INSIDE CI

A California Champion for Hope

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That’s why she brought HOPE to the table.

Founded by a coalition of Latina businesswomen and community leaders, Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) is the heartbeat of the Latina community in California, as California’s largest Latina network organization. And for a critical reason: when HOPE got its start 25 years ago, Hispanics accounted for about 20 million of the overall U.S. population. As of 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 14.5 million Hispanics lived in California alone – the largest minority group in the state.

HOPE has been a guiding light through this explosive growth, providing leadership development, advocacy, and education to help ensure Latinas have a seat at the table and a strong voice in the political decisions that affect them and their families. Since 2007 – a year after Lorena joined Comcast – our company has been there for HOPE and the women it serves. To date, Comcast has invested more than $350,000 in cash and in-kind support, including $175,000 in grants from the Comcast Foundation.

Through the HOPE Youth Leadership Program (HYLP), the organization targets what it calls the "invisible middle" – low-income, high school-aged Latinas who perform too high for academic intervention, yet too low for honors classes or enrichment activities. HOPE’s goal is to propel these students from "average" and give them a voice that empowers them to realize their potential. The students participate in an intensive six-month leadership and advocacy training program, and have the opportunity to meet with state representatives and Latina mentors. They also use digital media to produce documentaries of their experiences, such as the video above. 

Lorena Hernandez

Lorena Hernandez embraces HOPE Youth Leadership Program participant Alma Orozco at the 18th annual Latina Action Day. Alma is now a student at Santa Clara University in San Jose.

"Thanks to Lorena’s leadership, our youth have been equipped with the technical tools and know-how to produce powerful videos that educate and inform a wider audience on the issues important to young Latinas," said Helen Iris Torres, HOPE’s executive director and CEO. "The Comcast Foundation has been a true partner in our efforts to provide important tools to young Latina leaders seeking to pursue higher education and to be of service in their community."

HOPE is proud of its achievements. While about half of the nation’s Hispanic high school graduates enroll in college, more than 87 percent of HOPE Youth Leadership Program alumnae have pursued their dreams of a higher education.

For Lorena, who has served as a supporter, advisor, board member, and mentor since 1998, HOPE represents the promise of the next generation of Latinas.

"I wish I would have had access to professional women that looked like me to help guide me as I navigated through my career," said Lorena. "HOPE creates the environment so that future Latina leaders can learn from other Latinas."

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