Project Overview


EL PASAPORTE PARA EL MERCADO is a coupon booklet that uses a combination of discounts, storytelling, and other unique incentives to drive visibility and increase patronage of the Latino-owned businesses associated with the Portland Mercado. El Pasaporte holders will learn about Latino food, culture, and local business owners along the way. And a percentage of the profits from El Pasaporte sales will be donated directly to the Portland Mercado to reinforce our mission of supporting POC-owned businesses.

The Challenge

El Pasaporte Para El Mercado is nearly ready to print and be on sale in Portland, a foodie city that values community and believes in supporting local business and creating a inclusive environment. There is a large market eager to support POC-owned businesses and learn about different cultures and culinary choices. 

El Pasaporte Project believes that many people in Portland value cultural exchange and want to build relationships with the vendors working at the Portland Mercado, and believe in the organization's mission of social and economic justice.


the social impact lab design challenge:

How might we creatively market and distribute El Pasaporte para el Mercado and stay true to its collaborative, community-based roots?


About the Project Lead

Mariel Alvarado, is a Venezuelan-American graphic designer and former community health professional. She holds degrees from Lewis & Clark College and the Pacific Northwest College or Art. Her time as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nicaragua and working in health and social services in the Portland area developed her strong understanding of social and health inequities locally and abroad. She uses art and design to engage youth, reach underserved populations, and communicate health information through popular education and by designing publications for domestic and international non-profits. She is passionate about driving the social missions of humanitarian aid organizations in New York, DC, Portland, and her heart is set on supporting the Latino community in her hometown, Portland.

Her personal connection to Venezuela, her love for arepas, and her professional experience all inspire her current work on El Pasaporte Project, a social enterprise aimed at economically empowering vendors at Portland’s only Latino market, the Portland Mercado.


Project History


El Pasaporte Project is an idea born from a human-centered design workshop in New York City in 2017. The founder, Mariel Alvarado, applied a design thinking methodology to create an initial idea that addressed the issue of food access and economic security for Latinos in Portland. With the help of a social impact amplifier, she developed the idea, and received interest in participation from the Portland Mercado. Mariel has implemented a process of co-creation with the vendors through the development of El Pasaporte. El Pasaporte has been presented as a human-centered design project in several workshops and classes in Portland and New York City, in which she has tested prototypes to gather feedback to further develop iterations of El Pasaporte.

Watch Mariel provide a preview of the Social Impact Lab project (Video Length: 25 minutes)


More from Mariel

What does success look like?

When the residents of Portland embrace the use of El Pasaporte, are long-term patrons of the Portland Mercado, and intentionally seek out authentic Latin American food, we will be successful.


What are you most excited about?

I am passionate about economic empowerment of Latinos in my community. Being Venezuelan-American, I grew up eating Venezuelan food but also enjoy the food prepared by friends from many other Latin American cultures. I believe immigrants have so much to share with the Portland community and want to do whatever I can to empower other immigrants through my skills in design and community engagement.


More Details

Sponsor Information
El Pasaporte Project


Partner Information
Portland Mercado


For questions about the Social Impact Lab, contact lab organizers directly.