Mi Casa CEO Elected as New Boettcher Foundation Trustee

Press Release Marquez-Hudson Final (2)Mi Casa CEO Christine Marquez-Hudson was recently elected as a trustee of the Boettcher Foundation Board.

Comprised of 12 Colorado business and community leaders, the Boettcher Foundation Board is responsible for overseeing the organization, founded in 1937 to promote a better quality of life for Colorado citizens by investing in education, community enrichment and social services.

“I am honored to serve on this board and support the Boettcher Foundation’s mission of investing in Colorado,” said Christine. “I know this opportunity will prove valuable in creating a better community.”

Chosen to serve on the board as a result of her community leadership, Christine is widely recognized as an active leader in the Denver area. She has received numerous awards for her work in the community and was named the 2013 9News Leader of the Year.

Christine is a 2009 Bonfils-Stanton Livingston Fellow, a Colorado Trust Fellow, and an alumna of the National Hispana Leadership Institutes’ Executive Leadership Program.

As a result of Christine’s strategic leadership, Mi Casa Resource Center has emerged as a leader among Colorado nonprofits and has been nationally recognized for its sector-focused job training, women and minority owned business development, and youth and family development programs.

Founded by the Boettcher Family in 1937 to effectively assist, encourage and promote a better quality of life for the citizens of Colorado, The Boettcher Foundation invests in “minds and mortar:” education, community services, healthcare and art and culture through merit awards, scholarships and capital grants. Over the past 75 years, the Foundation has awarded over $300 million to the people of Colorado.

For more information and to find a complete list of Boettcher Foundation Trustees, visit www.boettcherfoundation.org.

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Day of the Dead Event & Art Auction to Benefit Mi Casa

dia image mezcalDecorating sugar skulls is a Mexican tradition for Día de los Muertos, the November 2 holiday that brings together family and friends to remember and honor those who have died.

To mark this important Mexican holiday that is sometimes celebrated as All Souls Day in Catholic traditions, local Mexican restaurant Mezcal is hosting a Día de los Muertos party and silent auction to benefit Mi Casa.

Mezcal and Mi Casa recruited artists from around Denver to decorate skulls that will be auctioned off on Saturday, November 2, from noon to 6 p.m. at Mezcal, located at 3230 E. Colfax Avenue.

All of the auction proceeds, plus 10% of food sales, will be donated to Mi Casa to support programs aimed at advancing the economic success of Latino families.

The Día de los Muertos celebration at Mezcal on November 2 is sponsored by Don Julio tequila so count on great drink specials all weekend long!

Mezcal chose Mi Casa as the beneficiary of the Día de los Muertos event because of Mi Casa’s long history supporting local Latino communities with programs that provide practical pathways to career path employment, educational advancement and business ownership.

The Day of the Dead is celebrated throughout Mexico, in Latin America, the U.S. and in other parts of the world. Its origins are traced to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years. Today, Day of the Dead customs include creating ornate altars to welcome departed spirits, holding vigils, and visiting the graves of departed relatives. Sugar skulls and traditional foods such as pan de muerto (bread of the dead) are also staples of the celebration.

Bring your family and check out this unique Día De Los Muertos celebration. Each skull is truly a work of art, and your support of this event will translate directly into a financial investment in Mi Casa.

The silent auction will be open from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, November 2, but festivities will last until closing, and Mezcal is offering food and drink specials all weekend long. For more information, contact Mezcal at 303-322-5219.

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Mi Casa is launching a social enterprise!

Talent Source Logo

After 30 years of helping others launch and grow businesses, Mi Casa decided it was time to take our own advice and become business owners ourselves! And after a thorough business planning period, we are now in the process of launching TalentSource, a staffing service providing solutions for a diverse workforce.

A full-service Denver staffing agency, TalentSource provides outstanding and diverse talent for temporary, temp-to-hire and direct placement employment opportunities. TalentSource connects Denver area employers with a skilled, screened and bilingual workforce to meet the challenges and opportunities posed by multicultural marketplaces and globalized business.

TalentSource’s inception follows a careful business planning process. Mi Casa’s commitment to long-term financial sustainability led the agency to embark on an investigation in 2012 to discover the most promising social enterprise opportunities that would enable Mi Casa to further our mission, build on our assets and expertise and generate more of our own revenue.

Throughout 2012 and 2013, a group of social enterprise experts and entrepreneurs – dubbed the Social Enterprise Think Tank – helped Mi Casa assess various social enterprise ideas. Ultimately, the agency settled on TalentSource, a staffing agency capitalizing on Mi Casa’s long history of preparing workers for career path employment, strong employer relationships and access to diverse and bilingual talent.

Since the decision to create TalentSource, our Social Enterprise Committee–comprised of community business and finance experts as well as several board members– has overseen and guided the implementation of this new venture.

TalentSource has already received strong community support, acquiring startup funding from several organizations including the Tim & Bernadette Marquez Foundation, The Colorado Trust, The Denver Foundation, Third Generation Fund, and The Piton Foundation.

To raise the final start-up funds for TalentSource, Mi Casa is launching a crowd-sourced funding campaign early February through Indiegogo. Stay tuned for more details!

The launch of TalentSource has been a collaborative effort and Mi Casa greatly appreciates the many volunteers who have generously offered their time to get this venture off the ground. Our sincerest thanks to the following individuals and companies:

  • The Social Enterprise Think Tank – for guidance and advice during the research and planning phases
  • Ryan Baca – for advising Mi Casa throughout the launch period and providing support in hiring the TalentSource director
  • John Reyes – for designing the TalentSource website
  • Diego Sedillo – for advising Mi Casa and helping secure a line of credit for TalentSource
  • Patricia Lepiani and The Idea Marketing – for marketing support and logo development
  • The Social Enterprise Committee of the Board of Directors – for ongoing guidance and oversight

To learn more about TalentSource, click here.

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Brunch at Randolph's to Benefit Mi Casa – Oct. 13

Treat yourself and your family to a delicious brunch at Randolph’s on October 13. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Mi Casa!

Randolph’s is located inside the Warwick Denver Hotel at 1776 Grant Street.

The Warwick Denver Hotel is the official hotel sponsor of Mi Casa, and we are grateful for their support!

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How to Support Your Child's Education

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Parents can play a vital role in supporting the academic success of their children, but many are unsure of where to begin. Here are some ways to get started!

Connect with the School

Schools are eager for parental involvement and offer parent education sessions as well as numerous volunteering and leadership opportunities. Parents can engage with schools through becoming a Parent Teacher Association (PTA) member or leader, meeting with parent liaisons, or volunteering with fundraising efforts.

“Schools want parents to be involved any way they can,” said Andrea Herrera Moreno, Manager of Mi Casa Neighborhood Center at North High School. “Parents who show initiative in becoming involved with their child’s school are highly regarded.”

It is important to start the tradition of checking in with teachers and counselors as well as using school resources early on in a child’s education, but it is never too late to start. Parents should feel comfortable voicing concerns to school staff. In fact, teachers often require parent support when making certain decisions such as pulling overwhelmed students out of AP classes or allowing students to take on a heavy course load.

Encourage Involvement in Extracurricular Activities

“Each county has a different school system and places differing values on the various components of education,” said Andrea. “In America, students are evaluated holistically so their involvement in afterschool activities, along with performance in school, is highly valued.”

Because their brains are still developing, students tend to put more weight on immediate consequences rather than the long-term effects of a decision. For this reason, they often have a hard time understanding how their present hard work will pay off in the future.

Parents can help engage their children in school and afterschool programs by questioning their disinterest and helping them trouble-shoot those obstacles and barriers to participation.

Help Prepare for Life After Graduation

Students need parental support and encouragement when planning for life after high school. This support could mean help applying for colleges and scholarships, securing an internship, or exploring trade school options. Whatever a student’s career goals, post high school opportunities should be secured before graduation to ensure continued progress after high school.

Invest in Yourself

Finally, a parent’s investment in their own education is also an investment in their child’s education. Children who see their parents demonstrating perseverance and a commitment to learning are much more likely to incorporate these values into their own life as well.

To learn more about supporting your child’s education or investing in your own, contact Mi Casa’s Family Programs Coordinator Andy Figueroa at 720-424-0379 or afigueroa@micasaresourcecenter.org. To learn more about Mi Casa’s Neighborhood Centers click here.

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2014 GED Exam Changes Mean Test Takers Should Hurry Up!

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The GED will change drastically in January 2014, shifting from paper and pen to computer-based testing and adding an increased focus on writing and content analysis.

Those who have partially completed the five GED tests must finish before December 31 or start all over again in 2014.

And the new computer-based GED test will cost substantially more. It will be sold to states at $120, twice the current rate. Pricing for the public will vary by testing centers.

“We urge those who have completed part of the GED to finish before the year ends,” said Mi Casa’s CEO, Christine Marquez-Hudson. “Not only will all progress be erased next year, it will be more difficult and expensive to complete this important step for professional advancement.”

The GED test currently has five sections: writing, science, math, social studies and language arts. The new test has been re-aligned into four core content areas: reasoning through language arts, mathematical reasoning, science, and social studies. The writing section, currently an essay, has been integrated into the language arts and social studies sections through writing prompts.

Though the GED test has been slightly modified each year since its inception in 1942, the 2014 changes mark the most significant overhaul yet.

“We see that higher education has new standards, the workforce, the economy’s changing,” said Armando Diaz, spokesman for Washington-based GED Testing Service, in an interview with The Denver Post. “We decided it’s time to completely give the testing program a facelift.”

In light of the impending changes, more than 1 million people are expected to attempt to complete the GED in 2013, a 30% increase from prior years.

Just in time to help students complete their GED before the tests undergo significant changes, Mi Casa is offering GED test preparation in partnership with the Community College of Denver at two locations.

At Mi Casa’s headquarters on Acoma Street, GED preparation classes take place Monday and Wednesdays from 5:30-8 p.m. At the Mi Casa Neighborhood Center on the Lake Middle School Campus, GED prep courses are Tuesday and Thursdays from 6-8:30 p.m. and include free childcare for kids aged 4+ who are toilet trained.

The cost of Mi Casa’s GED prep course is $40, which covers classroom instruction and materials. There is an additional fee to take the GED tests. Find out more here.

Registration for Mi Casa’s GED prep classes is October 4 at the Community College of Denver. Call 303-556-3805 for more information.

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We Love Our Volunteers!

Volunteer Happy Hour_1

On September 10, Mi Casa welcomed more than 30 past and present volunteers to our 2nd Annual Volunteer Appreciation Happy Hour. Guests enjoyed drinks, traditional Mexican food, and a raffle for a round-trip Southwest Airlines ticket. Volunteers were personally thanked by Mi Casa CEO Christine Marquez-Hudson and received an art print by renowned Denver artist Daniel Luna.

More than 100 volunteers have worked with Mi Casa this year alone, investing over 6,000 hours of time. This large volunteer contribution is what allows Mi Casa to achieve its mission.

“Volunteers assist in all aspects of Mi Casa’s work, not only increasing our capacity to serve the community, but also offering insight and expertise so we can continually raise the quality of the programs and services we offer,” said Mi Casa Volunteer & Outreach Specialist Amanda Steinken.

Volunteer of the YearMi Casa’s Volunteer of the Year Award went to Rick Lawton (pictured at left with Mi Casa CEO Christine Marquez-Hudson and Volunteer & Outreach Specialist Amanda Steinken), who has been involved with Mi Casa for 14 years. Rick was the Project Manger of Mi Casa’s Denver Green Jobs Initiative, which helped Northeast Denver workers launch careers in energy efficiency, sustainable construction, and solar energy. After the program ended due to the field’s limited jobs and high competition, Rick stayed on with Mi Casa as a volunteer and invested his time as a Career Coach.

“Rick was very instrumental when we revamped the Career Center,” said Amanda. “His invaluable feedback on the services we offer led to strategic changes that allow us to serve the community better than ever before.”

Rick is one of the many volunteers whose support allows Mi Casa to help 2,300 individuals take meaningful steps toward economic self-sufficiency each year.

But volunteers do more than help Mi Casa achieve its mission of advancing the economic success of Latino and low-income families. They also provide a source of encouragement to community members striving to trade poverty for lasting economic stability.

“Volunteers demonstrate to the families Mi Casa serves that the community cares about them and their economic success,” said Amanda.

Volunteers serve at Mi Casa in a number of ways including:

  • Board Members
  • Career Coaches
  • Workshop Facilitators
  • Employer Advisory Councils
  • Mock Interviewers
  • Administration/Clerical Support
  • Digital Connectors
  • Instructor Assistants
  • Guest Speakers
  • Social Enterprise
  • Think Tank
  • Marketing/ Communications Support
  • Fundraising Support
  • Website Design
  • Legal Night Organizers
  • Computer Literacy Coaches

To see more photos from the Volunteer Happy Hour, click here.

If you are interested in learning more about Mi Casa volunteering opportunities, please contact Amanda Steinken at 303-539-5631 or asteinken@MiCasaResourceCenter.org.

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Volunteer Profile: Alfonso

Did you know Mi Casa’s Career Center is entirely volunteer driven? Community members volunteer as Career Coaches and work one-on-one to help community members launch successful careers.

Career Coaches provide assistance with:

  • Resume creation/editing
  • Cover letter writing
  • Job searching
  • Basic computer skills
  • Interview skills

Thanks to our amazing volunteers, Mi Casa is able to provide FREE job search assistance to hundreds of job seekers every year!

Career Coaching

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Career Coach Alfonso (pictured at right).

Hometown: Pueblo, CO

Occupation: Regional Sales Manager at Blockbuster, LLC

Motivation for volunteering: I love helping people, especially those who want to work but just need a little help getting a job.

Greatest challenge facing the community: We need more education opportunities for lower income demographics as well as more jobs requiring skilled workers.

Country you want to visit: Japan, China, Spain

Best concert you’ve attended: The Eagles at the Pepsi Center

If you are interested in volunteering as a Career Coach or setting up a job search appointment, contact Amanda Steinken at 303-539-5631 or asteinken@micasaresourcecenter.org.

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Bilingual Bank Telling Opens World of Opportunity for Career Success

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Bilingual Bank Telling is one of the few career fields that offers opportunities and the training needed to advance professionally without a college degree. And Colorado’s growing Latino population means Spanish speaking bank tellers are in high demand.

Need for Banking Services Among Latinos

Latinos are one of the most underbanked and unbanked populations. Bank on Denver estimates that at least 7,000 Latino households in Denver alone are unbanked.

Banks are realizing the huge, untapped potential they have for customers among Latinos. And they see bilingual tellers as a way to reach out to the Latino community and create cultural awareness and trust, which is why there has been a surge in demand for these positions.

Career Benefits

Benefits of a career in the banking industry include:

  • High demand for bilingual workers
  • Steady hours of operation
  • Employee benefits

Advancement Opportunities

Banks typically offer partial tuition reimbursement to help pay for further education if employees study a field relating to the banking industry.

Bilingual bank tellers are far from limited in their future career options within the banking industry. Most people tend to forget that a bank is a business, offering positions not only in customer service and finance, but marketing, social media, product development, public relations and much more. As they become more experienced, bank tellers have a whole world of opportunity opened up to them.

Prerequisites

Requirements for bilingual bank teller positions include:

  • High school diploma or GED certificate
  • Conviction free background check for the past 7 years
  • Good credit history

Qualities needed to succeed in the banking industry include:

  • Communication skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Computer literacy
  • Mathematic Ability

Education and Supportive Services

Mi Casa’s Bilingual Bank Teller training program equips people with the skills and knowledge needed to successfully launch a career in the banking industry.

Mi Casa also provides supportive services to help people repair their credit, earn their GED, and gain computer literacy skills to remove obstacles from entering the banking industry.

If you are interested in learning more about Mi Casa’s Bilingual Bank Teller training program or other services, click here or call 303-573-1302.

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New Low-Cost Courses Help Small Business Owners Grow to the Next Level

Katrina BoldryIt’s easy for entrepreneurs to get caught up in the day to day activities of running a business and have little time left to focus on the strategic, long-term vision of growing a business. That’s why Mi Casa offers Listening to Your Business, a workshop specifically designed to help business owners, who have been in business 1 to 4 years, establish a 3-year vision.

After participation in this course, entrepreneurs are encouraged to continue their business development through a 7 week Business Breakthrough class.

Katrina Boldry, owner of Denver-based specialty leash and dog harness company Bold Lead Designs, discovered ways to improve her business performance and identified her most promising growth opportunities through the Listening to Your Business workshop and then later through the Business Breakthrough course. She left the class equipped with a strategic action plan, which helped her more than double sales within a year.

“Having a resource like the low-cost classes at Mi Casa to help navigate the world of business, keep moving in the right direction and find the most efficient way to do things is a tremendous service,” said Katrina.

In the Business Breakthrough course, established small business owners learn how to analyze their current business situation, identify the best growth opportunities, and develop leadership and management skills. Business owners leave the class with a workable business plan to meet growth objectives.

“With a strong focus on strategy and networking, these courses help entrepreneurs overcome challenges and grow to the next level,” said Elena Vasconez, Director of Mi Casa’s Women’s Business Center.

Katrina said the Business Breakthrough class helped clarify details and keep operations running smoothly while she was expanding her business. She now sells custom leads, collars and harnesses online through her own website, as well as through etsy.com, and at nearly a dozen retailers throughout the Denver area.

“Launching and growing a business is an overwhelming process,” said Katrina. “It’s really helpful to have ongoing access to classes and workshops for learning and support.”

Katrina is just one of the many local entrepreneurs Mi Casa has helped grow operations to the next level. In fact, Mi Casa has become a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs throughout the Denver community looking to expand their businesses.

“The high level of business expertise we offer, as well as connections to community resources, allows business owners to turn their dreams of growth into a reality,” said Elena.

Mi Casa’s next Listening to Your Business workshop is offered August 22. The registration fee is $15, but only $10 for the first 10 who register. To secure your spot, please register online here. To learn more visit www.MiCasaResourceCenter.org or call 303-573-1302.

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