Valencia discusses the history and challenges of the Puerto Rican Congress of New Jersey (PRC). Valencia traces the history of the PRC back to the Civil Rights Movement and the riots that ensued, community action programs that followed, and the perception of neglect from those agencies by the Puerto Rican community of New Jersey. She continues with the convening of men who sought to resolve the problem: Héctor Rodríguez of Camden, Francisco “Paco” Rosa of Patterson, and José Augusto of Burlington County. With funds from the Republican administration of William T. Cahill, they called a statewide convention for Puerto Ricans to discuss issues in their local communities. Thousands of Puerto Ricans showed up at the Claridge Hotel in Atlantic City, October 1970, to do just that. The PRC was born out of that convention. Valencia tells of the establishment of the PRC as a statewide organization whose mission was to help grow locally based social service and advocacy agencies, how they did so, and their success. Valencia discusses challenges of the late 1980’s – early 1990’s: governmental “redirection” of funding, constant threat of defunding of social service organizations, and rounds of creative changes to remain pertinent for funding. She talks about being forced by circumstance into the adoption of the social entrepreneurship model for the PRC and finding a niche as a social benefit organization that does job placement and translations for children with special needs. The PRC now meets needs of the community while simultaneously raising profits to do other work for the community. That shift is a boon. The PRC is now more lucrative and is independent from censor. Valencia calls into question the government’s economic ability to continue to fund social services for the nation. She encourages all community-based organizations to adopt a social entrepreneurship model.
Puerto Rican Congress of New Jersey