Executive Director Kent Craig (far left) and the Centro staff are gearing up for some exciting events this summer
It’s an exciting time for Centro Hispano of Dane County. They have an interesting RadioThon — an on-air pledge drive — coming up with La Movida 1480 AM this Friday. Their Nuestra Fiesta celebration is coming home to Madison’s south side in a few weeks. Their youth leadership summer programs — including Nuestras Voces, Proyecto Lider, ComVida, and Fishing Club — are in full swing and they have been winning awards on the local and national level.
Centro Hispano is Dane County’s premiere Latino agency offering resources like job-search assistance, youth programs, and parenting classes to help Latinos develop as individuals, families, and communities. Executive Director Kent Craig has been leading the charge for the agency as it has become more youth-program-focused over the last few years. The Madison Times sat down with him recently to ask him about the many things Centro is involved in and about the future of the organization.
The Madison Times: How do you feel about the direction that Centro has taken and the momentum it has gained the past few years?
Kent Craig: I feel really good about where we are at right now. We served over 9,000 people last year and I feel like there is a lot of excitement and energy around our work.
TMT: Centro has won some impressive awards. Which ones mean the most to you and why?
KC: Winning the Family Strengthening Award from the National Council of La Raza was huge. It got us a lot of national recognition that was nice. An award that really meant the most to me, though, was an award for one of our youth leaders. Nadia Mora from Proyecto Lider was awarded the United Way Youth Volunteer Award which was really special. That award meant a lot to me because it really showed in a concrete way the space we are creating to develop young leaders.
TMT: Centro Hispano will be hosting a RadioThon with La Movida 1480 AM on Friday, June 8. Talk to us about what this is all about and how it came to be….
KC:The Radiothon came about through discussions with [La Movida owners] Luis and Lupita Montoto about how Centro and La Movida can work even more closely together. We thought it would be cool to do a series of programs that really highlight the outstanding work our staff and volunteers are doing with youth. Luis and Lupita were gracious enough to offer to do an on-air pledge drive at the conclusion of the series which will be the RadioThon. We will be raising money on air from noon until 6 p.m. on Friday, June 8. La Movida will be doing a live feed from Centro so folks can stop in, say hi, pledge, and have a snack and coffee. It should be tons of fun.
TMT: Centro has numerous summer youth programs planned. Can you talk about some of the programs and how they are helping our Latino youth achieve?
KC:We are offering a lot of positive activities this summer to keep youth engaged. Our summer fishing club is expanding this year and will be a great opportunity to experience the outdoors and learn. We have several youth leadership development offerings including Proyecto Lider and Nuestras Voces. These programs are very youth-directed and are opportunities for young people to develop their skills as leaders and make change in their communities. Also, our Schools of Hope elementary tutoring project will be providing additional support to summer school students.
TMT: In a change of venue, Centro Hispano’s Nuestra Fiesta will be taking place behind Centro on Madison’s south side June 23. What can folks expect at this event?
KC: Nuestra Fiesta is shaping up to be an awesome event. We wanted to bring it to our space so that we could use the festival as a way to better connect to the community. The music is going to be incredible. We will have several groups from Chicago and Los Angeles, some local groups, and many styles of music. There will also be food, activities for children, and workshops from the musical artists.
TMT: What can we look for from Centro in the coming year? What are your long-term goals?
KC: Our long-term goal is to turn our facility into a state-of-the-art cultural center. We have already transformed the space into something special but want to do even more. Our goal is to have a performing arts center, a small café, and an early childhood learning center at Centro in addition to all of the wonderful facilities we currently offer.