Starting 2012 at Full Strength

The CAPACES Leadership Institute begins 2012 with the strength of a full staff.

Four leaders—two full-time and two half-time, drawn from CAPACES network organizations—are gearing up the Institute’s operations.  Together with the Institute’s nine board members, they’re expanding the Institute’s programs, visualizing the Institute’s path years into the future, and preparing for the Grand Opening on July 13th and 14th.

In March, we “e-introduced” one of the Institute’s staff:   Laura Isiordia.  She was then the “Start-up Coordinator” and, in August, the board named her Executive Director.  Laura came to the U.S. from Nayarit on Mexico’s Pacific coast.  She dedicated a dozen years to community organizing and leadership development at Farmworker Housing Development Corporation (FHDC), a CAPACES organization.

“I’ve loved my work at FHDC and I’m thrilled to be taking it to a whole new level guiding development of the Institute’s inaugural programs and activities,” Laura tells us. 

The other full-time staff person is Abel Valladares, a native of Querétero in Central Mexico.  He coordinates programs and donor fundraising.  Abel co-led the capital campaign donor fundraising in 2010 and 2011.  He’s served as the CAPACES network’s part-time coordinator since 2008.  He was already active in the movement before he graduated from Salem’s North High School in 2006.

Says Abel:  “There is a lot of hard work ahead of us but there’s a lot of passion and desire to improve this community and this is just the first step.”

Maricela Andrade works half-time as the Institute’s bookkeeper and administrative coordinator.  She’s a native of Michoan in Western Mexico; she lives with her parents at FHDC’s Nuevo Amanecer farmworker housing project in Woodburn.  She graduated from Woodburn High School in 2006 and from Chemeketa Community College in 2011.  Starting in 2006, she worked part time at Nuevo Amanecer’s Cipriano Ferrel Education Center in the after-school program.

“The Center was my ‘institute’, in a way,” Maricela recalled.  “My experience there introduced me to the movement and to serving my community.  The CLI will take that experience much farther and deeper for me and for other young leaders who are finding our own voices and roles in leadership.”

Ranfis Villatoro comes to his half-time role, coordinating communications and assisting grantwriting and program development, following two years as CAUSA’s community organizer in Eugene.   He was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Beaverton where he graduated from high school in 2005.  He received a B.S in Political Science from the University of Oregon in 2009.

“I’m excited about being part of a new team that will move the Institute to new stage and I’m excited to apply what I’ve learned in my three years in the movement to a new challenge.”  Ranfis explained.

We’re proud to have leaders in our movement step forward, as these four now have, to be our vanguard in the Institute’s journey deep into the “how” and “why” of movement-building.

December 23 Construction Update

We’re making steady progress and glad to have the unseasonably dry weather because we’re still working mostly on the building’s exterior.  Here are some highlights:

  • The “Larsen truss” work is done.  It’s the superstructure to which we’re now attaching a “curtain” wall for maximum insulation effect around the standard plywood wall.  Now, we’re attaching the “Dens Glass” sheathing to the Larsen trusses.  Siding is next.
  • With the support of IBEW Local 280, based in Tangent, Oregon, and Code Electric, a union contractor in Salem, we’re planning the electrical install.
  • The triple-pane window and special tight-sealing doors are in manufacture and will arrive in late January.
  • The growing medium is spread across the roof, thanks to the “bucket brigade” volunteers at several Saturday work parties.
  • We’re expanding our plans for exterior surface art beyond the mural space we’ve designated on the north and east walls (both street-facing).

850 people have volunteered on the construction so far and there’s still plenty to do.  If you have time to return or want to join in for the first time, contact Javier Lara at javierl(at)

The 1% You Can Be Proud to Join

For the past four months, the number “99” has had a whole new symbolism.  Even as our movement embraces it and even as we build Woodburn—rather than occupy it, “99%” has another meaning for us.  We’ve fixed our sights on reaching the 99% mark in our campaign to raise $750,000 to build and operate the CAPACES Leadership Institute,

Last Friday(December 9th), we received notification that McKenzie River Gathering approved its third grant to support establishing the Institute.  That’s the 23rd grant committed from a total of 13 foundations.

The MRG grant boosted our total to $731,357.  That was 97.4% of our goal.  We needed to raise another $11,143 to get to “99%.”

We decided to ask a few loyal supporters if they would pledge the final 1%—that’s $7,500.  Two of them, in an act of inspiring generosity, committed $11,143, instantly advancing the campaign to the 99% level.

Now, we put out the call to one and all:  here’s a “1%” you can proudly join—the contributors who donated the final 1%

Please remember that contributions are tax-deductible if made payable to “Willamette Valley Law Project” and can be sent to 300 Young St., Woodburn, OR 97071.  To make an online tax-deductible donation, go to (the Institute’s new website!) and click on the green “Donate” button.

We hope you can make a contribution by December 31st and ensure that 2011 will be a “si se pudo”—“yes we did”—year


Fundraising in “3-D”

Next week, we’ll be sending out exciting news about the capital campaign to raise $750,000 to build the CAPACES Leadership Institute’s permanent home and to operate its programs in 2012.

What we can say today it that we’re getting close—very close—to meeting that goal.

Major credit for that progress goes to fundraising “3-D”.

We all know that much of fundraising world is decidedly “2-D”—conducted through letters or via messages like this one.  Then there’s “1-D” fundraising:  phone calls.

Our capital campaign has, of course, relied on calls, letters and e-messages.  We hope they’ve compellingly conveyed our vision and determination.  But no matter how vividly they’ve described the Institute as it’s come to life, we know that letters and calls cannot not compare to fundraising in 3-D:  the in-person encounter.

Our individual meetings and our eleven gatherings in eight cities have been the campaign’s heart and soul—and the key to attracting 137 new donors to support our movement.

For us, “3-D” has another meaning:  “Donor Development and Diversification.”  That’s the name of the initiative created by a consortium of funders led by New World Foundation and Open Society Foundations, both based in New York City.  In 2009, they selected PCUN and the Institute capital campaign as one of eight groups/projects to form a cohort of innovative social change grassroots fundraising.  More than 400 organizations had applied.

Last week, PCUN President Ramón Ramírez and Institute campaign donor coordinator Abel Valladares met in New York City with other cohort leaders from California, Washington, Colorado, Kentucky and New York.  A similar gathering had been held in December 2010 as well.  They shared experiences and successful practices; they problem-solved and checked realities.

The funders of the “3-D” Initiative provided incredibly generous support to each of the eight organizations, and with it, the freedom to be bolder, to try unfamiliar strategies, and to build new alliances.  For PCUN and the Institute, the Initiative orchestrated exciting new relationships with Make the Road New York in New York City and with GIFT, the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training, based in Oakland, CA.

These connections are already yielding tangible outcomes.  GIFT featured the Institute’s fundraising in Comunidades del Futuro, a new manual in Spanish which includes popular education training materials for understanding the non-profit and fundraising worlds and five brief case studies of Latino organizations’ fundraising.  GIFT also commissioned the essay “Dues Worth Paying” by PCUN Secretary-Treasurer Larry Kleinman for the 30th anniversary issue of the Grassroots Fundraising Journal published in September.  Larry described the principles and mechanics of PCUN’s membership dues and income system which has generated $2,000,000 in PCUN’s first quarter century.

Our participation in the 3-D Initiative will continue in 2012—and so will the fundraising in 3-D.  Meanwhile, you can make a very tangible (and tax-deductible) contribution to help wrap up the capital campaign by December 31st.  Go to the Institute’s new website, and click on the green “DONATE” button on the home page.

We offer a 2-D “thanks” until we can meet up in person.

Changing the look and the laws of Woodburn

Though the CAPACES Leadership Institute building is still a ways away from complete, it’s already changing the “look” of the town.

There’s the vaulting roof line launching out towards Young Street.  And the dozens of cubic yards of “growing medium”—special soil—which volunteers have lifted and spread onto the living roof on two recent Saturdays.

Today, the building’s fifteen-foot high north wall stares blankly at Young Street.  We envision that façade with a stunning 500-square foot mural.

But even if the building were finished today, we couldn’t paint it.  Outdoor murals are not allowed under Woodburn’s sign ordinance.  That’s where changing the laws comes in.

On Monday, November 14th, some 25 movement leaders and community members attended the Woodburn City Council’s regular second-Monday meeting at City Hall and waited for Mayor Kathy Figley to call out item 5c on the agenda.  It read simply, “murals.”  At our request, the Mayor had directed City staff to prepare a background briefing on mural ordinances in other Oregon towns and cities and she had informally surveyed Council members’ receptivity.

Muralist Hector Hernández presented images of his multi-story works which grace FHDC housing project in Salem and Independence.  Several young adults described their pride and satisfaction as participants in indoor mural projects.  The audience listened intently as Councilors batted around competing consideration—inspiring, tourist-attracting art vs. poor quality or “controversial” images.  The “First Amendment” was repeatedly cited.

To the central question “should the Council explore fashioning an ordinance?”, the consensus was a cautious “yes.”  They instructed the City Attorney to prepare a legal analysis and, legality permitting, signaled that the Planning Commission could iron out the details.  Community members are stepping forward to active engage this process.

The Institute will surely facilitate greater Latino civic participation in Woodburn and is already doing so, even before the Institute building has doors in place to open.  It could be that on November 14th, a future City Councilor caught his or her first glimpse of city government in action.  We may someday recall how, in 2011, our campaign for outdoor murals contributed to changing the look, the laws and the legislators in Woodburn.

Be sure to check out the latest construction photos


Work brigades continue most Saturdays.   Sign up to volunteer!