Impact Reports

Latina Total Wellbeing

2016

There are more than 700,000 Latinos in Washington (12% of the total population) and more than 71,000 in Snohomish County (9.5% of the total population). First-generation immigrant Latinos face multiple challenges to operate in an unfamiliar and sometimes hostile “system.” Some challenges include language and cultural barriers, health disparities, low educational achievement, under-banking, lack of awareness and access to services and resources available to them, and discrimination. Furthermore, our experience suggests that Latina women are at an even greater disadvantage, in part because they tend to be more isolated since they often stay at home caring for their small children, have a lower level of literacy/education, and confront the “macho” culture of some male household members.

There are more than 700,000 Latinos in Washington (12% of the total population) and more than 71,000 in Snohomish County (9.5% of the total population). First-generation immigrant Latinos face multiple challenges to operate in an unfamiliar and sometimes hostile “system.” Some challenges include language and cultural barriers, health disparities, low educational achievement, under-banking, lack of awareness of and access to available services and resources, and discrimination. Furthermore, our experience suggests that Latina women are at an even greater disadvantage, in part because they tend to be more isolated since they often stay at home caring for their small children, have a lower level of literacy/education, and confront the “macho” culture of some male household members.

The Latino Community Studies and Outreach program (LCSO) at Washington State University Extension, partnering with the Latino Educational and Training Institute (LETI), a nonprofit serving the Latino community in Lynwood, WA, established the Bienestar Total de la Mujer Latina (Latina Total Wellbeing) project. With seed funding from United Way Snohomish County obtained by LCSO, the Latina Total Wellbeing project provided assistance and support to Latina women with information on health and mental healthcare, health insurance plans, entrepreneurship, financial literacy, school and college education, healthy and active living, stress reduction, and cooperatives. We developed a series of 8 Spanish-language workshops, one per week for 2-3 hours each, in which 20-25 women participated regularly in 2015. LCSO program leader Dr. José García-Pabón and LETI executive director Rosario Reyes planned and organized the topics after consultation with Latino community leaders. Speakers made presentations, and materials and information were distributed. Additional resources and services were discussed. To promote attendance, childcare was provided and all attendees received a certificate of participation. Latina women with 100% attendance were awarded gift baskets.

Enthusiasm grew rapidly among the participants, who by word of mouth brought more women to the workshops. Toward the end of the series, the classroom filled beyond capacity. The Latina women became more empowered as a result of the workshops. For instance, they took the lead and organized a potluck for their graduation ceremony, in which they received their certificate of attendance and a gift basket. In a session on education with the local school superintendent, they grilled him with questions and comments about issues impacting their children.

In an on-site debriefing, participants indicated they feel more comfortable talking to their children’s school teachers and counselors; they plan to enroll their families in the Affordable Care Act insurance plan; and they plan to attend English classes at the local community college. Additionally, they signed up for a variety of other classes including small-business development, financial literacy, and GED preparation. Approximately 24 hours of instruction were provided and many more hours of one-on-one personal coaching occurred with Rosario Reyes, Dr. José García-Pabón, and volunteers.

Due to the success of the workshops, LETI, with the cooperation of LCSO, repeated the series three times in 2016 with additional funding obtained by LETI from the Hazel Miller Foundation. The response was positive and now an increasing number of Latina women are enrolling in other classes and showing interest in topics related to cooperatives, mortgages, credit and financing to buy a car, starting a small business, and more. We plan to conduct a follow-up evaluation in the summer and fall of 2016 with former Bienestar Total de la Mujer Latina participants. Given the success of the program in meeting the needs of Latina women in Lynwood, we see similar efforts from Extension educators occurring in Yakima and Pasco. In addition, we plan to continue the series in Lynwood and expand to other rural locations in Snohomish and Skagit Counties.  Our long-term goal is to provide training and empowerment opportunities to immigrant women, Latinas, and other disadvantaged communities throughout the state.

  • 358 participants (356 women and 2 men) attended one of 5 eight-week series in 2015 and 2016.
  • 100% of participants expressed interest in learning English.
  • About 50% want to learn more about starting a small business.
  • About 80% are interested in financial support (grants, loans) for a potential small business.
  • 8 women enrolled in GED classes as a result of the workshops.
  • 32 women enrolled in financial education classes.
  • 34 women enrolled in First Steps Series, a business development course through the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship at Pinchot University.
  • 15 women have completed the First Steps Series and have enrolled in the Access to Capital workshop through MercyCorp.
  • 3 women attended a 4-H activity and are interested in enrolling their kids in 4-H.

“I had a difficult time, but this program helped me to grow as a woman and I can help other women now.”

“We live in a world of ignorance and with these classes we learned to have a better life, and now I can help others who are going through difficult times.”

“Here I learned about fraud; some people cheat us and take advantage of us and we do not use the opportunities to learn like this one when we have the time. There is childcare here and it is in our language. What else can we ask for?”

For more information, please contact Jose Garcia-Pabon, Latino Community Studies and Outreach,
600 128th St. SE, Everett, WA 98208,  (425) 357-6008, or garciajl@wsu.edu.

SR 530 Landslide Commission

2016

In July 2014 Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Snohomish County Executive John Lovick appointed a joint commission to assess the response to the March 2014 SR 530 landslide that took the lives of 43 people in the Stillaguamish Valley. The SR 530 Landslide Commission was tasked with reviewing the emergency response to the slide and identifying lessons learned and policy recommendations to help make Washington safer and enhance the ability to respond to similar events.

In July 2014 Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Snohomish County Executive John Lovick appointed a joint commission to assess the response to the March 2014 SR 530 Landslide that took the lives of 43 people in the Stillaguamish Valley. The SR 530 Landslide Commission was tasked with reviewing the emergency response to the slide and identifying lessons learned and policy recommendations to help make Washington safer and enhance the ability to respond to similar events. The William D. Ruckelshaus Center (Ruckelshaus Center) and WSU Division of Governmental Studies and Services (DGSS) facilitated the Commission.

In July 2014 The Ruckelshaus Center met with representatives from  Governor Inslee’s and County Executive Lovick’s offices to better understand goals and expected outcomes of the anticipated Commission, develop a scope of work, and assemble a facilitation team. DGSS Director Mike Gaffney and Ruckelshaus Center Project and Research Specialist Amanda Murphy served as co-facilitators to the Commission. Governor Inslee and County Executive Lovick asked regional business leader Kathy Lombardo to serve as executive director of the Commission. The Commission operated independently, and did not examine liability, cause or fault, or act as a substitute for the courts in any way.

Between August and December 2014, the Ruckelshaus Center and DGSS facilitated 11 meetings of the Commission, helping it reach consensus on 17 recommendations and produce a final report for the governor and county executive. The Commission identified three recommendations as critical first steps: 1) more mapping of potential hazards areas; 2) better funding and integration of the state’s emergency management system; and 3) more clarity to laws for mobilizing first responders.

The Commission submitted its final report to Governor Inslee and County Executive Lovick on December 15, 2014. Those leaders, as well as legislators, members of the affected communities, and the media praised the report. Following release of the report, Governor Inslee announced he would include as part of his transportation investment package $36 million for hazard mapping and landslide mitigation measures. The governor also has set aside money in his proposed operating budget for a Hazard Identification Institute, which would be a repository for geological hazard information in the state of Washington.

In February 2015, the National Research Council Board on Earth Sciences convened a workshop of landslide and risk experts at the University of Washington to examine progress in reducing landslide risk. Speakers from several state and county agencies provided their perspectives on landslide hazards programs and emphasized the need for the application of new technologies (e.g. lidar and InSAR) in Washington to support land-use planning and zoning for landslide hazards.

State lawmakers worked to enact recommendations made by the commission. The Senate and House unanimously approved a bill (SB 5088) to allow the Department of Natural Resources to develop a database of lidar maps of landslide-prone areas in the state. The bill, signed by the governor on April 17, represents one of the first major policy changes inspired by the recommendations of the Landslide Commission. The Senate and House also passed a bill (HB 1389) clarifying that under the state’s fire service mobilization law, firefighting resources can be mobilized for non-fire emergencies.

  • 12 members appointed to the commission.
  • 11 meetings held.
  • 17 recommendations developed by commission.
  • Legislation (SB 5088) passed and signed by Governor Inslee provides $4.6 million to the Department of Natural Resources to develop a database of lidar maps of landslide-prone areas.
  • Legislation (HB 1389) passed and signed, clarifies the state’s fire service mobilization law.

“On behalf of all Washingtonians I want to thank the members and staff of SR 530 Landslide Commission for their dedication and hard work on this very important effort. … The commission did its work in a thoughtful, fair, compassionate and transparent way and produced a report of important recommendations. The work of the commission will help make us all safer in the future.” – Washington State Governor Jay Inslee

“It wasn’t just a commission going through a bunch of policies and coming up with recommendations. We really tried to understand the heartbreak and the human conditions. It was very humbling for me, personally.” – SR 530 Landslide Commissioner Bill Trimm (Mudslide Report Offers Ideas to be Ready for Next Disaster, 12/15/14 HeraldNet)

“On behalf of myself and the community of Darrington, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.” – Darrington Town Councilman Kevin Ashe, in remarks to the SR 530 Landslide Commission. (Panel investigating Oso lessons needs more time, 12/3/14 HeraldNet)

For more information, please contact William D. Ruckelshaus Center, PO Box 646248, Pullman WA 99164-6248, call: 509-335-2937 or 901 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2900, Seattle, WA 98164, call: 206-428-3021. You also may contact the Division of Governmental Studies and Services, PO Box 6233, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-5131, call: 509-335-3329.

For more information on the William D. Ruckelshaus Center, please visit http://ruckelshauscenter.wsu.edu/. For more information on the Division of Government Studies and Services, please visit http://dgss.wsu.edu/.

Latino Leadership Initiative

2016

Washington and other western states have experienced a rapid increase in their Latino populations in the past few decades. Washington’s Latino population is now 12%, and they are young, averaging 24 years old (versus an average of 36 years old among the White population). Despite their population growth, younger age, and visibility, Latinos lag behind all groups in civic participation and leadership roles in Washington State.

Washington and other western states have experienced a rapid increase in their Latino populations in the past few decades. Washington’s Latino population is now 12%, and they are young, averaging 24 years old (versus an average of 36 years old among the White population). Despite their population growth, younger age, and visibility, Latinos lag behind all groups in civic participation and leadership roles in Washington. For example, in 2012 their registration and participation of eligible voters was only 48%, compared with 62% for the electorate as a whole.

In addition to low election participation, Latinos are largely underrepresented in leadership at all levels, even in places where Latinos represent a large percentage or the majority of the population. Consequences of this situation may include a diminishing democracy, a lack of voices for an important and increasingly large group of people at the discussion and decision table, and feelings of alienation. Ultimately, little or no civic engagement worsens their acculturation challenges and increases the risk of discrimination, separation, and exclusion. Tensions and misunderstandings can escalate, as well as resentment, hostility, animosity, and sometimes even hate crimes.

To combat this gap in Latino civic engagement in our communities, Washington State University Extension’s Latino Community Studies and Outreach Program partnered with three community colleges, the Latino Educational Training Institute, and other non-profit organizations. Together, they launched a new program called “Latino Leadership Initiative” (LLI) in 2012. LLI provides multicultural leadership training that targets Latino college students with an emphasis on multicultural skills and the Latino culture. LLI participants meet with trainers and seasoned leaders once a month for hands-on learning during an academic-year-long program. Students design and implement a community project related to education. The community project has given LLI students the opportunity to become mentors of middle and high school Latino students and helps them better understand the value of higher education and being prepared for college.

So far, more than 50 students have graduated from LLI and gone on to apply their leadership skills in their communities, schools, churches, and neighborhoods in Snohomish and Skagit Counties. LLI continues to receive the attention and recognition of elected officials at local and state levels, foundations, 4-year colleges, business leaders, and the media.

LLI graduates participate in a truly transformational experience beyond increasing their leadership skills. Their testimonies and involvement demonstrate how they developed higher self-esteem, and became more involved and caring about their communities and education. In two LLI focus groups, all participants indicated a commitment to complete college and increase their involvement as leaders. One student became president of the Latino/Hispanic student club at her community college, and another moved on to a four-year college and started organizing a similar student club. Another student accepted an internship with a non-profit organization where she can apply her leadership skills including event coordination and organization, public speaking, and communication with legislators. Partially due to her participation in the LLI she applied to and attended a Hispanic Latina leadership conference in Washington, D.C. This student worked for LLI and organized a major event almost entirely on her own. She indicated that she felt much more confident in her ability to accomplish the task thanks to her newly acquired skills from LLI. She went on to work for a Latina House Representative in the Washington Legislature and sees herself as potentially following the same path of political leadership.

Two LLI graduates acted as MCs for our latest gala and fundraising dinner with guests such as college presidents, non-profit leaders, and organization executive directors. Further, a middle school teacher presented testimony and shared his gratitude for LLI participants’ impact on his middle school Latino students, whose behavior changed drastically from “trouble makers” to being more engaged, earning better grades, and talking about college and their futures as professionals.

These new leaders continue to work with middle and high school Latino students who receive individual mentoring to help them succeed in school and be motivated to attend college. Additionally, they work toward decreasing the dropout rate among Latinos.

  • Three participating colleges in Skagit and Snohomish Counties.
  • Fifteen organizations collaborating with LLI including non-profits, economic development associations, foundations, local and state agencies, and businesses.
  • $50,000 budget for 2013-2015 funded entirely by donations and grants
  • Provided 40 hours leadership training.
  • Participants spent 200 hours planning and implementing group community projects.
  • 25 community mentors participated.

“LLI has liberated me from the torment of hiding who I am, and where I came from. It has empowered me to speak and behave with new meaning. A flame was lit inside me, giving me newfound strength, courage, passion and truth. I will continue to try to ignite leadership in other people.”

“This experience has changed my life and the things I learned will stay with me from now on forward. Since this experience changed my life, I hope that I can change others’ lives by teaching them what I learned from this great experience.”

For more information, contact Jose Garcia-Pabon, Latino Community Studies and Outreach
600 128th St. SE, Everett WA 98208 | 425-357-6008 or garciajl@wsu.edu.

For more information on the Latino Community Studies and Outreach initiative, please visit http://ext100.wsu.edu/latinocommunity/.