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Empowering Latine/x Voices: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month 2023 

 “Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world.”  — Dolores Huerta 

Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15th to October 15th, is a time to reflect on and honor the countless contributions of Latine/x individuals to our community. One of the most powerful and impactful ways in which this contribution is manifest is through the empowerment ofLatine/x voices and uplifting of Hispanic leadership. In this blog, we will explore the significance of empowering these voices in ourcommunity and hear directly from Program Officer, Jenny Valdés Del Valle, as she continues to connect,convene, and collaborate with the Latinx community. 



Akilah: So, Jenny, I know you work hard to be an advocate and resource in connecting and convening our Latine/x population in Evanston. What has been the most rewarding aspect of this? 


Jenny:Historically, Latine/x voices have faced barriers to full participation in American society. These barriers include language, discrimination, limited access to education, healthcare and economic opportunities. Being able to speak directly to the community, hear their problems and strategize solutions together has been the most rewarding aspect of all of this.We at ECF strive to center the voices of those communities who we are trying to serve. We want to ensure our Hispanic community members sit at the table where community conversations are happening. “Nothing about us without us”. 


Akilah:Could you provide an example of this?  


Jenny:Of course!In our effort to be community conveners and catalyzers, ECF facilitates theLatine Leadership Group: A cohort of Latine-identifying leaders in the Social Services arenaofEvanston. This cohort originated as our leaders needed a space for resource-sharing, teambuilding, and learning together. Through this cohort, we hope to become a more cohesive network ofLatineleaders and service providers to better address community needs.    


Akilah:That’s amazing, and in so many ways speaks to a priority in our current strategic plan ofElevating Voicesin Evanston... 


Jenny:Absolutely! By empowering Latine/xLeadership voices we’re creating safe spaces for fellow Latine residents to see themselves reflected in leadership positions, which is a key element of inclusion.Amplifying Latine/x voices in these conversations serves as a reminder of the ongoing work required to advance racial equity in Evanston 


Akilah: What is one thing you want the Latine/x community to know in Evanston? 


Jenny: I want our community to know that we’re hereto learn from them and learn how to better serve them. The Evanston Community Foundation is a place to be heard and empowered, and we make community listening a practice. So, if you have concerns about your community, questions, or ideas to make it better- come to ECF! 


Akilah: Awesome. Can you also speak to the power of representation?


Jenny:  Yes, another impact of Empowering Latino voices is meaningful representation. Intentional, empowered representation and recognition, to ensure that our Latine residentsfeel seen and heard in all facets of our community.While we continue to embark on the journey of social justice, it is necessary to acknowledge past harm.As we embrace the rich, cultural heritage and history of these communities, we must also take the opportunity to have open discussions about the challenges faced by the Latine community. Whether it's in politics, entertainment, business, education, or any other sphere, representation matters. Representation fosters a sense of belonging and self-worth, and it sends a powerful message that diversity is an asset. 


As Hispanic Heritage Month 2023ends, let us remember the importance of empowering Latine voices. Let us recognize the diversity and richness of these voices, the significance of representation, and the need to break down barriers. Let us celebrate the cultural heritage that Hispanic communities bring to our nation and address the pressing issues that affect them. 


Empowering Latine voices is not only a celebration of Hispanic heritage but also an investment in our shared future. It is a recognition that when we uplift one group, we uplift all of society. So, let us come together during this special month and beyond to celebrate, support, and empower Latine voices. In doing so, we create a more just, vibrant, and inclusive Evanston for all.