The Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley: Empowering Latinos’ Lives through Education and Leadership Development

Hispanic Community May 2024 PREMIUM

The Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley empowers Latinos through education, leadership, and community engagement. Initiatives like the Latinos in Technology Scholarship Initiative address disparities in STEM fields, while programs like the Hispanic Foundation College Success Programs and Latino Board Leadership Academy promote education and leadership development. Through convening and engagement efforts, the foundation fosters dialogue and collaboration, ensuring Latino voices are heard and valued in Silicon Valley.

The Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley (HFSV) is a beacon of empowerment for Silicon Valley Latinos. Founded in 1989, the organization has transformed countless lives and futures of Latinos in the region, shaping a brighter tomorrow through education, leadership, and community engagement. 

Educational Excellence: Bridging the Gap in STEM

At the core of our work lies a commitment to educational excellence. Recognizing the disparities in access to opportunities, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), we launched the Latinos in Technology Scholarship Initiative (LITSI) in 2016. 

Given that  less than 3% of Silicon Valley’s high-tech workforce is  Latino, LITSI is making a significant impact by bridging this gap. The initiative provides up to three years of financial support, professional development, mentorship, and internship opportunities to Latino college students pursuing STEM-related majors. To date, over 800 scholarships have been awarded, impacting the lives of 545 scholars. This represents an investment exceeding $5 million in educational excellence and fosters a more diverse, inclusive, and innovative Silicon Valley. 

Empowering the Next Generation of Latinos in STEM: 

•  First-Generation College Students: 81% of the scholars are the first in their families to attend college. This highlights the program’s crucial role in breaking barriers and serving as a pioneering support system for students who lack traditional familial academic or professional role models in their journey through higher education and into the STEM industry.

•  Supporting Latinas in STEM: The program significantly contributes to increasing the representation of Latinas in STEM, with 42% of the scholars being Latinas. This is particularly impactful given the historical underrepresentation of women, especially Latinas, in these fields. 

•  Community College Transfers: By supporting 31% of students who have transferred from community colleges, the program demonstrates a commitment to inclusivity and recognizes students diverse paths in their higher education journeys.

Toward a College-Oriented Future

With 39% of the K-12 student population identified as Latino, our Hispanic Foundation College Success Programs (HFCSP) are pivotal in empowering Latino families. We offer a comprehensive range of educational programs to students from middle school to college and to parents, ensuring that every step of their academic journey is supported.

The HFCSP plays a crucial role in bridging the gap between youth and access to high-quality STEM education and college readiness resources. Our Parent Education Academy (PEA) provides parents with essential resources and guidance, empowering them to engage with and support their childrens college aspirations. These academies are instrumental in increasing access to higher education and ultimately fostering a supportive environment at home conducive to academic success. 

Launched in 2016, HFCSP serves over 3,000 families annually across Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. It collaborates with 18 program partners in 57 school districts and boosts graduation rates and college readiness, ultimately increasing the number of Latinos employed in STEM industries.

One inspiring testament to the transformative power of education is Paula Perezs family. Paula’s family arrived in Mountain View over twenty years ago and faced numerous challenges navigating the U.S. education system. 

Through our Parent Education Academy (PEA), she gained the tools to support her children effectively throughout the college application and enrollment process.  

Paulas children are now thriving academically and Diogo is in high school, America is in community college, Ronaldo is a college senior, and Jesus is a successful Mechanical Engineer - and an alumni of our Latinos in Technology Scholarship Initiative! 

Leadership Development: Amplifying Voices

Representation matters, especially at the leadership level. Despite constituting a significant portion of Silicon Valleys population, Latinos remained underrepresented in nonprofit governance. 

The Latino Board Leadership Academy emerged as a catalyst for change, recruiting, training, and guiding Latino leaders to serve on local boards. It provides a platform for Latino leaders to develop their skills and facilitates opportunities for fellows to meet with local nonprofits seeking board members at the Nonprofit Board Match Night event.

With over 650 graduates, 70% of whom serve on nonprofit boards, the impact of this initiative is profound, ensuring that Latino perspectives are represented and valued in decision-making processes, leading to a more inclusive nonprofit sector.

Convening and Engaging: Building Bridges

The Foundation is deeply committed to convening and engaging the Latino community to raise awareness about issues impacting their quality of life. 

Our Silicon Valley Latino Report Card provides a comprehensive overview of the quality of life for Latinos in the region, covering key areas such as Education, Health, Financial Stability, Housing, and Environment. By comparing data between Latinos and non-Latinos in the region where possible, we create a baseline for understanding disparities and identifying areas for improvement.

Additionally, our Latinx Speaker Series serves as a platform for facilitating dialogue and collaboration. Through panel discussions, keynote speeches, and interactive sessions, we explore how different sectors can work together, ultimately empowering Latinos to achieve their full potential.

Lastly, the annual Hispanic Foundation Ball, a celebration of collective achievements and a vital source of funding for programs, has ensured that the Latino community’s voices are heard and amplified for over three decades.

By fostering educational excellence, cultivating leadership, and engaging the community, we continue to build bridges and amplify voices, ensuring that every Latino has the opportunity to thrive and contribute to Silicon Valley’s region.

About the Author: 

Gisela Angulo-Avellaneda is the Marketing and Communications Lead at the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley. Originally from Colombia, she champions empowerment, particularly among immigrant women, drawing from her upbringing steeped in advocacy and a commitment to community upliftment.


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