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Central American Resource Center- Carecen

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Ethnic & Immigrant Centers, Homeless & Housing, Homeowners & Tenants Associations, Human Service Organizations, Human Services, Immigration

Mission: To foster the comprehensive development of the latino population/ community in the washington metropolitan region by providing direct service, while promoting grassroots empowerment, civic engagement and human rights advocacy.

Programs: Housing - provides technical assistance to tenants in forming tenant associations as well as comprehensive housing counseling, financial literacy and credit counseling, pre-purchase and foreclosure prevention counseling, as well as paralegal assistance in tenant/landlord issues.

legal and counseling - provides immigration legal counseling and assistance in completing a variety of immigration applications including family petitions, adjustment of status, work permits, consulate processing, asylum and citizenship.

citizenship and civic participation - community empowerment, leadership training and educational workshops are offered to eligible legal permanent residents and newly-naturalized citizens to educate them about language access, school systems, and citizen rights, including voter registration and civic engagement.

Community Stories

4 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Rating: 5

This past Spring Semester, I had the privilege of working with the most passionate people I have ever had the honor of meeting. Being from out of state, I never would have imagined to feel right at home. I knew the second I came across the CARECEN DC web page that this is where I needed to be. To be working with people who want and do make a difference in the community, to be working with family. Being an intern for the Citizenship and Civic Engagement program has been beyond rewarding, from tutoring and helping students prepare for their naturalization interview to being there when they receive their graduation certificate after a class session has ended and accompanying them to interpret at the immigration office. Nothing beats witnessing someone’s hard work pay off. The best part was not only helping them learn, but learning so much from them and hearing stories about their hometowns and first-hand accounts of the civil wars that occurred in Central America, things I studied and read about in my college classes. I was and continue to be lured in to this amazing community of people whose spirit I will always carry with me wherever my journey leads. I am so excited to still be working at CARECEN throughout the summer and cannot wait to see the difference everyone at CARECEN has made in the community in the years to come.

Review from Guidestar


Rating: 5

I had the pleasure of working at CARECEN as an intern in the Community Support Services department during the summer of 2013. I can’t believe the time has flown so quickly, but as my summer at CARECEN comes to an end, I want to sincerely thank the entire staff for giving me the opportunity to work with and learn from this amazing organization. Coming in, I had no experience working in this field, but now I can say I have learned so much about the Latino community in this area, the problems they face, and the possible solutions that we can facilitate. I feel much better prepared to pursue a career in this kind of work – thank you all for taking a chance on me and teaching me so much. I have gotten everything out of this experience that I had hoped and more, and I hope I was a help to you all along the way. Thank you again for allowing me to learn, grow, and challenge myself alongside this wonderful organization that does such important work, it’s been an unforgettable experience!

Review from Guidestar


Rating: 4

I became involved in CARECEN in 2011 when I volunteered as the summer communications intern. I worked on the newsletter, helped with letters requesting donations and helped standardize the staff’s email signatures. I found the posting for a communications internship through idealist.org, but I had previously noticed the organization while passing through Columbia Heights.

I was immediately surprised by how small the staff was. I was also impressed by all the work they got done! CARECEN was originally founded to serve Central American refugees of conflicts in the 1980s. It now provides low and moderate-income Latinos in the DC area with a wide range of services, such as legal help in response to unjust firings, citizenship education classes and legal advice about immigration issues. CARECEN’s evolution from a focus on refugee issues to the comprehensive development of DC area Latinos shows how CARECEN is united with the DC Latino community. CARECEN doesn’t hold itself above or apart from the people it serves. Rather, it works both for and with its clients.

I had never volunteered or interned for a nonprofit, so I really appreciated getting to see how a nonprofit functions. My supervisors always seemed interested in what I was doing, even when their hectic schedules made it hard to find time to meet. Finally, I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to such a valuable organization. I expect to see CARECEN grow alongside the Latino community for many more years.

Review from Guidestar

Sarah d.


Rating: 5

When I first volunteered at CARECEN three years ago, I didn't intend to spend a significant amount of time with the organization. I was going to teach one session of citizenship classes to meet my school's community service requirement, and be done with it. Looking back, I can't help but laugh. What was originally intended to be ten weeks turned into what I know will be a life-long committment.

During the last three years, I have not only taught six ten-week sessions of citizenship classes, I have also provided volunteer translation and interpretation services, assisted with administrative tasks, and helped staff citizenship workshops. I also had the amazing opportunity to participate in CARECEN's semester-long Citizenship and Civic Participation Internship, where I was able to get to know the organization from an even more in-depth perspective.

CARECEN is a "one-stop shop" for immigrants in the Washington, DC area. In addition to citizenship-related services, the organization also addresses housing, employment, and discrimination issues. The impressive legal staff handles all kinds of cases, though the majority have to do with clients' immigration struggles. Each person employed by the organization demonstrates daily the kind of passion only felt by the truly dedicated.

I am proud to say that they have passed some of their dedication on to me. Working with CARECEN has inspired me to pursue my legal education, where I am following a concentration in immigration law. And even though I now live several hundred miles away from Washington, DC, I still keep in regular contact with the staff and many of the clients. Although I cannot be at CARECEN in person, I continue to provide assistance with translations, and anything else that I can do from a distance.

This non-profit organization embodies the highest standards of excellence, and is one of the greatest assets available to the immigrant community of Washington, DC. As a volunteer, intern, and friend, I give CARECEN my highest commendation.

Review from Guidestar