By Lauren Lipton

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Congreso is an organization focusing on the fast-growing Latino community in the Philadelphia area.

“We are a multi-service organization. We focus on four core areas: education, employment, health, and  social services,” says Congreso president and CEO Cynthia Figueroa.

“We also have a number of folks who just walk through the door needing help with any number of issues — like mortgage counseling, housing counseling,  foreclosures issues,” she adds, “and we try to connect them with the multitude of services that we offer.”

Figueroa says many Latinos are picking Philadelphia as their new home.

“This is a family centered  community.  The majority of  the Latino population in Philadelphia is still predominantly Puerto Rican, so you have folks that are more transient in terms of the ability to come back and forth without visa issues.  Plus, there is a tremendous amount of small business opportunity here.”

For example…

“If you drive up 5th Street there are a number of bodegas, which are small markets, what we think of as the mini family, mom-and-pop shops — the equivalent of a corner store Wawa. They have a little bit of everything.  There are also a ton of bakeries and food places.”


mofongo Positively Philadelphia:  Congreso, Serving the Local Latino Community

(The Puerto Rican plantain dish known as "mofongo." This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Credit: Photog Diane)


And, Figueroa says, one of the foods you must try is “mofongo (above), which is mashed green plantains that have been boiled, and usually mixed with pork, sometimes shrimp, depending on the chef.”

Hear Lauren Lipton’s full interview with Cynthia Figueroa in this CBS Philly podcast…

Download the podcast for listening anytime (runs 9′ 06″)

For more information about Philadelphia’s vibrant Latin community and the social services available to them, go to

And that’s “Positively Philadelphia!”

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