Florida Expansion Builds HF’s Network of Agencies and Profile

When the Hispanic Federation was created a quarter century ago, the geographic focus of the organization centered on the Latino community-based organizations in New York City. Those organizations, many of which were created out of grassroots efforts to address problems of poverty, housing, education and health care in the city’s Hispanic neighborhoods. Our model of providing direct support to these organizations to strengthen their operations and to improve the ways in which they helped their communities has proved successful. While there is still much work to do in New York City, the benefits of the Hispanic Federation model are obvious and can well benefit Latinos in other parts of the country.

Confidence in our model is what drove us to open an office in Hartford, Connecticut two years ago. And, now this year, to expand into Florida, a goal that was achieved this past June.

Florida is home to the third largest Latino population in the United States. The state is also home to one of the most diverse Latino populations in the country. Despite its size and diversity, however, Latinos in Florida confront significant problems when it comes to health care, education, economic development and housing. All of this is to say Florida’s Latino nonprofit sector needs our support.

Hispanic Federation isn’t new to the “Sunshine State.” In 2012 we began to work in Florida as part of a broad effort to encourage enrollment in the Affordable Care Act. We came to know the state, meet and talk with its Latino leaders, and think about how our successful model of support for Latino nonprofits might benefit community-based organizations there. As always, we researched and debated among ourselves, among staff and board, funders and allies. Finally, we came up with a plan of action that will make Hispanic Federation an important and valuable resource to Florida and our Southeastern Latino community.

Leading our efforts in the region is Zoé Colón, formerly of the Hispanic Resource Center in Mamaroneck, NY. Zoé’s work with the Latino community in Westchester was exemplary and her more than 15 years of experience working in virtually every sector of the nonprofit community made her the sort of seasoned executive who understood the challenges facing nonprofit leaders better than most.

“We know the Latino nonprofit sector better than most,” said HF President José Calderón. “After looking closely at Florida and the Southeast, we knew there was a need for our expertise and that we could make an impact right away. Given the size of the region’s Latino population, our work there has the potential to serve as a local model of Latino community development and empowerment. For a quarter century, Hispanic Federation has faced serious challenges head on. This time is no different. Florida is the next frontier for Hispanic Federation and I couldn’t be more excited about our work there.”

For more information, Please contact Zoé Colón.