How You Can Get Involved This Hispanic Heritage Month!

Whether you recognize some of these non-profits or not, it’s time to support the organizations that are mobilizing movements around the country for the betterment of our community. What are you waiting for? There’s no better time to start than during Hispanic Heritage Month!

The Hispanic Federation
Headquarters: New York City

Established in 1990, the Hispanic Federation is an umbrella organization providing grants to Latino social service agencies as diverse as the Latino Commission on AIDS and the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater. Since its inception, it has awarded over $10 million and continues to provide organization support and community outreach to agencies in need. HF’s mission is clear and to the point: “To empower and advance the Hispanic community.”

National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
Headquarters: New York City and Washington, D.C.

Abortion access, immigrant rights, contraceptive equity and health care are just some of the hot-button issues the NLIRH supports through legislative action, public education and leadership building at the state and federal levels. Ranked one of the top non-profits by Philanthropedia, the organization recently celebrated 15 years of strengthening Latina voices in the reproductive rights and health agenda.

Mexican American Legal Defense and Fund
Headquarters: Los Angeles, California

MALDEF has been working to protect and promote our civil rights since 1968. Known as the “law firm of the Latino community,” the advocacy group isn’t afraid to litigate on our behalf at the Supreme Court level. Landmark legal victories have included the securing of free public education for all school children, regardless of their parent’s immigration status.

The Aspira Association
Headquarters: Washington, D.C.

“An Investment in Latino Youth” is the tagline of Aspira, an organization founded 50 years ago to nurture and support the educational and leadership capacity of our kids. The goal-oriented association provides leadership training, cultural enrichment and community action projects that motivate students to contribute positively to their communities.

League of United Latin American Citizens
Headquarters: Washington, D.C.

As the oldest Hispanic civil rights organization in the United States, the League of United Latin American Citizens has been fighting discrimination for a long time— since 1929 to be exact. Civic engagement, economic development, health, housing, immigration reform and bridging the digital divide are just some of the issues LULAC tackles through programming and advocacy at the local and national level.

National Latino Peace Officers Association
Headquarters: Santa Ana, California

With chapters all around the country, the NLPOA aims to eliminate prejudice and discrimination in the criminal justice system by recruiting Latinos into law enforcement and reducing tensions between Latino communities and the fuzz.

National Association for Hispanic Elderly
Headquarters: Pasadena, California

Better known to some of our grandparents as the Asociación Nacional Pro Personas Mayores, this organization helps Hispanic elderly and low income folks lead dignified lives by providing them with health, housing, employment and economic development programs. And seeing as Latinos continue to assume responsibility for their aging parents, it is a relief to know that there are culturally sensitive resources available to our relatives in a language they can understand.

NALEO Educational Fund
Headquarters: Los Angeles, California

Before we got Obama elected, Latinos were often described as the “sleeping giant” of American politics. That’s all changed thanks to the likes of the NALEO Educational Fund. Established in 1981 by The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, the organization empowers Latinos to participate in the American political process, from citizenship to public service. Learn more about their Redistricting Initiative

Hispanic Scholarship Fund
Headquarters: San Francisco, California

While college enrollment among Latinos has risen in the last year, our demographic still lags when it comes to enrollment numbers. Only 32 percent of Latinos, ages 18 to 24, were registered in 2010. That’s why organizations like the Hispanic Scholarship Fund are crucial. HSF works to remove the barriers keeping Latinos from earning a college degree by offering scholarship opportunities and support throughout the university years.

National Council of La Raza
Headquarters: Washington, D.C.

The NCLR does much more than just put together the ALMA Awards, which celebrates Latinos in the entertainment industry. The organization is the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy group in the country. It helps reduce poverty and discrimination by working directly with hundreds of community-based organizations, distributing funds directly to the people and providing policy analyses from Capitol Hill.

Smithsonian Latino Center
Headquarters: Washington, D.C.

While the Smithsonian Institution dates back to 1846, its Latino unit was only founded in 1997. Its mission is to educate the public about Latino history, society and culture through research, exhibitions, workshops and symposiums in museums and venues all around the country. The complex’s current exhibition, “American Sabor,” runs through October 9 and focuses on Latinos in U.S. popular music.

The National Hispanic Environmental Council
Headquarters: Alexandria, Virginia

Latinos continue to suffer from poor environmental living and working conditions, so it is paramount to support NHEC as it continues to educate and empower our community on environmental justice and sustainable development issues. The advocacy organization encourages Latinos to green our planet and pursue jobs in the natural resources field.

Pew Hispanic Center
Headquarters: Washington, D.C.

The Latino arm of the Pew Research Center was started a decade ago to improve understanding of our community and chronicle our growing impact on the nation. While the organization doesn’t take sides on policy issues, it illuminates our views by conducting regular studies about demography, economics, education, immigration, labor and politics. It also keeps us informed about what other Latinos around the country are thinking through public opinion surveys.