By Bill Coats

Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA) received a national award recently for empowering Latino families. RCMA received the Family Strengthening Award from the National Council of La Raza (NCLR). A co-winner of the award was Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio, the largest nonprofit run by and for Latinos in Minnesota.

“We are honoring CLUES and RCMA at the 2016 NCLR Annual Conference for their tireless work in helping to transform the lives of Latino families,” said NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía. “Their dedication and success help to strengthen our entire community.”

RCMA serves nearly 7,000 children of Florida’s rural poor, particularly farm workers; 83 percent of RCMA children are Hispanic. The Immokalee-based nonprofit operates 68 child-care centers, three charter schools and several community learning centers. In the Tampa Bay area, RCMA operates 18 child-care centers and two charter schools, serving some 1,700 children.

While RCMA provides cutting-edge bilingual education, it has long emphasized family services, and stresses to parents: You are your child’s first teacher. Ultimately, RCMA strengthens families by turning parents into leaders and advocates, not just for their children, but for the communities they represent.

“We are blessed to work with incredibly strong immigrant families who face incredibly difficult problems due to our country’s inability to pass immigration reform,” said RCMA Executive Director Barbara Mainster. “Helping parents realize their importance as the most important teachers in their children’s lives focuses on the positive and the assurance of a brighter future. There is nothing we do that is as rewarding as this work. Thanks, NCLR, for supporting us.”

NCLR is the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. Like RCMA and CLUES, NCLR works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans.

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