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Chapel Hill-Carrboro identity-based cultural centers provide resources for community

El Centro Hispano in Carrboro, N.C. on Aug. 8th, 2022. El Centro Hispano is one of many identity-based centers located in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro area.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro community is comprised of a wide range of cultural backgrounds, identities and lived experiences. 

The Daily Tar Heel has compiled a list of some of the identity-based cultural centers in the area as an introduction to the resources and opportunities they provide.

El Centro Hispano

With multiple locations throughout the Triangle, including 201 W. Weaver St. in Carrboro, El Centro Hispano primarily strives to strengthen and advance the Latinx community through equity and inclusion, according to its website. 

The center has five focus areas— education, economic development, community support, civic & community participation and community health. 

Some of the center’s initiatives and resources include connecting workers and employers in the area, teaching English as a second language, providing health support and promoting advocacy and self-sufficiency within the Latinx and Hispanic communities. 

Emilia Ismael-Simental, the manager of the civic & community participation department, said that although the organization is grounded in the Hispanic and Latinx communities, El Centro Hispano’s services are available to everyone.

Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association Community Center 

The Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association Community Center is a hub for residents of the historically Black Rogers-Eubanks neighborhood. The center offers after-school tutoring, a summer enrichment camp, a food pantry and advocacy and education programs with local government and school system members.

The center has been working in the community for almost 40 years and moved into its current location at 101 Edgar St. in 2014.

RENA hopes to both fight for environmental and social justice in its community and also support neighborhoods across the nation with knowledge and resources, Robert Campbell, the president of RENA, said. 

“We are city-grown, but we are nation-wide,” he said.

Sancar Turkish Cultural and Community Center

The Sancar Turkish Cultural and Community Center, located at 1609 E. Franklin St., strives to provide a space for American and Turkish people to widen their perspectives on each other’s cultures

Aziz Sancar and his wife, Gwen Sancar, co-founded the Aziz and Gwen Sancar Foundation in 2007. The community center opened in 2021.

Gwen Sancar said the center hosts educational exhibits and events and helps students and community members from Turkey adjust to life in the United States.

“It’s important to stress that the Sancar Center is open to everyone.” Gwen Sancar said. “The fact that it says it's a Turkish cultural center does not mean open only to Turks – it's open to everybody and we want non-Turks (to) come too, and come with an open mind and a perspective of learning.” 

Refugee Community Partnership

The Refugee Community Partnership is a volunteer-driven organization that works with migrant and refugee communities in Orange County to provide critical information and resources in their primary languages, its website states.

One of its initiatives is the Hive, a virtual space where RCP interpreters translate critical announcements and information into various languages to inform and support non-English-speaking communities. 

Through another initiative, RCP volunteers build relationships with local migrant residents, caring for their present needs, such as housing and employment and supporting their future goals, like attending college.

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Chapel Hill Islamic Center

The Chapel Hill Islamic Center is a mosque located at 103 Stateside Dr. in Chapel Hill. It is open daily for the Quran halaqa before Isha prayer. On Fridays it is open for the Juma Khutba and Prayer and on Sundays for Fajir prayer, khatira and then breakfast.

Jawad Syed, a junior at UNC, has attended Friday prayers at the center and said he believes having a mosque near campus is critical for Muslim students to build connections with others who understand their faith and experiences.

“To have that environment to go into and keep yourself grounded and revitalize your beliefs, your practices, your whatever it may be that’s dwindling elsewhere, that’s crucial for one to hold on to their identity,” Syed said.

The Marian Cheek Jackson Center

The Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History, located at 512 W. Rosemary St., works to record the past and preserve the future of Chapel Hill and Carrboro’s historically Black neighborhoods, according to its website.

The center achieves this mission through resources such as From the Rock Wall, a website that preserves the oral histories of long-time residents of the Northside neighborhood, with the goal of building up the Black community with reconciliation and equity.

The center also has various educational and community services. The Northside Neighborhood Initiative is a housing justice program that helps long-term residents keep their homes and preserves land for the neighborhood’s future community.

The Jackson Center also supports the Heavenly Groceries food bank, hosts neighborhood events for the Northside community to connect and offers a self-guided neighborhood audio tour called "Histories of Home: A Walk with Northside Neighbors."

Compass Center for Women and Families

The Compass Center for Women and Families provides services at the intersection of gender equity and economic justice. It offers domestic violence crisis and prevention services, referrals to community services, assistance with legal services, youth health programs and career and financial education, according to its website.

These services are available to people of all gender identities and socio-economic backgrounds. 

The Compass Center's 24/7 Domestic Violence Hotline can be accessed by calling (919) 929-7122. For other services, visit 210 Henderson St. in Chapel Hill or call (919) 968-4610.


@DTHCityState | 

Eliza Benbow

Eliza Benbow is the 2023-24 lifestyle editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as summer university editor. Eliza is a junior pursuing a double major in journalism and media and creative writing, with a minor in Hispanic studies.