b&b172 Prosperity Now: Empowering a New Generation of Americans with Hispanic Unity

Hispanics now make up almost 1 in 4 Floridians. The majority of Floridian Hispanics live in Miami-Dade and Broward county. There are 37.6 million people who speak Spanish at home, and more than half of these individuals speak English very well. What Hispanic Unity offers immigrants are the tools necessary to cement their lives in America. They offer education for children and adults, Citizenship & Naturalization, and immigration/legal services. Although they are located in Miami, the work they accomplish in this county can be instrumental to any non profit.

This is part of our monthly series Prosperity Now, where we interviewing non profit organizations who are part of Building High Impact Non Profits of Color.
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Music featured in this episode:
1). Young, Hispanic, and Gifted – The Real Nobody
2). Nuestras Fiestas – Pizko MC
3). Latinos Unidos -Skalpel (La K-Bine) & Mc Luka

Episode Highlights:

Ingrid Ekblad: I’ve seen so many different American Dreams. Some folks just wanna be able to come into the country, establish themselves, learn the language, and just start their lives. Other folks are more driven, further down the road for homeownership and wealth building, and of course to become citizens. That seems to be the connection between all of them, is to become American citizens and have a voice, because in many other countries they came from they did not have a voice.

Felipe Pinzon: Other services that bring clients to Hispanic Unity are the free tax preparation program. We serve about 6,000 families every year.

Ingrid Ekblad: On an average it’s about $6 million in refunds back into the community, not including of course the money we saved ‘cause they don’t have to pay cause it’s free.

Felipe Pinzon: Our citizenship program serves about 3,000 clients throughout the year. The English classes bring about 1,000 to Hispanic Unity.

Felipe Pinzon: Almost 15,000-17,000 clients, yeah, on an annual basis.

Felipe Pinzon: One of the [key issues] is the language. Another one is understanding the systems, whether it’s the financial system or the health system, even the educational system. It’s not just taking your children to school but how schools work. …Employment becomes that challenge, many times, that doesn’t help the clients actually  move forward and achieve financial stability, and if you are not financially stable, many other issues will come.

Felipe Pinzon: Seek assistance out of their comfort zone of the group. Go to your local non-profit, regardless of what you believe you need, just go out and actually seek assistance. Sometimes, no, many times, we don’t know what we just don’t know, and then we don’t take action. So my advice would be go to your local non-profit, get engaged, find out what’s going on in your community, and by doing that you will find out about services and programs that are relevant and important to your family and friends.

Felipe Pinzon: We go to the community instead of asking the community to come to us.

Ingrid Ekblad: An on-going process for Hispanic Unity is making sure what we’re doing makes sense to the community and that we’re really addressing their needs, and then, as Fillipe mentioned, then the infrastructure comes in and makes sure that we’re doing this in a smart way.

Felipe Pinzon: Believe me even though we do a lot, there is a lot more we don’t..And we don’t go after…We let the other organizations do what they do well.

Ingrid Ekblad: I think for folks who are looking to become entrepreneurs, it’s really important for them to really map out what it is they wanna do and understand that there are resources out there that can take them through the steps, so that they are prepared to make a decision whether they wanna move forward or not, and they may wanna move forward but they need to understand that there’s, you know, who is your target audience? What product or service are you really trying to offer? What sets you apart from your competition? Have you done that kind of a scan? So for us it’s really just providing that education…We don’t want folks to jump into something that they’re not ready for.

Felipe Pinzon: Angela, she came to the United States back in 2011…When she came to Hispanic Unity she had no credit…She didn’t have a car but she wanted to buy a house…2 or 3 years later in 2014 she got her house…The story is how she got there…She’s still facing some challenges, but that’s one of those stories that even though you are an immigrant, and in so many cases you are a single mother, you still can make it.