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    By Janet Murguía

    The clock has started ticking for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which must review the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile. While the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) typically does not take positions on such mergers, we believe the review process presents a good opportunity for the FCC and other regulatory agencies to both take into account and more importantly take action to strengthen diversity in the media and telecommunications sector.

    T-Mobile’s track record with regard to the Latino community leaves much to be desired. For example, although T-Mobile USA is more than a decade old, it only launched its Hispanic outreach effort less than two years ago. In addition, American Rights at Work, a nonprofit organization, recently issued a report blasting T-Mobile for its active hostility toward unionizing efforts among its employees, in direct contrast to the policy of its parent company, Deutsche Telekom.

    While there is always room for improvement, we see a ray of hope in AT&T’s historic and ongoing commitment to diversity. AT&T and its predecessor companies have been pioneers in this field when it comes to the Hispanic community. Their relationship with the community dates back decades. It is therefore not surprising that AT&T has one of the most diverse and representative workforces in the industry, including at the highest levels of the company. In addition, we note that according to the National Minority Supplier Development Council, AT&T has one of the strongest minority procurement records of any company, regardless of industry. It is little wonder then that Hispanic Business, DiversityInc, and other magazines have bestowed numerous “best of” awards on AT&T in recent years.

    We recognize that the policy debate on the proposed merger has focused on complex and often arcane questions related to the availability of the 4G spectrum and the likely impact of increased market concentration on pricing and innovation—issues of which NCLR cannot claim extensive expertise. However, as the FCC and the Department of Justice move forward in this process, we hope and expect that improving diversity will be a cornerstone of whatever they ultimately decide.

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    Joseph Rendeiro, NCLR
    (202) 776-1566


    Washington, D.C.—The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) will host a panel discussion on Tuesday, May 24 at NCLR Headquarters in Washington to address widespread and often overlooked problems plaguing Latinos in the workplace. Eric Rodriguez, NCLR Vice President of the Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation will moderate a discussion among representatives from leading advocacy organizations who will examine the prevalence of issues such as wage theft, unsafe working conditions, and lack of benefits and health insurance. Panelists will also discuss policy efforts to protect workers’ rights.

    The discussion coincides with the release of We Needed the Work: Latino Worker Voices in the New Economy. This NCLR publication is a collection of stories told by eight Latino workers who have encountered dangerous workplaces, jobs with nominal wages, no benefits, no paid sick leave, and abusive employers. The workers explained the ways in which these experiences have affected their lives and their families. The stories are representative of issues faced by millions of low-wage workers across the country. For a preview, please visit the NCLR website.


    WHO:                      Eric Rodriguez, Vice President, Office of Research, Advocacy,
                                   and Legislation, NCLR
                                   Sara Benitez, Research Analyst, NCLR
                                   Annette Bernhardt, Policy Co-Director, National Employment Law Project
                                   Jodie Levin-Epstein, Deputy Director, Center for Law and Social Policy
                                   Peg Seminario, Director, Safety and Health, AFL-CIO
                                   Portia Wu, Vice President, National Partnership for Women & Families

    WHAT:                    Panel discussion and release of We Needed the Work: Latino Worker Voices in the New Economy

    WHEN:                   Tuesday, May 24, 2011, 9:00–11:00 a.m.

    WHERE:                NCLR Headquarters
                                 Raul Yzaguirre Building
                                 1126 16th Street, NW, Suite 600
                                 Washington, D.C. 20036

    TO COVER:          Please contact Joseph Rendeiro at or call (202) 776-1566.

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    Kathy Mimberg
    (202) 776-1714

    NCLR forum to discuss state of America’s Latino youth

    Washington, D.C.—At a convening on May 25–26, NCLR (National Council of La Raza) will examine the political and social policy climate for Latino children in the U.S. in an effort to bring together advocates from youth, policy, and government organizations to build a Latino child advocacy network. In addition to NCLR experts, speakers at the event include U.S. Representatives Judy Chu, D-Calif., and Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., Roberto J. Rodríguez from the White House Domestic Policy Council, and Dr. Martha Moorehouse from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, among others.

    Members of the news media are invited to the Hilton Washington Embassy Row, located at 2015 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, for sessions to be held between 9:30 a.m. and noon on Wednesday, May 25, titled “Securing Our Nation’s Future: Advocating for Children and Youth” and “What Does the Political and Social Climate across the Local, State, and Federal Governments Look Like for Latino Children?” At 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 26, Representative Chu will join Josephine F. Garza, Executive Director of the National Latino Children’s Institute, in addressing the importance of building a Latino children’s network.

    An NCLR report from 2010, America's Future: Latino Child Well-Being in Numbers and Trends, found that stronger advocacy efforts on behalf of Latino children are critical to our nation’s future. Nationally, Hispanics have low rates of high school graduation (55 percent) and are at a disproportionate risk for incarceration (a rate of one in six for Latino males). Nearly 20 percent of Hispanic children lack health insurance, and their rates of obesity have increased to 41 percent. If current trends continue, nearly 45 percent of all children in poverty in 2030 will be Latino. The political and social climate in the U.S. makes it difficult to achieve positive policy outcomes for young Hispanics. NCLR is bringing advocates together to form a national network to help more Latino children be successful in school and in life.

    According to U.S. Census data, the Latino child population —93 percent of whom are U.S. citizens—grew 39 percent between 2000 and 2010. As our future leaders, workers, and taxpayers, it is imperative that they gain the skills necessary to succeed in school and the global marketplace.


    WHAT:              Three sessions addressing the state of Latino children in the U.S. and the need for stronger advocacy efforts
                             to ensure their future success

    WHEN:             Wednesday, May 25, at 9:30 a.m.
                            Thursday, May 26, at 9:30 a.m.

    WHERE:          Hilton Washington Embassy Row
                            2015 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
                            Washington, DC 20036

    WHO:              U.S. Representative Judy Chu, D-Calif.
                           U.S. Representative Chaka Fattah, D-Pa.
                           Roberto J. Rodríguez, Special Assistant to the President for Education Policy, White House Domestic Policy
                           Martha Moorehouse, Ph.D., Director, Division of Children and Youth Policy, Office of the Assistant
                           Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
                           Sheri Steisel, Senior Federal Affairs Counsel, Senior Director of the Human Services Committee, National
                           Conference of State Legislatures
                           Clifford M. Johnson, Executive Director, Institute for Youth, Education, and Families, National League of
                           Josephine F. Garza, Executive Director, National Latino Children’s Institute
                           Peter A. Zamora, Senior Education Counsel, Senator Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M.
                           Eric Rodriguez, Vice President, Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation, NCLR
                           Liany Elba Arroyo, Associate Director, Education and Children’s Policy Project, NCLR

    Space is limited. Please RSVP to Kathy Mimberg at or call (202) 776-1714.

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    NCLR is proud to announce that Janet Murguía, our President and CEO, has been awarded an honorary doctorate degree from California State University (CSU) Dominguez Hills.

    Murguía is committed to high-quality education for the Latino community, and her involvement in federal policy debates is aimed at increasing education opportunities for our Latino children. This conviction is also evident in NCLR’s programmatic work with our Charter School Network, the Escalera Program, and Líderes Initiative, among others. Last Friday, the College of Business and Administration recognized Murguía’s work and awarded her with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.

    CSU Dominguez Hills serves a thriving Latino population in Southern California, and we couldn’t be prouder to have Murguía’s work felt throughout the area. She was joined by Dr. John Tracy, who received an honorary doctorate for his work in science and education.

    “Both Dr. Tracy and Ms. Murguía have had impressive careers and serve as fine examples to our students of what they too can achieve with a college education,” said Mildred García, President of CSU Dominguez Hills. “We are honored to bestow these degrees on them.”

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    By Eric Rodriguez

    In this country we cherish and value hard work, believing it to be dignified and worthy of recognition and respect. In the United States labor market, millions of workers, many of whom are Latino, are working hard for low wages—holding down jobs that offer no benefits, no safety from workplace injury, and no chance of upward mobility into good-quality jobs. Over the last several decades, job quality in the U.S. has declined as employers respond to stiff global competition by reducing wages, decreasing the standard benefits offered to workers, and in some cases willfully violating labor laws and health and safety standards. Occasionally, a story about exploited workers, severely injured or killed on the job, makes the evening news, offering a glimpse into the everyday experiences of workers in the low-wage labor market. Despite these news accounts, there is very little noticeable political and public will—certainly at the national level—to improve standards in the low-wage labor market. Some may believe that low wages, no benefits, and lax health and safety standards are a normal part of the underbelly of the U.S. labor market, while others may believe that workers who choose to take these jobs do not deserve more. Either way the result is the same—no significant improvement in the working conditions of low-wage workers.

    In an effort to illustrate the impact of poor job quality, National Council of La Raza (NCLR) is releasing a collection of stories told by Latinos working in low-wage industries throughout metropolitan Washington, DC. This publication, We Needed the Work: Latino Worker Voices in the New Economy, tells the story of hardworking Latinos who have endured instability, mistreatment, and the violation of their basic rights, all in an effort to support themselves and their families. These stories also show that poor working conditions are common and widespread throughout the low-wage labor market, leaving workers with few options for better jobs. It is precisely the lack of choices that drives workers into unsafe workplaces, many run by unscrupulous and unaccountable employers.

    This collection chronicles the everyday struggles of men and women who work long hours, encounter daily threats to their health and safety, and experience constant fear of being fired and blacklisted if they dare to stand up for their rights. Whether they work in restaurant kitchens, clean offices and hotels, or construct homes and buildings, they all face similar threats to their health, safety, and financial insecurity due to job instability and the absence of benefits. Workers describe the effects of poor working conditions on themselves and their families, emphasizing their stress, anxiety, and diminished physical health due to injuries and illnesses.

    Take, for example, Rosa, a hotel housekeeper in northern Virginia who earns below-poverty wages and struggles to make ends meet. Four years ago, a new management company took over her hotel and began forcing all of the housekeepers to double the number of rooms they cleaned per shift and pay for their own cleaning supplies: 

    “When I go to the doctor he says that my muscles are inflamed,” Rosa told NCLR. “Well, look—it isn’t just me—all of my coworkers’ doctors say the same thing, that we have inflamed muscles from excessive work.” 

    Rosa and her coworkers initiated a campaign to unionize their hotel, forcing her employer to reduce the number of rooms she cleaned per shift and requiring that her cleaning supplies be provided for her. Nonetheless, the managers still pressure her to work more; even with two weeks’ notice and a letter from her church, she was denied a schedule change to attend her daughter’s first communion:

    “You feel penned in and it makes you want to leave and go somewhere else,” she explained, “but if we leave this fight, it will be as if our struggle was for nothing. If we leave this fight, everything will stay the same and they will continue exploiting more people.”

    But, Rosa’s story is only one piece of the puzzle. NCLR’s research staff spoke with laborers who were either being undercompensated for the time that they worked, often working at below- poverty wages like Rosa, or who were being completely cheated out of their wages. Others were not given the proper safety equipment and training to work in dangerous situations, such as asbestos clean-up, or could not find a job that offered employer-sponsored benefits to help them and their families meet their basic health needs. Still others were forced to endure harsh working conditions without food or water breaks, with no sick leave or vacation, and with the fear that complaining could cost them their jobs. These stories are not anomalies—millions of low-wage workers encounter these conditions every day.

    A strong workforce is critical to our nation’s economy. Yet, our workforce will remain weakened as long as a large segment of the labor market is unprotected. Latinos currently make up 15% of the U.S. workforce and are estimated to become 33% of the total population by 2050—they are the largest and fastest-growing segment of the American workforce. The experiences of Hispanic workers are a barometer by which to measure America’s job quality, economic health, and future stability; their experiences are critical to understanding and improving job quality in the U.S. To strengthen our current and future workforce, citizens and voters should listen to these stories and call on their leaders to restore dignity and respect for the millions of American workers who are the foundation of our economy.

    Rosa’s story was taken from a report, We Needed the Work: Latino Workers Voices in the New Economy, which will be released by NCLR on Tuesday, May 24. The names of all persons, companies, and organizations have been changed or omitted to protect the interviewees.  

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    24 de mayo de 2011

    Kathy Mimberg
    (202) 776-1714

    Foro del NCLR para analizar la situación de la juventud latina de los Estados Unidos

    Washington, D.C.— En el foro convocado para el 25 y 26 de mayo de 2011, el Consejo Nacional de La Raza (NCLR) examinará el clima socio-político que rodea a los niños latinos de los Estados Unidos. La intención de este foro es la de reunir a los defensores de la juventud, las organizaciones políticas y agencias gubernamentales para crear una red nacional de defensa de los niños latinos. Además de los expertos del NCLR, la lista de ponentes en este evento incluye a los miembros de Congreso Judy Chu, demócrata de California, y Chaka Fattah, demócrata de Pennsylvania; a Roberto J. Rodríguez del Consejo de Política Domestica de la Casa Blanca y a la Dra. Martha Moorehouse del Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos de los Estados Unidos, entre otros. 

    Se invita a los miembros de la prensa a asistir a las sesiones tituladas “Asegurando el futuro de nuestra nación: protegiendo y defendiendo a los niños y jóvenes” (Securing Our Nation’s Future: Advocating for Children and Youth) y “¿Cómo afecta a los niños latinos el clima socio-político a niveles de gobierno local, estatal y federal?” (What Does the Political and Social Climate across the Local, State, and Federal Governments Look Like for Latino Children?) que se llevarán a cabo el miércoles 25 de mayo de 9:30 a.m. a 12:00 p.m., en el Hilton Washington Embassy Row, ubicado en 2015 Massachusetts Avenue, NW. El jueves 26 de mayo a las 9:30 a.m., la diputada Chu junto a Josephine F. Garza, directora ejecutiva del Instituto Nacional de Niños Latinos, hablaran acerca de la importancia de la creación de una red nacional para la protección y desarrollo de los niños latinos.

    En un informe del NCLR de 2010, titulado “El futuro de los Estados Unidos: Cifras y tendencias del bienestar de los niños latinos” (America's Future: Latino Child Well-Being in Numbers and Trends), se afirma que un mayor esfuerzo de promoción en favor de los niños latinos es crucial para el futuro de nuestro país. A nivel nacional, los hispanos alcanzan bajas tasas de graduación de la escuela preparatoria (55%) y se encuentran en un riesgo desproporcionado de ir a prisión (una taza de uno de cada seis varones latinos). Casi el 20% de los niños latinos carece de seguro de salud y la tasa de obesidad ha aumentado hasta el 41%. Si la tendencia actual continúa, en 2030 casi el 45% del total de niños pobres será latino. El clima socio-político de los Estados Unidos hace difícil que se logren resultados políticos positivos para la juventud hispana. El NCLR está reuniendo a los promotores de acción política para formar una red nacional que ayude a los niños latinos a completar sus estudios y triunfar en la vida.

    Según los datos del censo de los Estados Unidos, entre 2000 y 2010 la población infantil latina aumentó un 39%, siendo el 93% de estos niños ciudadanos estadounidenses. Siendo nuestros futuros líderes, trabajadores y contribuyentes tributarios, es imperativo que adquieran las capacidades necesarias para que logren éxito en la escuela y puedan desempeñarse en el mercado global.


    QUÉ: Tres sesiones para abordar la situación de los niños latinos en los Estados Unidos y la necesidad de promover mayores esfuerzos políticos que aseguren su éxito
    en el futuro.

    CUÁNDO: Miércoles 25 de mayo a las 9:30 a.m.
    Jueves 26 de mayo a las 9:30 a.m.

    DÓNDE: Hilton Washington Embassy Row
    2015 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20036

    QUIÉNES: Judy Chu, diputada de la Cámara de Representantes de EE.UU., demócrata de California

    Chaka Fattah, diputada de la Cámara de Representantes de EE.UU., demócrata de Pennsylvania

    Roberto J. Rodríguez, asistente especial del presidente sobre Política Educacional del Consejo de Política Domestica de la Casa Blanca

    Dra. Martha Moorehouse, directora de la División de Políticas sobre la Juventud e Infancia de la Oficina del Subsecretario de Planeación y Evaluación del
    Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos de los Estados Unidos

    Sheri Steisel, asesor de Asuntos Federales y director principal del Comité de Servicios Humanos de la Conferencia Nacional de Legislaturas Estatales

    Clifford M. Johnson, director ejecutivo del Instituto para la Juventud, Educación y Familia de la Liga Nacional de Ciudades

    Josephine F. Garza, directora ejecutiva del Instituto Nacional de Niños Latinos

    Peter A. Zamora, asesor principal de Educación del senador Jeff Bingaman, demócrata de New Mexico

    Eric Rodríguez, vicepresidente de la Oficina de Investigación, Defensa y Legislación del NCLR

    Liany Elba Arroyo, directora adjunta del Proyecto de Políticas para la Educación y la Niñez del NCLR

    El espacio es limitado. RSVP a Kathy Mimberg a su correo electrónico o llame al (202) 776-1714.

    El Consejo Nacional de La Raza (NCLR por sus siglas en inglés), la organización nacional más grande de apoyo y defensa de los derechos civiles de los hispanos en los Estados Unidos, trabaja para mejorar las oportunidades de los hispanoamericanos. Para obtener más información, visite o síganos en Facebook o Twitter.



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    Joseph Rendeiro
    (202) 776-1566

    NCLR publishes collection of Latino workers’ stories and announces alliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration

    Washington, D.C.—NCLR (National Council of La Raza) is pleased to announce the release of We Needed the Work: Latino Worker Voices in the New Economy, a collection of personal stories about the experiences of Latino, immigrant, and other workers in the low-wage labor market in the U.S. These firsthand accounts offer a glimpse into the conditions that millions of low-wage workers face every day, including exposure to hazardous equipment, wage theft, and long hours with no breaks. In conjunction with the report’s release today, NCLR is hosting representatives from the AFL-CIO, the National Employment Law Project, the National Partnership for Women & Families, and the Center for Law and Social Policy at NCLR’s Washington headquarters for a panel discussion on policies that would eliminate the pervasive problems found in the low-wage labor market.

    “The powerful words of these hardworking Latinos demonstrate the need for urgent reform in the low-wage labor market” said Eric Rodriguez, Vice President of the Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation at NCLR. “The stories of these few individuals illustrate conditions that are rampant in the low-wage labor market and affect millions of workers across the country. Our nation must restore basic dignity and respect for the millions of American workers who are the foundation of our economy.”

    NCLR will also announce a new partnership with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the branch of the U.S. Department of Labor that sets and enforces standards for safe and healthful working conditions. According to OSHA, Latinos have the highest rate of fatal workplace injuries. The alliance with OSHA will enable NCLR and its Affiliates to raise awareness about OSHA’s rulemaking and enforcement initiatives, and to offer outreach and training opportunities in Latino communities.

    “Through our alliance with OSHA, we hope to support NCLR’s community-based Affiliates in their efforts to advocate for and empower victims of work-related injuries or illnesses,” said Rodriguez.


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    Jennifer Occean
    (202) 776-1732

    Houston—The KIPP Houston High School Escalera Scholars Program is pleased to announce that 100 percent of the program’s participating class will graduate on Tuesday, May 31 at 6:30 p.m. The program, which receives funding from Houston-based Shell Oil Company, will celebrate 25 students who have successfully earned a high school diploma and completed the NCLR (National Council of La Raza) Escalera Program: Taking Steps to Success.

    The NCLR Escalera Program was founded in 2001 as a national after-school program promoting economic mobility for Latino youth. The program aims to increase educational achievement and career planning by providing opportunities for students to access resources and achieve educational goals. Students are eligible to enroll in the Escalera Program during the second semester of their junior year and must work toward a high school diploma or GED, complete a minimum of 80 hours of work or internship experience, and start the enrollment process for a postsecondary institution. All 25 Escalera Program students at KIPP have been accepted to college.

    “Shell believes in giving back to the community by partnering with youth development programs, such as the Escalera Scholars program,” Brian Hall, Shell Oil Company Supplier Diversity & Outreach Specialist, said. “We are a proud sponsor of the Escalera Program at KIPP Houston High School, and we are delighted when our employees show their commitment as mentors to the students, thereby prepping them for both college and career success.”

    Shell Oil Company has been a strong supporter of the Escalera Program over the past three years. The Shell/NCLR Escalera Program partnership connects students with members of the Shell Hispanic Employee Network (SHEN), who provide mentoring, hands-on learning, career speakers, and internship opportunities. Retired Shell Oil Engineer Paul Spicer and his wife Kathy are mainstays of the mentoring program—they have devoted countless hours to serving the program since its inception. An annual $500 scholarship named in their honor, the Paul and Kathy Spicer Above and Beyond Scholarship will be awarded to a graduating KIPP Houston High School Escalera Program senior for outstanding commitment and persistence to succeeding against all odds. For more information on NCLR’s Escalera Program, please visit .


    WHO:      Mike Feinberg, KIPP Co-Founder and Superintendent, KIPP Houston

    WHAT:    Class of 2011 KIPP Houston High School Escalera Program graduation ceremony

    WHEN:    May 31, 2011, 6:30 p.m.

    WHERE:  KIPP Houston High School
                   10711 Kipp Way
                   Houston, TX 77099

    CONTACT: To interview a KIPP Houston High School Escalera Program student, please contact Felicia Medellin





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    Mexicans account for largest population in 40 states and Central and South American populations doubled in size.

    Earlier this month, we told you about the recent Census data showing the population boom in the Latino Community. The figures showed that the Hispanic population grew by about 15 million between 2000 and 2010. Latinos now make up 16% of the population and 23% of the under-18 population. Perhaps the most interesting fact is that the Latino community overall grew at four times the nation’s 9.7% growth rate.

    In a follow-up to that data today, the Census released a much anticipated brief, The Hispanic Population: 2010, which goes into greater detail about the makeup of the largest minority group in the country, including fascinating information about the regions in the country that have experienced the most growth. NCLR has always believed that growth in the Hispanic community is good for our country. Hispanics make up a young and vibrant group that contributes to our nation’s economy through hard work and entrepreneurship. They are active participants in our nation’s social and civic life as voters, members of the armed services, and community leaders. Today’s report also shows that this community has also become more ethnically and geographically diverse with each passing year.  

    Some highlights from the brief:

    • The Hispanic population that identified as Mexican increased by 54%, growing from 20.6 million in 2000 to 31.8 million in 2010.
    • The Mexican population had the largest numeric change of all the Latino origin groups, and accounted for 75% of all growth in the Hispanic population from 2000 to 2010. 
    • The Puerto Rican population grew by 36%, increasing from 3.4 million to 4.6 million. 
    • The Cuban population increased by 44%, growing from 1.2 million to 1.8 million.
    • The Central and South American population both doubled in size. The Central American population grew by 137%, led by growth in the Honduran (191%), Guatemalan (180%), and Salvadoran (151%) populations. Salvadorans are the largest Central American group, at 1.6 million, and making up 3.3% of the total Hispanic population.

    The breakdown of the Hispanic population by origin is: 

    • Mexican (63%)
    • Puerto Rican (9.2%)
    • Cuban (3.5%)
    • Dominican (2.8%)
    • Central American, excluding Mexican (7.9%)
    • South American (5.5%)
    • Spaniard (1.3%)
    • All other Hispanic (6.8%)

    NCLR has also developed some cool interactive maps that also reflect this data. There are two maps to choose from. 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. Click on the image below to get started. 

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

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    We are delighted to feature a guest blog post from our NCLR Affiliate, Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation.

    By Lowell Herschberger, Director of Career and Education Programs 

    The young person sighed as the teacher emphatically tried to communicate his point. The student’s body language reflected disenfranchisement and disconnection. Attempts to “get the point across” only resulted in a further negative reactions by the student. Was this just another classroom management issue? It sure looked like it. Everyone knew the script—we’ve seen it before. A student acts out, and then there are disciplinary measures followed by a lost opportunity for the young person.

    Fortunately for everyone, the young person was participating in a program at Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation (CHLDC), an organization built on grassroots leadership development. The young adult was in Youth Build Cypress Hills, a green jobs training program for students who have dropped out of high school. The traditional educational pathways had been ineffective, and a new approach was needed. This green jobs training program consists of 28 weeks of training involving a time split between 50% GED instruction, 40% construction/green jobs training, and 10% leadership development.

    At that moment, the CHLDC teacher called a time out. Rather than brush off the incident or simply manage the behavior, he began to dig deeper to find a solution. He used a technique called “unpacking the message within the message.” The technique focuses on asking questions of participants to identify the real message about what bothers them, not punishing the behavior.

    The idea of solving problems by listening and learning is not new. In the book Learning as a Way of Leading: Lessons from the Struggle for Social Justice, Stephen Preskill and Stephen Brookfield describe how one can lead by listening. They offer numerous examples of how the most effective leadership can actually occur by asking questions. Questions empower the group and recognize the fact that solutions are not imposed by the expert (a position of power) but are created from within the group. By carefully asking questions and listening, a leader can equalize the power dynamic and promote grassroots solutions. This happens when we stop long enough to unpack the message within the message.

    The intervention is based on the notion that most conflict results from a failure to listen to all of the messages involved in a given communication. This approach is particularly helpful when the underlying core values of the speaker and the listener are in agreement, as in the case of youth development staff and young adult participants.

    Here is how it works. Posted on the wall are five questions to ask about every communication:

    1. What did the speaker say?
    2. What did the speaker intend to say?
    3. What did the listener hear?
    4. What did the listener understand the speaker to mean?
    5. What past experiences influenced the meaning?

    During an interaction, anyone can call a “time out,” at which time the communication is unpacked starting in the middle with question 3. By starting with the listener, the facilitator immediately values the perception of the listener and solicits him as a problem solver. The facilitator then proceeds to questions 4 and 5 to hear out the listener and put words to the nonverbal reaction by the listener. Question 5 is particularly helpful as youth begin to see how history impacts communication. One youth said, “For a second, you reminded me of the guards when I was upstate. They used to yell at us.” This youth’s candid reflection was invaluable to the staff because nothing could be further from their intentions!

    Finally, the teacher returned to question 2. Inevitably, his intentions were good, though misunderstood. Having had plenty of time to reflect on what he heard, the young adult is ready to entertain this new intention behind the communication. When the listener feels fully heard and the intentions are seen to be good, the original message as revealed in question 1 becomes clear and the situation is resolved. Most importantly, the listener is empowered by the process of having a real conversation that is not characterized by one-sided, power-laden messages. Rather, a true dialogue occurs and mutual understanding is created.

    It is this grassroots approach that permeates through CHLDC’s history, a history created by local residents and merchants in 1983, after a period of rapid neighborhood change. Long-time residents of Cypress Hills in Brooklyn, New York had moved out, stores along the commercial strip closed, and banks decided that the community was not a place to do business. In addition to developing a building for Cypress Hills Community School, an alternative public school that was co-founded with local parents, CHLDC also founded Cypress Hills Collegiate Prep, an alternative public high school that opened in 2006 and assists parents and teen groups in organizing to improve local public schools and help local businesses grow and connect residents with public benefits. CHLDC offers recreational, educational, and vocational services for youth, adult education, family counseling, and college counseling. The Cypress Hills Child Care Corporation runs a family day care network, an in-home Head Start program, and a day care center.

    CHLDC’s mission is to revitalize the Cypress Hills community through housing preservation, economic development, and the positive development of youth and families. CHLDC serves 8,000 residents per year with affordable housing and helps owners and renters fix up their homes. CHLDC educates and counsels first-time homebuyers and organizes tenant associations. In the construction component of the green jobs training program, participants receive weatherization training from the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), the Roots of Success Environmental Literacy Curriculum, the Sherwin-Williams Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program, the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Core Craft Curriculum, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 30-hour training. This mix of introductory training, coupled with positive communication skills, enables participants to enter the workforce or make a meaningful decision about what sort of advanced training they might pursue. Together, CHLDC’s programs strengthen the area’s physical and economic infrastructure, providing quality educational and social services and fostering local leaders.

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  • 06/03/11--07:30: Voices for the Voiceless
  • Most special interest groups can organize themselves and make sure that elected officials hear their voices on the policy issues they care about most. One group, however, stands out for being vital to our nation’s future, yet lacks the resources and power to weigh in on the issues that affect them every day and shape their future—children.

    While many government agencies and nonprofit organizations work to advance programs and policies in education, health care, and other areas in order to help children grow up in healthy, safe communities, Hispanic children and youth, who are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, are still being left behind. The reality is that Latino children require a special focus, and last week, NCLR elevated the work that we do on their behalf by bringing together experts and community leaders to create a Latino child advocacy network.

    This first step to creating the network started in Washington, DC with a two-day convening hosted by NCLR titled “Building a Brighter Future: Working Together for Latino Children and Youth.” Participants learned about the political and social policy climate for Latino children across all levels of government from the National League of Cities, the White House Domestic Policy Council, and Sen. Jeff Bingaman’s office (D–NM). Dr. Martha Moorehouse from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services gave an overview of the myriad youth outreach activities taking place within her agency, and Josephine Garza from the National Latino Children’s Institute provided the nonprofit perspective on child advocacy.

    Check out our short slideshow of the event!

    The keynote speaker, Rep. Chaka Fattah (D–PA), summed up the situation: “Our nation’s future is inextricably entwined with the life chances of our children.” Poor children in our nation tend to get the least of what they need to do well in school, and child advocates should remain focused on what works so that all children can get the best education possible—qualified teachers, reasonable class sizes, and a rigorous curriculum, said Rep. Fattah.

    Throughout the convening, Rep. Fattah’s words were echoed by many who brought their own experiences to the discussion of what Hispanic children and their families need for a bright future. Questions were raised about how to align policy priorities, for example, to help achieve a national goal of all children reading at grade level in third grade by 2015. The Obama administration wants to make our nation the leader in the number of college graduates by 2020, yet only 12 percent of today’s Latinos earn bachelor’s degrees; this contrast amply illustrates how far we must go to achieve educational parity.

    Something must change if we truly intend to achieve these goals. Creating a Latino child advocacy network is one way that experts, educators, and community leaders can come together to share information and work collectively to make sure that all children in our nation can excel in the 21st century. 

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    Last year, you fought to ensure that our leaders created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)—the first entity solely devoted to fighting financial crime on behalf of American families. In its developmental stages, the CFPB has already stood up on issues that are important to Latino consumers, such as new ways to make lending terms clearer and commonsense remittance disclosures that plainly detail fees.

    Critical among the strong points of this unique bureau is that it will be led by one director. This is essential. As we know, spreading authority over a committee often bloats bureaucracy and weakens performance.

    Professor Elizabeth Warren, an avid consumer advocate, is the frontrunner for being appointed as Director of the CFPB. Warren has a long history of fighting for consumers. She has made frequent site visits throughout the nation—including to NCLR’s Affiliates—to assess the fallout of the economic crisis. She knows how our families struggle. However, petty politics is rearing its ugly head once again, and some members of Congress are trying to weaken the CFPB’s influence by denying Warren’s appointment and maintaining the status quo.

    Ask your senator to support Elizabeth Warren so American families can finally pull their heads above water!  

    Make sure your senator knows that you expect strong leadership in these tough times and you will not stand for petty politics that accomplishes nothing.

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  • 06/06/11--08:37: Refocusing Our Priorities
  • By Delia Pompa, Senior Vice President, Programs

    There was a time in this country when investing in kids was not only the right thing to do—it was also an easy decision to make. Deficits, debt, inflation, recession, and other economic challenges have always been part of our national discourse, but we’ve never skimped on a high-quality education for our nation. We’re now in danger of making that mistake.

    Unfortunately, in this austere economic climate, education spending is often characterized as a frivolous use of taxpayer dollars that flies in the face of limited government and prevents communities from exerting local control. A quick survey of the news from various state governments confirms the national mood over which of our priorities to fund. Consider Texas, for example, where the legislature is about to slash $4 billion from school districts all over the state. Or Michigan, where the new governor, Rick Snyder, has proposed cutting millions from the state’s public education system. The situation there has become so severe that one school superintendent proposed turning his schools into prisons so that his students might benefit from the same amenities offered to inmates. His version of Jonathan Swift’s Modest Proposal is tongue-in-cheek, of course, but his actions underscore a very real sentiment about the future of public education in America.

    Given the mood in state legislatures to gut public education, it was somewhat of a surprise, albeit a welcome one, when President Obama announced recently that his administration would invest $500 million in early childhood education with another round of Race to the Top early learning challenge grants. A good early childhood education sets the foundation for the rest of a child’s life and the Latino community especially benefits from quality early childhood education programs. However, states still have a long way to go. Latino children now constitute almost 24% of the child population in America under the age of five and are the fastest-growing subgroup of children. Yet Hispanic children are least able to access formal early care and education programs and have low levels of school readiness. In addition, it is not clear that Latino students are benefiting from the administration’s signature education policy, the first round of Race to the Top funding, when one considers that the states with large numbers of Latino students, including Texas, California, Illinois, and New Jersey, have not received funding to support needed education reforms. These new grants must be designed in a way to reach children in those states.

    Our country may be mired in fights over deficit reduction, but when it comes to early childhood education, the administration has made clear its commitment and should be commended for it. There is an opportunity to do some very good work, especially for Latinos, but it must be done right in order to maximize potential. NCLR has laid out some critical recommendations for doing this in our white paper, Responding to the Needs of Young Latino Children: State Efforts to Build Comprehensive Learning Systems, which should be applied as criteria for states that receive Race to the Top funds. Those include requiring states to improve services provided to young English language learners and incentivizing states to do right by and for Hispanic children and families.

    This was originally published on the National Journal's "Ask the Experts" Education blog.

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    During a visit to Ellis Island last week, Sarah Palin, who made the famed immigration entry point a stop on her One Nation bus tour, expounded on immigration and praised the contributions that immigrants have made to our country. Yet in the very next breath, Ms. Palin criticized the “DREAM Act,” saying it would upend that process by allowing students to be granted automatic citizenship. Watch her remarks below.

    Sarah Palin In Jersey City:

    Palin couldn’t be further from the truth in her understanding of the “DREAM Act.” In fact, the act would do the exact opposite of what she suggests. Under the provisions of the “DREAM Act,” applicants who have grown up in the United States would be required to either attend college or serve in the military after they graduate from high school in the U.S. and undergo background checks in order to eventually obtain permanent status and become eligible for U.S. citizenship. That is hardly “usurping” the process, as she mentions in the video. To set the record straight, MSNBC’s The Ed Show recently featured NCLR’s Director of Immigration and National Campaigns, Clarissa Martínez-de-Castro. She commented on Sarah Palin’s remarks and talked about the potential consequences for Republican and Democratic candidates for office who plan on towing the anti-immigrant line. Check out the video below.

    Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


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    Joseph Rendeiro
    (202) 776-1566


    Washington, D.C.—Homeownership is the cornerstone of the American Dream, but as the U.S. observes National Homeownership Month this June, far too many Americans are seeing their visions of ownership or affordable renting slip away. With more Americans falling out of the middle class every day and workers struggling to support their families and keep their jobs, the American Dream is increasingly at risk. The obstacles are especially high and unequal for Latinos, African Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, women, the elderly and working-class families. For example, one in six Latino and one in nine African American homeowners are at imminent risk of losing their homes or have already lost their homes to foreclosure. But clear solutions do exist, and it is time for the Obama administration and Congress to step up their efforts in specific ways.

    Today, seven national civil rights and advocacy organizations―NCLR (National Council of La Raza), NAACP, National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD), National People’s Action, National Urban League, The Opportunity Agenda, and PICO National Network―are coming together to call on Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner and other leaders in Congress to put an end to the housing crisis and begin restoring the American Dream for all Americans. Together these organizations offer the following statement:

    “In honor of Homeownership Month, we urge Secretary Geithner to put our nation’s housing crisis back on the national agenda. The nation’s economic recovery relies heavily on stabilizing the housing market. We will not achieve this goal so long as families continue to experience wrongful foreclosures and sustainable homeownership opportunities are cut off for the next generation. As the Department of Treasury and other federal bank regulators consider policies that will shape the future home-lending market, they must prioritize solutions to foreclosure, end discrimination, invest in affordable housing, and protect the American Dream of homeownership.”

    The seven partners are urging members of their communities to text HOME or HOGAR (for Spanish) to 62571 to be patched through to Secretary Geithner and deliver this message.

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    Joseph Rendeiro
    (202) 776-1566

    Telephonic press conference examines the need for housing counseling and foreclosure solutions

    Washington, D.C.—NCLR (National Council of La Raza) will hold a telephonic press conference on Wednesday, June 8 to discuss recent efforts undertaken by the Home for Good campaign to protect the American Dream of homeownership. NCLR will be joined by representatives from leading civil rights and advocacy organizations—the National Urban League, NAACP, and the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development—who joined the campaign to address problems in the housing market that have stymied neighborhood revitalization and led to communities of color, working families, and seniors losing their homes to foreclosure.

    NCLR has begun ramping up efforts as the country recognizes National Homeownership Month this June. The press conference coincides with a call to action from NCLR and partners that encourages supporters to call on Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner to stop unnecessary foreclosures and protect affordable housing and home loans. The Home for Good campaign will launch an 800 number connecting callers to Geithner’s office.


    WHO:      - Janis Bowdler, Director, Wealth-Building Policy Project, NCLR
                   - Cy Richardson, Vice President of Housing and Community Development, National Urban League
                   - Hilary Shelton, Washington Bureau Director and Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy, NAACP
                   - Jane Duong, Housing Program Manager, National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development

    WHAT:    Home for Good Telephonic Press Conference

    WHEN:    Wednesday, June 8, 2011, 1:00 p.m. EDT

    HOW:      Call: 1-800-862-9098

    Conference Title: “Home for Good”

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    Joseph Rendeiro
    (202) 776-1566

    Telephonic press conference examines the need for housing counseling and foreclosure solutions

    Washington, D.C.—In today’s volatile housing market, millions of Americans, including communities of color, working families, and seniors, are facing the harsh reality that they can no longer afford their homes. But in the face of these dire economic conditions, NCLR (National Council of La Raza) and six other leading civil rights and advocacy organizations—NAACP, National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (CAPACD), National People’s Action (NPA), National Urban League (NUL), The Opportunity Agenda, and PICO—are partnering in a call to action under NCLR’s Home for Good campaign to protect the American Dream of homeownership.

    As Americans observe National Homeownership Month this June, NCLR’s Home for Good campaign is intensifying its calls for the Obama administration and Congress to address problems in the housing market that have stymied neighborhood revitalization and led to Americans losing their homes to foreclosure. Today, NCLR and its partners will send out an action alert inviting advocates in their individual networks to call on Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner to stop unnecessary foreclosures and protect affordable housing and home loans. The seven partners are urging members of their communities to text HOME or HOGAR (for Spanish) to 62571 to be patched through to Secretary Geithner and deliver this message.

    “The housing crisis is still far from over and as a result, our national housing policy is at a crossroads. We are calling on the Treasury Department and other policy makers to keep the dream of homeownership alive for the next generation,” said Janet Murguía, President and CEO of NCLR. “Doing so means resolving the foreclosure crisis, especially for the unemployed, and ensuring that all qualified borrowers can get a responsible home loan now and in the future.”

    Janis Bowdler, Director of the Wealth Building Project at NCLR, will host a telephonic press briefing today with Hilary Shelton, Washington Bureau Director and Senior Vice President for Advocacy, NAACP; Cy Richardson, Vice President, NUL; and Jane Duong, Housing Program Manager, National CAPACD. These representatives from our various partners will address the critical issues within the housing market that are costing so many Americans their homes and discuss how to best craft housing finance reform that keeps safe homeownership available.

    To participate in today’s telephonic press conference at 1:00 p.m. EDT, please call (800) 862-9098 and use the program title—“Home for Good”—to check in.

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    Natural disasters, a foreclosure crisis, and a soft housing market have not been able to alter the firmly held tenet that homeownership is the cornerstone of the American Dream. June is National Homeownership Month and serves as a call to action for our nation’s leaders, who must reaffirm their commitment to sustainable homeownership and affordable rental homes near good schools and quality jobs. With our national housing policy at a crossroads, the ability of the next generation to enjoy the benefits of owning their own home―such as by steadily accumulating a nest egg that they can share with their children―may disappear.

    This is no time to stay silent. As part of the Home for Good campaign, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) is urging supporters to call U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner this week and show their support for a renewed effort to solve the housing crisis. Over the summer months, the Treasury and other bank regulators will make critical decisions that have a lasting impact on the housing market. Members of the community, we invite you to tell our leaders that they must do more to stop unnecessary foreclosures―especially for the unemployed―and preserve affordable housing and home loans. We are also pleased to be joined in this call to action by six national partners: The Opportunity Agenda, National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development, PICO, National People’s Action, National Urban League, and the NAACP.

    Today is your opportunity to join thousands of concerned Americans from throughout the country who are committed to the American Dream. Click here to call.

    Ask Secretary Geithner to:

    Stop wrongful foreclosures—they only exacerbate the problem. Foreclosing on a property benefits neither the homeowner nor the surrounding community.

    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.

    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. 

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    Kathy Mimberg
    (202) 776-1714

    Entre las veinticinco organizaciones sin fines de lucro más destacadas de esta nación, la revista Hispanic Business nombra a doce de las organizaciones afiliadas al NCLR

    Washington, D.C. —El Consejo Nacional de La Raza (NCLR) desea felicitar a las doce organizaciones afiliadas que forman parte del grupo de veinticinco organizaciones Hispanas de mayor impacto en la nación. Estas organizaciones fueron escogidas por la revista Hispanic Business en base a sus ingresos anuales, y los servicios que ofrecen a la población latina de los Estados Unidos.

    "Nos sentimos sumamente orgullosos de que casi la mitad de las organizaciones que figuran en esta lista sean entes afiliadas al NCLR. Esto resalta la excelente labor que estas instituciones están llevando a cabo", dijo José Velázquez, vicepresidente de Servicios a Organizaciones Afiliadas del NCLR. "Estas instituciones figuran entre las mejores en nuestro país y desempeñan un papel clave en la comunidad latina".

    En el primer lugar de la lista figura AltaMed Health Services Corporation, una organización que desde 1969 provee servicios de salud en el área este de Los Ángeles. Siguiendo el orden de la lista figuraron las siguientes: Mexican American Opportunity Foundation en Montebello, California; Southwest Key Programs en Austin, Texas; La Clínica de la Raza en Oakland, California; San Ysidro Health Center en San Ysidro, California; Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc. en Phoenix, Arizona; Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Inc. en Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; The Unity Council en Oakland, California; United Community/Centro de la Comunidad Unida en Milwaukee, Wisconsin; HELP-New Mexico, Inc. en Albuquerque, New Mexico; Latin American Youth Center en Washington, DC, y la Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha, Inc. en Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

    Estas organizaciones prestan servicios especializados que incluyen: cuidado de la salud, desarrollo comunitario, educación y capacitación laboral, cuidado de niños y ancianos, servicios para jóvenes, y programas recreativos y culturales, y otros campos afines. La red de organizaciones afiliadas al NCLR incluye casi 300 organizaciones comunitarias que proveen servicios directos a más de cinco millones de hispanos anualmente.

    "Dada la crisis presupuestaria nacional y los retos económicos que las organizaciones sin fines de lucro han tenido que enfrentar este año, este logro es realmente impresionante", agregó Velázquez. "No sólo celebramos a doce instituciones afiliadas al Consejo Nacional de la Raza por este reconocimiento, sino que también por primera vez las veinticinco organizaciones latinas alcanzaron un total de ingresos de $1 mil millones de dólares".

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    Jennifer Occean
    (202) 776-1732


    Hispanic Business magazine includes 12 NCLR Affiliates among its top 25 nonprofits

    Washington, D.C.—In light of Hispanic Business magazine’s annual listing of the top 25 nonprofit organizations serving the Latino community in the United States, NCLR (National Council of La Raza) offers special congratulations to the 12 groups on the list that are part of the NCLR Affiliate Network. In the magazine’s recent issue, it ranked the 25 Hispanic nonprofits on the basis of annual expenditures, and it surveyed each of them about their revenues and services to provide a snapshot of the top charitable organizations serving the growing U.S. Latino population.

    “We are honored that nearly half of the entries on the list are part of the NCLR Affiliate Network, which speaks volumes about the outstanding work that is being done by our member organizations,” said José Velázquez, NCLR’s Vice President of Affiliate Member Services. “They are among the best service providers in the nation and play a critical role in the Latino community.”

    At the top of the list is AltaMed Health Services Corporation, which has provided comprehensive health care services in East Los Angeles since 1969. The other NCLR Affiliates on the top 25 nonprofits list—in the order in which they appear—are Mexican American Opportunity Foundation in Montebello, Calif.; Southwest Key Programs in Austin, Texas; La Clínica de la Raza in Oakland, Calif.; San Ysidro Health Center in San Ysidro, Calif.; Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc. in Phoenix, Ariz.; Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Inc. in Philadelphia, Pa.; The Unity Council in Oakland, Calif.; United Community Center/Centro de la Comunidad Unida in Milwaukee, Wis.; HELP–New Mexico, Inc. in Albuquerque, N.M.; Latin American Youth Center in Washington, D.C.; and Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha, Inc. in Philadelphia, Pa.

    The community services provided by these organizations include health care, neighborhood development, education and job training, elder and child care, youth services, counseling, recreational and cultural programs, and more. The NCLR Affiliate Network includes nearly 300 community-based organizations that provide direct services that reach more than five million Hispanic Americans each year.

    “Given the tight budgets and economic challenges that nonprofit organizations have confronted this year, this achievement is truly remarkable,” added Velázquez. “Not only did 12 NCLR Affiliates receive this honor, but the top 25 organizations reached $1 billion in total revenue for the very first time.”


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