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.
The Latino Congress was conceived as part of the community organizing effort that generated the Latino Community Credit Union, a financial institution created after large mobilizations in response to an intense wave of violent crimes and home invasions against unbanked Latinos in Durham.
The unprecedented growth of the credit union in Durham (400 members a month), and the need for financial services across the state generated the vision for expansion. The Latino Congress was then envisioned as the statewide field of membership of the credit union. After its initial organizing drive the Latino Congress became an independent non-profit organization in 2004 with the purpose of:
- Creating a vehicle for Latinos to have a powerful voice in the decisions that affect their lives and communities by increasing participation in public life, through relational meetings, house meeting campaigns, research actions and public actions
- Developing leadership and strengthening community within and between institutions
- Building bridges across longstanding divisions that isolate communities from each other
- The building of this network involves:
- Identifying and recruiting institutions who share a passion for democracy and are led by their convictions, values, and faith to act for the public good.
- Building relationships of trust among people and institutions across the racial, denominational, economic, and geographic boundaries that divide our state.
- Strengthening member institutions by developing the skills and capacity of their leaders.
- Facilitating the formulation of a public agenda and action plan which is responsive to consensus interests of member institutions.
The Latino Congress is a vehicle for the development of leaders, community organizing, public negotiation and non-partisan electoral work. We generate collective power by bringing together several local chapters formed by diverse grassroots religious congregations, community centers, unions, non-profit institutions and their leaders. Those institutions are often the most stable and trusted local Latino networks in communities.
Our chapters: Are groups of local organizations that join to create power through building strong relationships. All local chapters unite around a collective local, state or national agenda which is built with input from thousands of grassroots leaders.
Our Leadership Development: The staff of the Latino Congress provides the leaders of member and allied organizations with access to training opportunities to increase their capacity to affect change in their communities. Leadership development takes place through participation in local, regional and national training sessions where leaders are equipped with community organizing skills that increase their capacity to affect change in their communities.
Our Community Organizing Strategy: Community Organizing through relational organizing is the chief strategy of The Latino Congress. Organizing is the process through which leaders and staff are brought together to:
- identify and develop leaders within and across member institutions;
- build relationships among leaders of diverse backgrounds, both one-on-one (individual meetings), and in larger groups
- discern the issues that motivate broad participation and can lead to successful action within each member organization
- engage in strategic action around issues that have been identified, researched, and negotiated within and between member institutions
- reflect and evaluate during every step of the cycle to ensure that leaders deepen their understanding of their experience, and continue to improve their organizing skills.
Our Public Actions: Our leaders engage on discipline problem-solving negotiations with key decision makers on the issues than impact their families. Actions are the best source of development and recognition for our leaders. Our leaders engage in careful collective planning and research and initiate strategic action around issues that have been identified by our community through hundreds of listening sessions.
Our Non Partisan Electoral Work: The Latino Congress is a vehicle for civic engagement of Latinos. Latino leaders learn a combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make a difference by being civically responsible individuals and promoting non partisan electoral work.
The Latino Congress utilizes the organizing model of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), the nation's largest and longest-standing network of local faith and community-based organizations. The IAF created the modern model of faith- and broad-based organizing and is widely recognized as having the strongest track record in the nation for citizen leadership development and for helping congregations and other civic organizations act on their missions to achieve lasting change in the world.