El Sol Neighborhood Education Center
El Sol Neighborhood Educational Center recently celebrated more than two decades of transforming lives and communities. We are only growing stronger in our commitment and mission impact. El Sol began humbly in 1991, under the leadership of founding executive director Lilia Ramirez and collaborators such as Gil Navarro and Marlon Portillo, applying the empowerment principles of popular education in “English as a Second Language” (ESL) classes, to enable marginalized immigrants to overcome linguistic barriers and transform their lives. From this foundation, her successor Susana Negrete led El Sol to undertake the next logical step for the people it served by becoming one of two agencies in the region accredited to offer preparation classes for the U.S. Citizenship Exam. Susana herself started out as a student in the ESL courses, and attests to the transforming effect it had on her life: “There are so many things that once you get empowered, you change not yourself but people around you.” In the last eighteen years, El Sol has sustained principles of education for individual and community empowerment by using a community health worker model, in the arena of community-based health education. With programs in nutrition, mental health, domestic violence, and other areas, we have seen the power of trusted peers and community members raise awareness, dispel stigma, and enable people to get the support and services they need. Throughout these 27 years, El Sol has maintained a clear mission of empowering its community to lead healthy and comfortable lives. With the use of community health workers, they have access to health care, safe and affordable housing, opportunities for education, and the leadership skills to eliminate disparities. To accomplish this mission, El Sol’s goal is to provide culturally and linguistically competent services that promote and maintain the well being of the community. The coming years promise a deepening and broadening of our impact covering the entire Spectrum of Prevention. Building from our foundation of individual, family, and community-level work, we are strategically pursuing opportunities to provide leadership to the fields of health promotion, impact service delivery systems, and advocacy for systemic policy change. We welcome you as you come with us on this journey through the Spectrum of Prevention, and hope that you will accompany us in the strong foundation we are laying for the next 23 years or more of El Sol’s transformational community impact.