Casa Latina is an educational and cultural center established more than 38 years ago by area Latinos to represent, celebrate, and advocate for the Latino community in Hampshire County. Today, the organization promotes Latino empowerment and cultural pride through its educational programming, its community activities, and its access services.
Casa Latina is the only Latino-led and Latino-focused organization in Hampshire County. Our mission is to promote self-sufficiency and a sense of community among local Latinos. We endeavor to fulfill this commitment by working directly with Latino residents to develop educational, access, and action programming based on the community’s capabilities and needs.
Growing with the community
As our community has grown and changed over the years, so has Casa Latina. The Latino population in Hampshire County has expanded significantly during the agency’s existence, and all demographic indicators point to its continued growth. In 1980, Latinos constituted 1.25% of the county’s population. Today, in Amherst and Northampton – the county’s most heavily populated municipalities – Latinos comprise, respectively, 6.2% and 5.2% of the population. In the Amherst and Northampton schools, Latino children represent 11.8% and 11.2% of overall enrollment.
According to census data, there was a 34.1% increase in Hampshire County’s Latino population between 1990 and 2000, while the general population grew only 3.9%. We know that the increase in the Latino population is, in actuality, even greater than the data indicate, since there is a significant but uncounted percentage of Latinos here without legal documentation whose presence goes undetected in official statistics. The statistics are quite accurate, however, in their portrayal of the Latino community – locally as well as across the state – as constituting a disproportionate sector of the significantly disadvantaged. For almost four decades, Casa Latina has served as a refuge and a resource for this growing Latino community.