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Mission Statement

CARECEN empowers and responds to the needs, rights, and aspirations of Latino, immigrant and under-resourced families in the San Francisco Bay Area, building community leadership to pursue equity and justice.


Established by Salvadoran political exiles and refugees in 1986,CARECEN is an immigrant family wellness and empowerment agency that provides direct services while building community leadership for long-term systemic change. Most of our clients are recent immigrants who are raising families on incomes under the federal poverty line.


Monsignor Óscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, was an outspoken defender of the poor and victims of repression during the Salvadoran civil war. He was murdered by the military while celebrating mass on March 24, 1980. During his lifetime, Monsignor Romero was at the forefront of the Salvadoran social justice struggle. Today, he provides CARECEN with inspiration and guidance as we work to build a more just and equitable world.


Community Organizing is a thread that runs through all our programs. We tackle issue as diverse as juvenile justice and racial profiling. Moreover, our Family Advocacy Program is specifically dedicated to providing families with the skills and resources they need to become engaged in civic life.

Immigration Legal -- Through a combination of direct legal services, community outreach, and advocacy, our Immigration Legal Program helps Latino immigrants know, defend, and avail themselves of their legal rights. The program serves more than 9,000 low-income immigrants each year and reaches thousands more through community workshops and regular appearances in the Spanish-language media.

Health & Wellness -- We also teach and model healthy living. Our Cuerpo Sano/Healthy Bodies afterschool obesity and diabetes prevention program helps participants adopt habits of good nutrition and physical exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle. We also train women in the community to serve as peer educators (promotoras, in Spanish) promoting healthy living to prevent obesity and diabetes. In addition, we conduct dental screenings and oral health education in local public schools.

Youth Violence Prevention -- The Second Chance Tattoo Removal Program saves lives by helping youth and young adults abandon gangs and abusive domestic relationships. We remove visible tattoos that pose a threat to youth's safety and constitute a barrier to employment, and provide them with the skills, knowledge, and resources needed to achieve self-empowerment and personal growth.



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