National Council of La Raza
NCLR serves millions of Mexican Americans every year in 41 states, by working with its affiliate network of nearly 300 community-based organizations located throughout the country. The NCLR is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and has five regional offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, and San Antonio. NCLR receives funding from philanthropic organizations, such as the Ford Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as corporations such as Citigroup and Wal-Mart.
NCLR works on a variety of different issues affecting the Latino community in the U.S. such as health, housing, education, workforce development, and youth leadership. NCLR’s Institute for Hispanic Health works to reduce the incidence, burden, and impact of health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and HIV/AIDS. The NCLR Homeownership Network operates in 20 states and provides counseling on purchasing a home and managing the investment after purchase. NCLR also has both early childhood and secondary education programs which stress literacy, college preparation, and parent involvement. The organization’s education programs also address the needs of Latino and English language learner students through a network of community-based charter schools. In addition, NCLR works to increase employment opportunities for Latino youth through its Escalera program. Youth leadership is also stressed in the Líderes initiative that links youth development organizations around the country into one national network. Through all these programs, NCLR provides technical assistance to its network of community-based organizations around the country working on the same issues.
NCLR’s policy team also works on a range of similar issues including civic engagement, criminal and juvenile justice, wealth-building, housing, education, health, and that for which they are most well known, immigration. The organization advocates on behalf of Hispanics in the United States by conducting research and informing policy-makers about how proposed or existing legislation affects the Latino community.
In the early 1960s, a group of young Mexican Americans in Washington, DC formed the National Organization for Mexican American Services (NOMAS). The organization existed primarily to provide technical assistance to Hispanic groups and bring them together under one umbrella. NOMAS presented a proposal to the Ford Foundation to conduct a study of Mexican Americans, which ultimately led the foundation to finance two studies. The first was conducted by the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), while the second less academic study was conducted by three Mexican Americans, Herman Gallegos, Dr. Julian Samora, and Dr. Ernesto Galarza. The resulting reports showed that Mexican Americans needed more organized advocacy groups to work on their behalf at both the local and national level.
As a result, Gallegos, Samora and Galarza founded the Southwest Council of La Raza (SWCLR) in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1968. SWCLR was given financial support from the Ford Foundation, the National Council of Churches, and the United Auto Workers, and the organization received 501(c)(3) status later that year.
In 1973, the SWCLR became a national organization, changed its name to the National Council of La Raza, and moved its headquarters to Washington, D.C. Early disagreements among the organization's leadership caused the Ford Foundation to threaten to withhold funding, resulting in President Henry Santiestevan's resignation and the election of Raul Yzaguirre.
In 1973, the NCLR bylaws were amended to require equal representation of women on the board of directors.
Beginning in about 1975, the NCLR began expanding its focus to include the issues of non-Mexican American Latinos. This policy was made official in 1979. By 1980, the NCLR was funded almost entirely by the federal government.
When the Reagan Administration slashed social funding, the NCLR was forced to cut back the scale of its operations. As a result, the organization began focusing on national policy and concentrating its efforts in Washington, D.C. After the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, state governments exerted more control over the disbursement of welfare funds, which led to the development of the NCLR's Field Advocacy Project to influence decisions at the state and local levels.
Definition of the phrase "La Raza"
In the Spanish language the term La Raza literally means "the race" or generally and symbolically "the people." Its meaning varies amongst various Spanish-speaking peoples. In the context that the NCLR uses “La Raza”, it means “the people,” or “the Hispanic people of the New World”, not "the race" — people of Chicano (i.e. Mexican American) and Mexican descent and the Hispanic world, as well as mestizos who share Native American or national Hispanic heritage. The concept of inclusiveness was initially promoted by Jose Vasconselos as part of the phrase and title of his essay, "La Raza Cosmica", the mixing of white, black, and native, in the Western Hemisphere.
Some critics, such as conservative talk radio host George Putnam, call NCLR exclusionary in its approach to civil rights. Republican congressman Charlie Norwood of Georgia's ninth district criticized congressional earmarking of four million dollars for NCLR housing initiatives. Anti-illegal immigration websites, such as American Patrol and The American Resistance, accuse NCLR of encouraging illegal immigration to the United States.
NCLR responds to critics by stating that it has never been racially or ethnically exclusionary, has never supported the notion of a “Reconquista” or “Aztlán”, has never used, and unequivocally rejects, the motto “Por La Raza todo. Fuera de La Raza nada" ["For the Race, everything, outside the Race, nothing"], has supported numerous measures to ensure that all Americans have the freedom to choose where to live, and that its programs are covered by civil rights laws administered by independent agencies at the federal, state, and local level. NCLR wrote a letter to Rep. Norwood explaining that funding is given to a subsidiary of the organization called the Raza Development Fund which provides funding for affordable housing, health care centers and educational facilities.
NCLR also denies supporting illegal immigration, reiterating its support for effective and reasonable border security and immigration-law enforcement. Its website states that it “has repeatedly recognized the right of the United States, as a sovereign nation, to control its borders. Moreover, NCLR has supported numerous specific measures to strengthen border enforcement.” In a speech in San Diego, NCLR CEO Janet Murguía stated: "First, as a sovereign nation, the United States has the right to determine who comes and who stays. . . [It also] has a right to consider enforcement at a variety of levels, including border enforcement, interior enforcement, and workplace enforcement. . . We support enforcement...[because] as Americans, we recognize it's the right thing to do."
- Esteban E. Torres NCLR-Harvard Mid-Career Fellowship Program
- American GI Forum
- La Raza
- The Bronze Race
- "About Us". National Council of La Raza. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
- National Council of La Raza: About Section
- National Council of La Raza. "Detailed History"
- The Chronicle: 1/20/2005: Giving a Voice to Hispanics
- National Council of La Raza. "Transition to a National Organization"
- National Council of La Raza. "Formation of the Southwest Council of La Raza"
- "What does the term 'La Raza' mean?", NCLR FAQs
- José Vasconselos, La Raza Cósmica (Mexico D.F., Espasa Calpe, S.A., 1948), 47-51.
- Putnam, George (2005-03-11). "One Reporter's Opinion – The Attorney General and La Raza". NewsMax. Retrieved 2006-08-25.
- Carpenter, Amanda (2005-12-02). "GOP Congress Earmarks $4 Million for Leftist Pro-Illegal Alien Group". Human Events.
- The American Resistance. "Contributors to The National Council of The Race"
- "The Truth About NCLR: Reconquista and Segregation" (Press release). National Council of La Raza. Retrieved 2010-08-07.
- Rebuttal letter from NCLR to Congressman Norwood (R-GA) regarding his criticism 
- The Truth About NCLR: NCLR Answers Critics
- Janet Murguía (2005-05-06). "REMARKS OF JANET MURGUÍA, NCLR PRESIDENT AND CEO AT THE CHICANO FEDERATION LUNCHEON MAY 6, 2005" (PDF). National Council of La Raza. Archived from the original on 2006-12-01. Retrieved 2007-03-23.