Setting the Agenda
Our team has been very busy this year helping to identify the key issues facing our diverse communities, and crafting strategies alongside our partners and member agencies to address them. Indeed, we have packed in a lot into a relatively short period of time: organizing congressional briefings in our headquarters, policy days in state capitals, community town halls, advocacy trainings, large-scale conferences and summits, and working with our grassroots leaders to advance a change, unity and progress agenda.
Here are just a few examples of how we have worked to protect and promote the interests of our community and nation.
In March, we hosted our annual Hispanic Education Summit (HES) -- one of the nation’s premier gatherings of educational experts, community leaders, parents, students and policymakers committed to advancing best practices and needed reforms aimed at strengthening Latino student outcomes and opportunities. Over 250 community leaders, educators, parents, researchers and policymakers came together at the summit to help shape and drive an action agenda focused on supporting public schools and closing the achievement gap.
The work done at the HES has helped inform the launch of LEAD, an education coalition of diverse community leaders that is taking our educational change priorities and recommendations straight to legislators and policymakers.
This year for the first time we also partnered with leading Latino academic research centers at The City University of New York to bring rigorous research to bear on some of our community’s most pressing issues. The Summit on Latinos (SOL) Conference in June, brought together the New York City Council leadership, the Hispanic Federation, Center for Puerto Rican Studies, the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, and the Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute to address issues ranging from education to immigration to business development. More than 200 advocates, activists, and allies joined together for this one-day conference to examine the challenges and opportunities facing New York City’s Latino community, assess policy priorities, and develop an action agenda for today and tomorrow.
In June we organized a Congressional Delegation Briefing at our headquarters in NY to discuss policy issues with an amazing group of social justice leaders. HF is actively working with this group of African American, Latino, Asian, Muslim, and LGBTQ leaders to help shape a People of Color Agenda in New York and nationally.
We have also taken LGBT causes to heart through innovative convenings like FUERZAfest. In May, FUERZAfest took up residence in the Julia de Burgos Latino Cultural Center in East Harlem to provide twelve days of programming around issues of LGBT rights. At the center of the programming was the festival’s one-act play theater showcase, which touched upon race, gender and civil rights issues affecting the LGBT community. In August, FUERZAFest heads to Connecticut where it will bring its unique brand of theater, panel discussions, and workshops to support Latino LGBT communities but also help strengthen the bonds between LGBT communities and allies. Our Florida FUERZAfest will follow shortly thereafter in late September.
Of course, this is just a small sampling of the work. The truth is that it takes a lot of effort to set and carry out an agenda that speaks to the hopes and aspirations of our children, families and institutions. It takes a consistent and steady dose of coalition-building, policy research, community outreach and engagement, and passion for justice and progress. It all comes together at the Hispanic Federation, and that is in no small part thanks to the dedication and leadership of our staff, grassroots agencies, donors and community partners.