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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Webinar: Improving Latino Health through Community Healthy Drinks Initiatives

Join the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) for a webinar about exciting national and local efforts to improve access to healthy drinks where Latino children live, learn, and play!  Speakers will highlight successful efforts from across the country to improve beverage choices in schools and other community settings.  This conversation will also look at the importance of these opportunities in promoting a healthy environment for Latino children and families.

Register here to join!

When: September 30, 2015 from 2:00–3:00 p.m. EDT


Three Things to Look Forward to at the 2015 NCLR Health Summit

Health Summit picWith less than two weeks to go before the 2015 Health Summit in San Antonio, we’d like to share what Health Summit attendees can expect at this year’s gathering.

The 2015 NCLR Health Summit will focus on the “built environment,” or the places we live, work, and play that affect our health. Speakers will discuss their experiences in harnessing the built environment to promote mental and physical well-being. Here are three things attendees can expect from the 2015 NCLR Health Summit:

1.  Attendees will learn about how the built environment affects our health. 

Having sidewalks in a neighborhood increases the likelihood that residents will be physically active. Other factors and places not traditionally associated with health also have an impact on well-being. Sessions such as “Health at Home: Lessons Learned in Working toward Healthier Housing” and “Healthy Schools, Health Communities” will focus on how places where we spend so much of our time can promote health.

2.  Gain insight from best practices and model health programs that are effective in Hispanic communities. 

Throughout the Summit, we will have NCLR Affiliates and other organizations share real-life examples of the work they are doing in different arenas. For example, Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe, an Affiliate based in El Paso, Texas, will be sharing the work they do to promote health while working with the values of the Latino community. Representatives from the American Heart Association will share their advocacy experiences in making sure all Texans have access to fresh fruit and vegetables.

3.  Get hands-on advocacy training to bring about change in our communities and improve Latino health. 

This year, the Summit will feature two hands-on advocacy trainings. Robyn Orth of Eli Lilly and Company will lead digital advocacy training. Learn techniques for different digital strategies for organizations of all sizes. In addition, she will share tips for using new social media, such as Snapchat, in advocacy efforts. Alexandra Harris from the National Association of Community Health Centers will lead grassroots advocacy training. Attendees will have an opportunity to practice their advocacy skills during this session using real-life examples.

Are you ready to hear from community leaders and gain valuable skills with us in San Antonio? Registration is still open; discounts are available for NCLR Affiliates and students. We’ll see you there!

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.”

Bringing the Credit-Invisible into the Light


The Mission Asset Fund (MAF) is a San Francisco nonprofit that works to expand access to financial services, savings, and investment opportunities for low-income and working-poor families. The organization was established in 2007 to combat financial exclusion in the Latino community and among other underrepresented groups, and was a co-winner of the NCLR Family Strengthening Award at this year’s NCLR Annual Conference in Kansas City.

MAF has formalized the process of Lending Circles, in which a small number of people agree to lend money to each other at no interest, by having registered participants’ payments reported to the national credit bureaus. This helps people who may not otherwise have had access to get into the mainstream financial system, says Ximena Arias, Financial Services Manager at MAF.

“The CFPB [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau] released a report that said that 45 million adults in the U.S. are credit-invisible in the financial system. It’s a catch-22 scenario where if you don’t have credit you can’t get access to credit,” she says.

“A credit report is like a passport to the financial marketplace,” said José Quiñonez, CEO of Mission Asset Fund, in a 2014 New York Times article. “Without that passport, you’re denied entry.”

The process can help those who have specific goals in mind, such as paying the application fee to become a citizen. That was the case for Karla Henriquez, who has experienced the process both as a participant and as the Programs Coordinator for MAF.

“I got my mom, my sister, and I to join the Lending Circles for Citizenship program where we were able to make payments of $68 for 10 months,” she says.

Other Lending Circles programs facilitated by the Mission Asset Fund can be used to save for a deposit to rent an apartment or secure fees for a temporary work permit.

Arias says the organization also offers financial counseling and education to participants, and partners with more than 40 organizations in 14 states. Those interested in finding related services in their area can visit: