Civic Group

Senderos provides a cultural and emotional home for Latinx immigrant families in Santa Cruz.

Years active: 20 years

Their story: Senderos (Spanish for pathways) was founded and is still led by native Oaxacan sisters Fe Silva-Robles and Dr. Nereida Robles as an after school youth dance class in 2001. They wanted Latinx youth to have equitable access to positive afterschool activities by connecting them to traditional cultural arts and supporting academic success for pathways to college and career.

Senderos has created annual events with many community partners that have become part of the fabric of Santa Cruz like the Vive Oaxaca Guelaguetza cultural festival, Latino Role Models Conference, and Día de los Muertos with the MAH. Now serving over 350 families, Senderos dancers and musicians perform 40 times annually reaching an audience of over 20,000. We bring art, culture, education, and community together to create pathways to a brighter future.

Fundraising focus: Senderos looks for resources to purchase traditional dance outfits and musical instruments to loan to low-income youth who otherwise would not have the access to performing arts activities. Additionally, Senderos seeks funds to support their college scholarship program for Senderos youth participants who will be first in their family to pursue higher education.

Fe Silva-Robles
Fe is the director of Senderos. She is a native of Santiago Laxopa, a village in Ixtlan located in the northern mountains of Oaxaca. She grew up speaking Zapotec, an indigenous language, which she now teaches in the UCSC Linguistics Department as part of the Humanities Institute Nido de Lenguas (Nest of Languages) project. She graduated from the Normal Rural “Vanguardia” of Tamazulapan, a public boarding school that taught her how to work in any environment and with all types of communities. Fe earned a degree as an elementary teacher with a minor in dance in Mexico. She learned Spanish in elementary school and learned English at 36 years of age when she moved to the United States. As a bilingual School-Community Coordinator for the Santa Cruz City School District she is aware of the community’s many needs. Along with her sister Nereida, Fe started the organization in 2001 after seeing that immigrant families have huge challenges in staying connected to their culture.

Senderos keeps the immigrant community connected to their cultural roots and gives our youth a positive pathway to achieve their dreams.

— Fe