1997 a few Latinos recognized that no organization existed in the Western part of the state which fostered Latino Leadership or was lead by Latinos. ALAS began with just a few Latinos meeting to address issues which the community faces: language barriers, lack of access to services, and public safety. We realized our community was in need of better and more social services and because many of us were bilingual, and professionals or paraprofessionals, we were the natural bridge to communities.
ALAS’ monthly newsletter, La Pluma, was the first bilingual publication in the western part of the state. Monthly meetings with special speakers who address the critical issues the latino community faces were held. Some of the guests included elected officials, city/county department heads, and school superintendents.
2005 - ALAS was formed by a group of Latinx leaders interested in helping the Latinx communities of Western North Carolina be a part of the fabric, history, and life experiences of this community.
2008 - ALAS officially incorporated as a 501(c)3 in and has since played an active role in Latinx events across Western North Carolina.
2007- 2013 - ALAS was the lead organization supporting the annual Fiesta Latina festival held at the WNC Agricultural Center and in Downtown Asheville bringing thousands of people together to celebrate Latinx culture.
2013 - ALAS decided to no longer organize the festival and focus our energy in other areas. After all of Fiesta expenses were paid the board of directors voted to establish a scholarship for undocumented students who were not eligible for in-state tuition or Federal aid.
Every year since then ALAS has gifted $1,000 scholarships to undocumented Latinx students at AB Tech.
2014 - ALAS reached a crossroads of whether to close it’s doors or continue on. With the efforts of a few dedicated community, ALAS continued with a new mission, re-vamped and re-energized. We welcomed a new board of directors to re-vision the organization’s programs and focus, created our current mission statement, as well as, program ideas to support our mission.
2015 - 2016 ALAS revamped and revived became what we affectionately refer to as ALAS 2.0. We worked to strengthen capacity and sustainability by investing in board development and training via a grant from Hispanics in Philanthropy. We created a fund development plan, built transparent financial management systems, and designed a succession plan for board member transitions. By creating a solid nonprofit foundation, ALAS is better equipped to fulfill its mission of developing Latinx leadership and educational access.