On March 13, 1964, Lena Archuleta, Charles Tafoya and Bernie Valdez joined the President and Executive Director of the United Fund to sign the first agreement in the nation between a United Fund (now Mile High United Way) and a Latino 501(c)(3) organization: the Latin American Research and Service Agency (LARASA). LARASA was established to address the needs of Latinos in education, youth motivation, job development, training and employment, health and welfare, housing, and community resources.
LARASA's vision was to create an agency where people from all ethnic and racial groups could work together to improve the conditions under which Latinos lived and worked with the belief that when you improve the lives of Latinos, you improve the lives of all Coloradans. Over the years, the board of directors and staff operated a wide range of programs in response to needs identified by and for Latinos in the Denver Metro areas and, to a lesser extent, in other parts of Colorado.
Toward the end of the 20th century, LARASA became increasingly committed to training new generations of future leaders within the state's racial and ethnic minority communities. In 2007, LARASA changed its name and became the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy, and Research Organization (CLLARO). In May of 2018 in CLLARO's fifty-fourth year, the Board of Directors adopted the following four program goals for the next five years.
In May of 2018 in CLLARO's fifty-fourth year, the Board of Directors adopted the following four program goals for the next five years.
1. Prepare new civic leaders to seek equal opportunity and social justice for all Coloradans. The CLLARO Capitol Fellows Program began by training and placing five college-level interns with state legislators in 2013. The program has grown. Eighteen interns were trained and placed in 2018. Evaluation shows fellows gain knowledge, skills, and confidence needed to develop and promote public policies benefiting Colorado's Latino communities. CLLARO now seeks financial support to (a) continue the program in future years, (b) add substantive public policy in health, education, and aging to the curriculum, (c) help fellowship alumni achieve civic leadership roles in Latino communities, (d) add participants from colleges outside the Denver metro area, and (e) add programming for high school students.
2. Develop grassroots community leaders to improve social determinants of health in Latino communities. In 2016, the CLLARO Community Health Advocacy Program demonstrated how training neighborhood and community volunteer promotoras in leadership, policy advocacy, and grassroots organizing can help reduce health disparities in Montbello and adjacent neighborhoods in Denver and Aurora. CLLARO seeks funding to train volunteers in additional Colorado neighborhoods.
3. Connect Latino caregivers to resources for elderly and disabled family members. CLLARO seeks funding to expand the health promotoras program to connect caregivers of aging members of low-income families with supportive services.
4. Mobilize parents to seek equal educational opportunity for Latino children and youth. In 2017, CLLARO designed its Parents Advocating for Local Schools curriculum in collaboration with teachers and administrators at selected schools in Montbello and North Denver. CLLARO seeks funding to test and evaluate the curriculum, training Latino parents to facilitate and advocate improved education outcomes for their children.
Those four programs will help Colorado prepare for inevitable demographic change. The nation's non-Hispanic white population is shrinking, as that population ages and its birthrate falls. The complexion of Colorado is changing, thanks to intermarriage and higher birth and immigration rates among Latinos and other minority groups. Minorities now comprise the majority in four other states and the District of Columbia. The U.S. will be a majority minority nation by 2043. CLLARO is committed to reducing persistent income, educational, health, and political disparities that have limited opportunities for Colorado's growing Latino population since 1848. CLLARO seeks equal opportunity for all Coloradans, to increase labor force productivity, promote equity in civic institutions, and improve quality of life in Colorado for decades to come. We ask for your support.