The former site of Paroba College of Cosmetology is seen Monday, March 25, 2024, in Everett, Washington. The site is slated to become a home to Latino Educational Training Institute. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

The former site of Paroba College of Cosmetology is seen Monday, March 25, 2024, in Everett, Washington. The site is slated to become a home to Latino Educational Training Institute. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

New Latino community center in south Everett gets $3.8M from state

Latino Educational Training Institute founder Rosario Reyes hopes the center will steer Latino youth in a positive direction.

EVERETT — With millions in new state money, a local nonprofit is a step closer to reaching more of Snohomish County’s growing Latino population.

The Latino Educational Training Center, based in Lynnwood, has big plans.

Currently, the nonprofit occupies a small office space a block from the Edmonds College campus.

In small, sometimes cramped classrooms, training center staff administer GED tests in Spanish, while also teaching English language classes and computer training classes. The compact class sizes limit how many people can use the center’s services.

But by 2026, the center hopes to be fully operating a 15,000-square-foot facility in south Everett, with a commercial kitchen, several classrooms, a child care center and a large space for events like quinceañeras.

In the state’s supplemental capital budget, legislators allocated $3.8 million for its new project, called the Incubator for Family Success.

Gov. Jay Inslee signed the state budget into law Friday.

All the money will go to buying a building on Evergreen Way, said Tom Laing, the center’s director of operations.

The crown jewel of the space will be a 6,000-square-foot events center, where young Latinos could retain their culture, improve their self-esteem and stay safe, said the center’s CEO and founder Rosario Reyes.

Reyes hopes the center will make young people more a part of a community.

“At this moment in Snohomish County, the fight is how do we get young people out of guns or drug use,” she said.

Little by little, young Latinos could instead get involved with more positive crowds, like a mariachi band or dance group, Reyes said.

To expand its current education programs, the center’s new building will feature a private vocational school, where people can obtain professional licenses, learn entrepreneurship and even obtain microloans.

Reyes believes the school will broaden the reach of the center’s existing classes that have been running for four years online and in-person.

Currently, the center offers classes on office assistance and bookkeeping. Reyes said the classes focus on “microentrepreneurs” like landscapers who can use the classes to improve their independent businesses.

This year, the Legislature passed a bill allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain professional licenses. Inslee signed it last month, saying it will open doors to more career opportunities for many residents.

To get the project up and running, the training center has relied on grants and donations to meet its funding goals.

The state money is a huge help in acquiring the property, Laing said, but he wants to eventually become a self-sustaining operation once the incubator comes online.

A commercial kitchen and cafe, a big part of the new facility, is designed to generate revenue, and allow some to get a head start in developing their own business.

In the kitchen, people can spend time making their own food, like tamales and enchiladas, Reyes said. Then, they can choose to sell their product on their own, or the center will gladly buy their food to resell in the cafe.

“We will be their first customer for them,” Laing said. “Which for a lot of people is a big barrier to overcome when you go into business.”

Classes are taught in a mix of Spanish and English, depending on the group’s needs. For Reyes, the bilingual and bicultural education is the best way to empower Snohomish County’s Latino population.

According to the U.S. Census, nearly 100,000 residents in Snohomish County identify as Hispanic or Latino. In 2000, that number was just under 30,000.

“By giving them that opportunity to feel that the information comes from people that speak like them, that went through the same tribulations,” Reyes said, “it helps.”

Jenelle Baumbach: 360-352-8623; jenelle.baumbach@heraldnet.com; Twitter:@jenelleclar.

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