Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project
The Mixteco/Indígena Community Organizing Project (MICOP) aids, organizes, and empowers Ventura County's community of Mixtec and indigenous immigrants, estimated at 20,000 people. When MICOP began as an independent non-profit in 2001, Ventura County's agencies were barely aware of the county's large and growing Mixtec farmworker population. Mixtec farmworkers lacked access to services due to cultural barriers, limited fluency in Spanish and English, and low literacy rates. Today, MICOP trains indigenous leaders to improve the quality of life for the indigenous community through health and mental health outreach, interpretation, leadership classes, family services, women's support programs, community organizing and youth empowerment. A majority of MICOP's staff and volunteers are Mixtec former field workers. MICOP's structure reflects Mixtec values: decisions are made collectively, and many Mixtecs give their time in the spirit of tequio, indigenous community service. As a result of MICOP's work, Ventura County is now at the forefront of innovation for promoting access and cultural competency to meet the needs of the indigenous Mexican community.