2016 NCLR Annual Conference: Day One Recap

Today we kicked off our 2016 NCLR Annual Conference in Orlando. The day was filled with workshops, the opening of the National Latino Family Expo, and a speech from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Below are some highlights from the first day of our biggest event of the year.

Our first day started bright and early with a session on our legislative victories over the past year.

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Learn How to #StopTheDebtTrap at Our Annual Conference in Orlando

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We’re going to Orlando this year for the 2016 NCLR Annual Conference. While the Sunshine State has many attractions to offer its visitors and residents, payday loans are not among them.

Readers of our “Truth in Payday Lending” series may recall a report that NCLR released with the Center for Responsible Lending that examined the failure of a state law that was designed to curb the negative effects of payday loans. The report shows payday lenders have stripped a staggering $2.5 billion in fees from Floridians since 2005. In 2015 alone, their shady lending practices yielded more than $300 million for the industry.

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Counting Down to the 2016 NCLR Annual Conference in Orlando

What do George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Melinda Gates, and Suze Orman all have in common? They’ve all spoken at the NCLR Annual Conference.

Every summer, Latinos from around the country come together for three days of powerful seminars, cutting-edge workshops, and engaging presentations at the largest gathering of its kind in the United States. Conference provides an opportunity for people in the business of social change to learn about pressing issues facing Latinos across the country. Attendees have the chance to connect with community leaders and form partnerships with community-based organizations.

Conference is also home to the NCLR National Latino Family Expo®, which provides countless free services like health care screenings and housing counseling for the local Latino community.

As we count down to convening in Orlando this July, here’s a look at our #TBT series that has been highlighting some of the powerful speakers at Conference through the years.
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Student Challenges Peers to Combat Negative Views of Latinos

We were greatly inspired by the students and youth we met last month at the 2015 NCLR Annual Conference. Their stories and accomplishments are a testament to the hard work and perseverance that characterize Latino communities across the country.

One of the young future leaders we met is Fernando Rojas, 2015 graduate and co-valedictorian at Fullerton Union High School in California. He recently joined a select group by being accepted to all eight Ivy League universities and decided to attend Yale. But it is his sincere feelings on the power of his generation to make change that show he has even greater goals ahead.

Fernando, the youngest of four children, saw his brothers graduate from high school and undertake postsecondary education. But he is the first to leave home for college. His parents, Raúl and María, immigrated from Jalisco, Mexico, and were not able to complete secondary education, so Fernando’s accomplishment “was a success for all of us, not just for me,” he says. “It was for my family—my aunts, uncles, cousins who helped me along the way. Recognizing their struggles was the motivation I needed.”

Familia First

The importance of familia is something Fernando finds to be an important shared experience among Latinos. “There are ups and downs, struggles, and hardships, but you have that support at home—and you have the support of a larger community,” he says.

Even though Yale is a long way from Fullerton, it is the place where he felt most at home. “I knew that I was going to be leaving my family in Southern California, and I found that at Yale,” where he says he got the sense of being part of “an inclusive family.”

Combating Negative Perceptions

Rojas is interested in pursuing Latin American studies at Yale and hopes to combine that with further studies in international law. He believes students of his generation who are applying to or attending college need to take on the “challenge” to change negative perceptions about immigrants in this country.

“We’re people that want to get educated. Our parents didn’t have that opportunity but they did want us to have that opportunity,” he says. “Taking those resources and being able to make the best of it is one of the best ways to show that we are a strong community, we have a voice, and we have important things to say.”