The NC Congress of Latino Organizations (NCCLO) was established in 2002 as a nonpartisan statewide entity for Spanish-speaking families to unite and develop the leadership needed to effectively address systemic problems in their communities. Since inception NCCLO has partnered with Latino religious congregations, nonprofits, and civic organizations at the local level to develop capacity in the community around social, racial, and economic justice issues.
NCCLO Deputy Director María Eugenia Calvopiña shares that, “Latinos seek what’s written in the Declaration of Independence - ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ These should be their rights and reality, but Latinos often encounter individual and systemic obstacles to achieving them, including language barriers, lack of education about the system, and racism. NCCLO believes that our state benefits when every Latino family has the resources and opportunities to achieve their full potential and the worth and dignity of our people is affirmed. That is why we organize - to ensure that all Latinos have access to high-quality education, benefit from a healthy and sustainable environment and quality housing, enjoy economic opportunity, and can engage fully in civic life.”
NCCLO was built out of a community effort that had created the Latino Community Credit Union, which itself came to be following several waves of violent crimes and home invasions that were perpetrated against Latinos in Durham without bank accounts. The explosive growth of the credit union magnified the fact that the Latino community needed more than just financial support, and NCCLO became an independent nonprofit organization in 2004. Since that time NCCLO has helped hundreds of families, first by engaging in small group conversations that serve to identify issues impacting Latino families and decide on a common agenda for change. These conversations are followed by intensive leadership development training. The skills learned during these trainings help members organize specific campaigns aimed at bringing about meaningful change.
Most recently this work has resulted in:
- $20 million investment in Forsyth to hire new bilingual staff, social workers, and counselors. The Latino Congress continues to engage and support communities through trainings and support and holding officials accountable for spending American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding to address community needs.
- $9 million in ARP funds to support affordable housing in Cary. Latino leaders organized a grassroots campaign aimed at securing funding for affordable housing, participating in a public forum with all candidates for the Town Council, canvassing neighborhoods, and marching with hundreds to the polls on election day.
- $250,000 in ARP funds from Orange County Commissioners to provide property tax relief to low-income homeowners. This pilot property tax relief program offers the most funding per household of any program in the state to help low-income homeowners who are struggling to stay in their homes because of their property tax burden. With rising property taxes as one of the main drivers of displacement of low-income homeowners in Orange County, this program is a critical tool for preserving existing affordable housing in the community.
In terms of what is next for NCCLO, Maria points to five different things: “To continue our successful systems change efforts at the local level and in the communities where we have power, continue to build our capacity to act together at the state/federal level with sufficient power to address larger community needs, increase the overall electoral power of Latinos in the upcoming elections, increase our internal capacity to develop additional leaders, members and raise more funds, and solidify relationships with multi-racial allies and build a statewide vehicle for collective action.”
Mission: The NC Congress of Latino Organizations (aka The Latino Congress) is a statewide, membership led organization that builds power among Latino institutions and their leaders to advance social, racial and economic justice. The Latino Congress works for for the public good by coalescing training, and organizing Latinos across religious, racial, nationality, class, county and neighborhood lines.
Our membership consists of more than seventy congregations, community associations, unions and nonprofits in North Carolina representing more than 100,000 individuals.
To learn more about how you can get involved with NCCLO, click the button below.