The Latino Empowerment Project (LEP) was established in 2008, following a 2007 study entitled, Latinos in Lancaster County: Voices, Perspectives, Myths and Realities. Fran Rodriguez sought the funding for the 18-month study written by Lillian Escobar-Haskins of Alegre Research and Demographics, and published by the Lancaster County Workforce Investment Board. The study’s mission was to bring forward an understanding of the Latino population and the issues that influence its progress. Not only did it provide objective data, but it also gave a voice to individuals whose lives were affected by the issues raised and revealed characteristics of Lancaster’s Latino population.
Less than a year after the study was released, the Alcoa Foundation identified funding for Latinos to participate in leadership training in an effort to enhance their role in the workplace as well as within the community and at home. Under the guidance and leadership of Rodriguez, key Latino leaders met to create the criteria. LEP began in the spring of 2009, wherein Latinos met for 7 consecutive weeks on Saturday mornings. The sessions covered key topics such as Understanding Cultural Patterns, Claiming your Latino Identity, Giving Voice to your Identity, Alliance Building, Identifying your Platform and Communicating Effectively. The project ends with participant presentations on their individual project.
The mission was to “improve the interpersonal skills of Latinos from all walks of life so that they can become leaders on the job, in their communities and with their families.” Fast forward to 2013, LEP’s mission is “While cultivating collaboration among Latinos, our vision is to inspire members to embrace their identity in developing habits of leadership so they can go forth in creating a platform for social change by engaging the broader community.”
“When I was asked to speak at the LEP event, I was honored to say the least. Through my research on LEP, I saw the lives that the program had changed and the inherent ‘need’ for the program for the Latino community of Lancaster,” says speaker Lance Rios. “When I spoke, I wanted to further drive through that the people of Lancaster and LEP had an opportunity to do something more than just go through the program. With the skill sets learned at LEP, they can then begin their conquest of spreading LEP’s power and message to the masses, nationally. I see LEP becoming a national program within the next few years to Latino communities all across the nation.”
Rios is the founder both DigiBunch, LLC, and Being Latino, as well as a company partner at Hispanicise.
LEP has more than 40 Latinos who made the commitment to engage in this unique 7-week program. Many have moved on to achieving great heights professionally.