UW Combined Fund Drive

August 30, 2023

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the history, diverse cultures, achievements, and contributions of Latinos whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The 2023 recognition theme, Latinos: Driving Prosperity, Power, and Progress in America, pays tribute to the immense economic and political strides Latinos have made in the U.S.

The first nationally recognized Hispanic heritage observation came in 1968 with a weeklong commemoration. The recognition was expanded in 1988 to 30 days, from September 15 – October 15.

September 15 is significant because it is Independence Day for the Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, while Mexico celebrates independence on September 16 and Chile on September 18. Indigenous People’s Day and Día de la Raza are celebrated by many Spanish-speaking countries during this time as well.

The word Hispanic is generally a linguistical category, referring to people from the 21 Spanish-speaking countries and territories, including Spain. The word Latino is more of an ethnic and cultural category, used to describe people who are descendants from Latin America, including Mexico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Central and South America. It is often a personal choice which term people use to describe themselves.

Latino cultural heritage in the Pacific Northwest dates to 1774, when Spanish and Mexican explorers began a long period of discovery and cartography along the coast. Place names like the San Juan Islands and the Strait of Juan de Fuca acknowledge the legacy of this exploration.

According to 2020 U.S. Census data, 13% of Washington’s residents identify as Hispanic or Latinx.

Not all whose heritage hails from Central or Latin America speak Spanish as a first or even second language. Portuguese is spoken in Brazil, and French is the official language in some Caribbean nations. Many indigenous languages are spoken in these regions as well.

Latine and Latinx are gender-neutral terms recently popularized to describe people that originate from Latin America (Latine is the more grammatically correct) because gendered Spanish words offer no option for those who choose to identify as non-binary.

Hispanic heritage at UW

Save the date for UW Tacoma’s Celebrando Comunidad: Latinx Awards + Celebration on Friday, Oct. 20

Leadership Without Borders, a program of the Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center, is dedicated to building a comprehensive pathway for undocumented students’ access and success at UW and beyond. Learn more about their Undocu Ally Training program and their digital campaign DACA Myth Busters.

Head over to Kane Hall for a look at Mexican-American artist Pablo O’Higgins’ monumental work The Struggle Against Racial Discrimination, which he created over the course of ten years for a Seattle maritime workers’ union hall as a symbol of Mexican and American cooperation. Several murals by Latinx artists are also part of the Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center collection.

Explore Hispanic history and culture through the College of Arts & Sciences’ collection of art, media, writing, programs and communities by Latinx faculty, students and alumni.

The Burke Museum’s contemporary culture and ethnology collections include textiles and other artwork from Mexico, Central and South America, such as the Fred Hart pottery collection, the largest of its kind in North America.

The Latinx Student Union at UW is committed to building a friendly, supportive, and empowering community for Latinx students from different cultural and racial backgrounds.

The UW Latinx Faculty & Staff Association is an advocacy, leadership development and social network that addresses Latinx issues in higher education, including the educational concerns and advancement of the UW Latinx community.

In Health Sciences, the Latino Center for Health provides leadership for community-engaged research through capacity building and authentic partnerships with community stakeholders to promote impactful improvements in the health and well-being of Latinx communities in Washington state, regionally, and nationally.

Learn more

Support: Give through the UWCFD

Consider making a one-time gift or setting up monthly payroll deduction through the UWCFD to one of our member organizations providing services and encouraging social empowerment to Latinx communities in Washington and beyond:  

CASA Latina (charity code 0315614): Empowers Latino immigrants through educational and economic opportunities, including day labor employment, English language classes, workplace safety and job skills trainings, leadership development, and community organizing around issues of public policy that affect immigrant workers.

CIELO (charity code 0456569): Offers intensive, interactive family support and educational services that help the Latino community achieve social empowerment. We provide services for adult learners’ families and establish trusting relationships that help the Latino community.

Consejo Counseling and Referral Service (charity code 0337159): Award winning, Latino focused, multi-service agency whose services transform, strengthen, and empower. Core programs: mental health, domestic violence/sexual assault, substance abuse and transitional housing.

El Centro De La Raza (charity code 0316486): Grounded in the Latino community, our mission is to build unity across all racial and economic sectors, to organize, empower, and defend our most vulnerable and marginalized populations and to bring justice, dignity, equality, and freedom to all the peoples of the world.

Entre Hermanos (charity code 0524060): Works to improve the health and well-being of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Latino/a community in a safe and culturally appropriate environment.

Hispanic Scholarship Fund (charity code 0315681): HSF is the nation’s leading organization supporting Hispanic higher education. HSF’s vision: to strengthen the country by advancing college education among Hispanic Americans.

Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (charity code 0456889): MALDEF promotes and protects the civil rights of Latinos in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights and political access and administers scholarships for Law students.

National Council of La Raza (charity code 1480233): NCLR is the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States that works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans.

Viva Hispanic Foundation NW  (charity code 0315830): provides educational support and opportunities, conducts programs aimed at empowering the Hispanic and other minority communities in the State of Washington.

The UWCFD encourages community-based support, civic engagement and advocacy by and for Hispanic and Latino people in pursuit of fair representation and equal economic and educational opportunity.

Contributed by Nicole Reeve-Parker