It's Hispanic Heritage Month. For the latest This Is New England, Latoyia Edwards is talking about a really important topic as census data shows that the LatinX population is really growing quickly here in Massachusetts.
Juana Matias, Chief Operating Officer of MassInc: At MassInc we're doing so much to amplify the needs of the Latino community across the state when it comes to education. We're working tirelessly around early college. We know Latino students are three times less likely to complete their post-secondary studies.
So, we're working to ensure that they have a pathway from high school into college that really gives them the support to not just enroll in college, but complete college and enter the workforce successfully. We're also really committed to the education space around diversifying the teaching pipeline. Let's make sure our students have access to teachers who look like them, who understand them and can really teach them in a culturally competent way.
Latoyia Edwards: Evelyn, we’ve got to bring you in here. We want to amplify LatinX voices. What can you add to that?
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Evelyn Barahona, Executive Director of the Latino Equity Fund: At the Latino Equity Fund, our focus has been on how to sort of elevate the issues that are most impacting Latino sectors, specifically around the nonprofit sector, serving the Latino community. And for us, it's been about our framework.
So, we're like the first and only philanthropic fund in Massachusetts. And our focus has been on, ‘How do we make the most impact in the Latino non-profit community, but also elevate issues?’.
And I think when we first started, we started as a grant-making entity, which was traditionally dispersing funds. We later expanded our platform to include convenings and also commission reports for spotlighting issues most impacting Latinos.
More Hispanic Heritage Month
Latoyia Edwards: Juana, I have to ask you, what's your message to both folks who are in and outside of the Latinx community, as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?
Juana Matias: Latoyia, I’m an Afro-Latina. So for me, this month is so important. It's a time for me to really step back, look at everything we've accomplished, look ahead of what still needs to be done. It's a celebration of our history, our culture, our food…So I encourage everyone to take this moment with their families.
Latoyia Edwards: Well, Evelyn, we talked about celebration. You just heard from Juana as well. What's your message to folks in and outside the LatinX community as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?
Evelyn Barahona: You know, representation matters. And sometimes when you don’t see yourself present, it's, you know, you don't realize the impact it has. And I think having something like the Hispanic heritage sort of helps draw out and celebrate the contributions of so many Latinos in many, many facets. And also, it's like a reminder to everyone, especially those that are not Latino. It's like, hey, we were part of the American fabric. And this is what makes the United States such a unique country.
For the complete interview, watch the video above.