration system is in tatters—but the response to federal inaction cannot be irresponsible state action. Other states are taking notice: SB 1070’s costs are not adding up for many legislators facing budget trouble in their states, and growing and diverse sets of business, religious, civil rights, labor, and social justice leaders are coming together to reject such unconstitutional and costly schemes.

    We will be better off as a nation if we instead focus on the real issues and create viable solutions that fix the problem of immigration at the federal level. As such, we urge Gov. Brewer to be part of the solution, and to call upon her own congressional delegation to act quickly and comprehensively on immigration. That course would be more fitting of the Grand Canyon State than unleashing racial profiling and discrimination against entire segments of its community.

    Gov. Brewer, however, marches resolutely on, ignoring that Arizonans are paying dearly for the mounting costs of her political gambit and not getting any closer to the actual solution that they deserve.
     

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    For Immediate Release 
    May 10, 2011

    Contact:
    Joseph Rendeiro
    jrendeiro@nclr.org 

    (202) 776-1566         

    Washington, D.C.—NCLR applauds the fact that President Obama is using his bully pulpit to reinvigorate the push for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Coming on the heels of one of the most important national counterterrorism measures of his administration, the speech underscores the importance of this issue to the country.

    The president is right to highlight the steps his administration has taken to make the country more secure, bolster resources at the border, and crack down on unscrupulous companies that exploit American and immigrant workers. He is also right to point out that Congress must fulfill its responsibility to produce legislative reform. We continue to note with concern the deafening silence of the Republican leadership on CIR as well as other issues of importance to the Latino community. We urge them to break their silence for their own sake as well as that of the American public.

    That being said, we hope and expect that the White House will go beyond speeches and meetings and take meaningful action. As record levels of detention and deportation continue to soar, families are torn apart, innocent youth are being deported, and children are left behind without the protection of their parents. Such policies do not reflect American values and do little to solve the problem. We can do better.

    NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. For more information on NCLR, please visit www.nclr.org or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    May 11, 2011

    Contact:
    Jennifer Occean
    (202) 776-1732

    Washington, D.C.—Today, NCLR (National Council of La Raza) commended Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and his colleagues for reintroducing the “Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act” and praised Reps. Howard Berman, D-Calif., Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., for reintroducing their complementary version of the legislation into the U.S. House of Representatives.

    The “DREAM Act” is a commonsense measure that will allow immigrant students who were raised in the U.S. and attend college or serve in the military to earn their legal immigration status. The legislation passed in the U.S. House of Representatives last year and received a bipartisan majority vote in the U.S. Senate, but that was not enough to overcome a filibuster by opponents. Following a call made by President Obama yesterday for Congress to act, these leaders have introduced a bill that is clearly necessary from an immigration perspective, as well as from an education, economic, and military-readiness standpoint.

    “This legislation will allow our nation to maintain competitiveness in the global economy by enabling students who have been raised here and who seek to be a part of a highly educated workforce the opportunity to pursue the American Dream,” said Clarissa Martínez De Castro, NCLR Director of Immigration and National Campaigns. “We continue to hear from many young people who are eager to give back to our country and who join us in calling on Congress to pass the ‘DREAM Act.’”

    One student whose story represents those with high hopes that the “DREAM Act” will be approved is Emilio, a young man who was brought to the U.S. by his parents when he was six years old: “I went through elementary, middle, and high school in North Carolina, and it is the only place that I call home. I graduated from high school in 2010 as one of the top ten students in my class, as an honor student, an AP scholar with hundreds of hours of community service, and I was awarded a full-ride scholarship to my first choice university. However, unless the broken immigration system is fixed, when I graduate from college in four years I won’t be able to use my college degree. My dream is to give back to my community.”

    There are many more potential beneficiaries of the “DREAM Act,” and like Emilio, they attend colleges and universities, and in some cases their extraordinary academic abilities lead them to enroll in graduate programs. Yet, they are never able to put their degrees to use for our nation’s benefit. Businesses, military leaders, and educators have long supported the “DREAM Act.” Our country has invested in the education of many of these individuals since kindergarten, and it is only proper to allow them to fully contribute through their merits and service.

    “Our country needs and will benefit immensely from these young people and their talents and their drive to succeed. From a moral, economic, and policy perspective, America cannot afford to lose another generation of young people who stand to contribute to its economic and social prosperity,” concluded Martínez De Castro.

    NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. For more information on NCLR, please visit www.nclr.org or follow us on Twitter and Facebook

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    By Elena Lacayo

    Despite the initial hype that anti-immigrant legislation modeled after Arizona’s SB 1070 would spread quickly through the country, state after state has rejected proposals to follow Arizona down its failed path. In the year since SB 1070 was signed, 24 states have rejected copycat legislation. Even Arizona legislators recently voted down a new set of anti-immigrant bills in response to mounting pressure from the business and civil rights leaders.

    In some cases, states have rejected the flawed legislation twice over. For example, last week, Florida became the second state to reject SB 1070 copycat legislation for the second time since SB 1070 was passed in Arizona (Kansas having been the first). The debate there was contentious and controversial. Indeed, even the sponsors of anti-immigrant legislation began to walk away from their own proposals, leaving their bills to die at the very end of the legislative session. Florida got the message too and recognized that extreme anti-immigrant legislation comes with great economic, social, and political costs.

    Unfortunately, not all states have learned the lesson from the failed experiment in Arizona.

    Earlier this week, Utah’s Arizona-copycat law HB 497, the “Utah Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act,” was implemented for less than a day before it was put on hold by the courts. And today, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed into law HB 87, the “Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011,” harmful anti-immigrant legislation modeled after Arizona’s widely criticized and unquestionably flawed SB 1070. Both of these bills mimic the draconian Arizona legislation, providing local law enforcement with an overly broad license to investigate residents’ immigration statuses, thus, opening the doors to racial profiling.

    States must ask themselves what Arizona has gained from pursuing this extremist approach to immigration reform. Instead of solving the problem, SB 1070 has inspired boycotts that cost Arizona hundreds of millions of dollars in tourism revenue and economic activity at a time when the state could least afford it. Governor Brewer has pumped $250,000 of public funds into a public relations campaign to repair the state’s tarnished image and continues to spend money defending SB 1070 against lawsuits, despite multiple court rulings upholding the unconstitutionality of the law.

    Both Utah and Georgia are walking down the same failed path paved by Arizona lawmakers. These damaging pieces of legislation threaten the public safety and civil rights of state residents and will force both states to endure the same legal battles and financial losses that ensued in Arizona. Utah’s HB 497, which was signed by Utah Governor Gary Herbert on March 16 with a package of immigration bills, is already being challenged in court by civil right groups who argue that it violates federal law. Similar to Arizona, it is unclear how long or costly this legal battle will become.

    Choosing to pursue the same course of action will also negatively impact the economy in both Utah and Georgia. A day before the Georgia law was even signed, new reports showed concern over the expected losses that would follow its approval. Opposition came from the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Georgia Farm Bureau. Even professional athletes scheduled to play at the Civil Rights Game in Atlanta this weekend have spoken out against the law due to concerns over racial profiling.

    Twenty-four states have already rejected the irresponsible approach to immigration reform pioneered by Arizona; Georgia and Utah should heed the warning that nothing good will result from this legislation. While the American public is legitimately frustrated with the federal government’s failure to advance real immigration solutions, states cannot respond by passing irresponsible laws that legitimize racial profiling; lawmakers must create solutions that will reform the immigration system at the federal level. Utah and Georgia legislators must be part of this discussion, and we call upon their congressional delegations to help draft comprehensive legislation that fixes America’s immigration system.
     


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    New Interactive Video Educates Latino Youth About the Program and Includes a Chance to Win a Trip to Washington

    Today, NCLR is rolling out a new campaign, the Social Security VideoQuiz, to educate Latino youth about Social Security and what it means for them and their families. Social Security supports workers when they retire or if they become disabled, and if a parent dies, the program provides benefits to the family.

    The campaign comes on the heels of a town hall held earlier this month in Philadelphia where Latino senior citizens and youth came together to voice their concerns about the future of the cherished program and talk about some of the misconceptions that many people have about it.

    NCLR continues to work with seniors all across America, but today marks our push to educate America’s youth about just how important this program is to the Latino community. Two-thirds of Latino workers have jobs that do not offer any type retirement plan, which leaves these workers to depend more on Social Security in old age. For many Hispanic seniors, Social Security is often the only source of income. Furthermore, nearly three out of four Latino seniors receive Social Security benefits that help keep them out of poverty. In 2008 for example, 19.3% of Latino seniors lived below the poverty line; that number would stand at close to 50% without Social Security!

    Check out a sample of the video after the jump. 

    Visit www.nclr.org/videoquiz to take the whole quiz.

    Despite how much Hispanics depend on Social Security and how much it benefits whole families, Latino youth often have very little understanding of what the program does, how it works, or what’s at stake for the future. Of today’s 20 year olds, one in four will become disabled before age 67, and one in eight will die before that age; Social Security provides protection against loss of income in those situations. However, there are plans in Washington to cut Social Security benefits—and the cuts proposed would affect today’s young people the most.

    To combat the lack of knowledge, NCLR has created the Social Security VideoQuiz that aims to increase understanding of Social Security so that young people are educated about the program and can help their families claim the benefits that they deserve. This interactive video features a group of Washington, DC teens answering questions about the program.

    The VideoQuiz clears up common misconceptions that youth might have about Social Security and includes a message from Congressman Xavier Becerra (D–CA) as well as a downloadable, bilingual information page to aid communicating with family members.

    But wait, there’s more.

    NCLR wants to hear from you, and we’re giving away a special gift to entice your help. After you watch the VideoQuiz, tell us what you think about Social Security. What does it mean to you? What kind of impact has it had on your family or your life? What would you or your family do if there was no such thing as Social Security?

    We’re looking for video responses, so send us a link to your video. We’ll accept flip-cam videos, cell phone responses, professional-grade productions, or anything—just get your video up and tell us what you think.

    Here’s the best part: in mid-June, the maker of NCLR’s favorite response will win a flight to Washington, DC and a free registration to our Annual Lideres Summit, the premier Latino youth leadership conference! If you’re the winner, we’ll put you up in a hotel for the Conference, and you’ll get to meet other inspiring Latinos from all over the country. It’s a fantastic opportunity! See contest details are here.

    Now check out our VideoQuiz and start recording those responses!


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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    Jennifer Occean
    (202) 776-1732
    joccean@nclr.org

    Washington, D.C.—The Best Buy Children’s Foundation and NCLR (National Council of La Raza) announce the recipients of the fifth NCLR-Best Buy Emerging Latino Leaders Scholarship Program. Four graduating Hispanic high school seniors will receive a total of $25,000 in scholarships to attend the school of their choice.

    The winning students were selected based on their academic achievement, leadership, and involvement in the Latino community. Students submitted essays on the challenges that they have faced while advocating on behalf of the Latino community.

    The four recipients of the NCLR-Best Buy Emerging Latino Leaders Scholarship are:

    • Marcos Montalvo (Houston, TX) in the amount of $15,000
    • Isabella Girlado (Holly Spring, NC) in the amount of $5,000
    • Lucero Sifuentes (East Flat Rock, NC) in the amount of $2,500
    • Max Fresquez (Penasco, NM) in the amount of $2,500

    The NCLR Líderes Initiative promotes the NCLR-Best Buy Emerging Latino Leadership Scholarship program. Líderes is a national youth leadership program designed to increase awareness about available opportunities for young Latinos to elevate their impact in the United States. To learn about other leadership and education opportunities for young people, please visit the Líderes Initiative website at lideres.nclr.org.

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    We are delighted to feature a guest blog post from our NCLR Affiliate, Connecticut Puerto Rican Forum

    By Kimberly Flint, Literacy Coordinator

    In today’s financially competitive atmosphere, a small nonprofit organization must be able to position itself in such a way that opportunities are not missed; in fact, they must be created. Although research, knowledge, recruiting the right staff, and understanding the needs of the community are certainly factors that will impact success, a key to the entire process that should not be underestimated is the business of networking. Some call it “schmoozing.” Some refer to “being in the right place at the right time.” The truth of the matter is that relationship-building is a cornerstone of any organization whose goal is to improve the well-being of the people it serves.

    The Connecticut Puerto Rican Forum (CPRF), a vital provider of services to the Latino community in Hartford for over 32 years, is dedicated to improving the socioeconomic status of its clients and realizes that this cannot be done with a silo mentality. In fact, a motto that underlies the attitudes of its executive director and staff, which you may hear from time to time, is that “90% of the time, it’s about showing up!” The importance of this philosophy is exemplified at the organizational level by the CPRF staff, but it is also a goal of CPRF to impart this wisdom to its participants in its workforce development training programs as a vital skill that will correlate with increased opportunities and ultimate success.

    It is a simple fact in the nonprofit world that partnerships and collaborations are essential to the credibility and sustainability of an organization. Back in February, CPRF attended a “meet and mingle” event in spite of some common obstacles: it was raining, the person attending was new to CPRF and going alone, and, of course, it seemed like there was so much other work to do that this would not be worthwhile. However, perseverance and attendance at this event yielded a new relationship with an organization that became a member of CPRF’s Employer Advisory Council and a crucial collaborator on a grant proposal, resulting in the placement of 50 youth in a summer employment program.

    Just last month, CPRF attended Latino Advocacy Day at the Connecticut State Capital Legislative Offices with the participants of its E-Workplace/Customer Service Program. Advocacy, in and of itself, is an exercise in networking, given that if you want to be acknowledged by legislators and have a voice, you must at the very least be present and counted. However, at this event CPRF also connected with an organization that has offered to provide one-on-one computer tutoring and assistance for CPRF clients, which will compliment the skills they are presently learning. This brand new relationship simply would not have begun if CPRF didn’t “show up.” Examples like this are then used in the classroom to encourage students to make an effort to attend job fairs and other events, even if they don’t immediately see their relevance.

    CPRF’s executive director, Yanil Terón, reached her position today directly because of networking. In 2000, right around the corner from CPRF, Terón was attending a fundraising event. She met CPRF’s executive director at the time, who discovered that Yanil had a background in communications and was looking for a job. A part-time position at CPRF was created for her. The rest is history: In 2002, she became an Associate Director, by 2004 she was Assistant Director, and in 2007 she was appointed Executive Director. This is clearly a case of the right person being in the right place at the right time.

    A CPRF program, ESL for Home Childcare Providers, is another setting where this philosophy is passed along to the participants. Each student is given tools to market their own home child care business within the curriculum of this course, and each is encouraged to use every event where families are present as a networking opportunity. They are coached to carry flyers or business cards wherever they go and think of any parent as a possible client, any person they meet as potentially having a child care need or knowing someone who does.

    It is crucial to put aside preconceived notions about organizations as possible partners or employers, as well as about individuals and what they might know or have to offer in a given situation. While this strategy sometimes requires the uneasy prospect of stepping outside of one’s comfort zone—not everyone enjoys getting to know new people—CPRF has found time and time again that it often provides unexpected positive results. Every potential relationship is also a potential business opportunity. As they say, “You just never know!”

     


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