Assemblymember Rivera Secures $25,000 in State Funding for Programs at El Batey Puerto Rican Center

Money will be used to support youth and cultural programming, and will help build bridges within Buffalo’s Puerto Rican community

BUFFALO, NY – Assemblymember Jon D. Rivera announced today that he has secured $25,000 in state funding for the El Batey Puerto Rican Center. The funds will be used to support youth and cultural programming, dance, music, and physical fitness classes, as well as social programs at the non-profit.

As the only Latino in the New York State Assembly north of New York City, Assemblymember Rivera strongly believes in El Batey’s mission to celebrate, inspire, and connect kids to their Puerto Rican heritage through a robust offering of educational and culturally enriched programming.

Founded in 2017, the primary concertation of the center, according to El Batey Founder and Executive Director Beatriz Flores, is to facilitate a designated space in which Puerto Rican culture and heritage can be both preserved and recognized, while maintaining a tether to the community’s home island nearly 2,000 miles away.

El Batey offers year-round programing which includes cultural dance and percussion classes for both kids and adults. Participants learn the rich history and connections of their African and Indigenous descent through these cultural expressions called “Bomba” and “Plena.” Students also learn about their responsibility to their community and their people.
The center also offers a self-defense class twice a week based on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with a focus on self-control and anger management. While learning techniques to protect themselves, kids and adults examine principles that help to remove fixed mindsets and replace it with language using growth mindset language in relation to their abilities, attitudes, humility, courage, and skill challenges.

El Batey further offers weekly social emotional lessons that focus on teaching kids and their parents nonviolent communication. Together, the family learns the skills to express themselves honestly and to empathically receive difficult messages — skills that are necessary for long term healthy relationships within a nuclear family structure.

With a very small staff and volunteer base, El Batey represents the best traits inherent in Buffalo’s non-profits by resiliently overcoming logistical challenges to offer a robust series of programs for youth within an area that is historically underfunded. This funding, secured by Assemblymember Rivera as part of the 2023 Legislatives Initiatives Funding process within the New York State Assembly, will allow El Batey to continue that programming while expanding opportunities for a new generation of Buffalo’s Puerto Rican youth.

Assemblymember Jon D. Rivera said, “As the only Latino Assemblymember north of New York City and as someone of proud Puerto Rican heritage, El Batey and its mission are profoundly relevant to me. I am extremely fulfilled to be able to secure this funding for the center and its programming, as I know it will greatly expand El Batey’s ability to reconnect Buffalo’s Puerto Rican population to its homeland.”

Executive Director of El Batey Beatriz Flores said, “The work of El Batey is effectively ensuring that 100 years from now, our history, culture and traditions are completer and more accessible for future generations. It guarantees that years from now there will be entirely new generations with full knowledge and understanding of their history, but also a deep sense of love and value for their heritage, their traditions and culture. As children of the Puerto Rican diaspora and as a historically colonized people, cultural and ancestral knowledge is essential to our survival. I thank Assemblymember Rivera for his support in providing us this crucial funding.”