I think Centro is really poised to blossom and meet the many needs that are in the community and will be coming to the community," says Kent Craig, executive director of Centro Hispano.
"I think there's a lot of hope around the potential for immigration reform that could allow us to provide programming around many important areas like career pathways and housing.
"We're prepared to do those kind of things," Craig
"We have 30 years of experience and I think the organization has really matured to the point where it can grow and change and adapt and overcome whatever obstacles there might be."
is acknowledging those 30 years of service with a year of celebration, reflection, and planning for the future.
As part of this effort, Centro
will be hosting a 30 Year Campaign Kickoff and Mixer at Centro Hispano
on April 12 and will be embarking on a big fundraising campaign to help sustain Centro
in the coming years.
At the mixer, Centro
will be announcing details of its exciting $300,000 campaign to help ensure Centro Hispano
can thrive for another 30 years and beyond.
"Part of what we are raising around is investing in our operating reserves which helps stabilize any organization," Craig
"And we want to invest in this building which we own but we've never done a campaign to ask people to leave a legacy and to invest in this space.
That's what we'll be doing this year - giving people an opportunity to put a name on a tile or to name a room after themselves or their family or their business."
For 30 years, Centro Hispano
of Dane Country has existed to empower Latinos to be full and active participants in the community and to promote and preserve knowledge of and pride in Hispanic and Latino culture and heritage.
has administered numerous programs and cultural events over the past three decades, always with the goals of fostering hope, responsibility, and encouragement to the Latino community.
"We have definitely grown in our 30 years and we've grown to focus on more youth programs," Craig
"We are in the schools providing services [from] elementary through high school.
There's a wider array.
We have more staff involved."
A huge step in the maturation of Centro
was becoming the owner of an 18,000-square-foot facility at 810 West Badger Road in the heart of Madison's south side in 2006.
"That really changes what we can do at Centro
"Judith has been providing really solid leadership of our operations and programs since coming on board," Craig
"I think the direction that things are going right now is that any social impact organization is going to do a lot of work through collective impact," Craig
is really excited about the Caminos
Career Pathways program - a collaboration between Madison College, the Latino Academy, and Omega School
is also excited about the Escalera
program, an NCLR model that Centro
"It's been a shift from our old Aspira model that we had," he
"It's working with the same age group in the schools, but we're more focused on college prep and career aspiration and helping students finish high school and bridging that gap from high school to post-secondary."
has been collaborating with the United Way's Schools of Hope
in an effort to reduce the gap
in academic achievement.
"Schools of Hope became part of Centro
in 2011 and it really expanded our impact into the elementary schools," Craig
"It is vital in improving literacy at the elementary level."
does more and more collaboration and continues to grow innovative programming, fundraising will always be a challenge.
"The past few years have been tough for non-profits all around the country on meeting fund-raising goals.
We've been fortunate to have strong support from our local funders like the United Way and the City, County, and School District," Craig
"We've been able to secure some new sources through the National Council of La Raza
(NCLR) and some other things.
Still, as we try to grow and meet the needs of the community, we need to find new ways to connect people who want to support us - especially individuals in the community.
That's a very important source of revenue for any non-profit and we need to do a better job of connecting the individuals in the community who support our mission and want to be involved with what we're doing."
Some of that involves being better self-promoters.
"I think we have improved in that aspect," Craig
"I think we have raised the visibility of our work over the past few years.
We need to continue to do that."
's visibility is probably at its highest once a year when everything great that Centro does is highlighted at an elaborate gala - the Centro Hispano
The event is a chance to honor young Latino scholars with scholarships and to honor community members for their outstanding contributions.
It is also their biggest fundraiser and one of their high-profile events.
"The banquet keeps growing every year - this will be the 24th annual - and it's something that people really look forward to," Craig
"It's an event that we love and the community loves, too."
As the evolution of Centro
continues in order to meet the need of an ever-increasing Dane County Latino population, Craig
likes where the organization is headed.
has grown and evolved tremendously in three decades, its mission of empowering Latinos through quality social, educational, and cultural programs has always remained the same.
"I would like Centro to continue on the path that it's on.
We want to continue to develop as an organization and to increase its capacity to meet needs in the community and to adapt to those needs," Craig
"If we can get this space going to its full potential, it will open up a lot of programming activities for the community to be engaged in the organization.
"I really do like all of the people here that I get to work with every day and that includes the staff, the volunteers, the community, the people participating in our programs, and the board [of directors]," Craig