How Actress and Model Jillian Mercado Is Breaking Boundaries For Disabled Latinas
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Jillian Mercado wearing a floral dress in front of an orange floral backdrop

By Shayne Rodriguez Thompson, Popsugar

Actress and model Jillian Mercado has spent her entire career breaking barriers for the disabled community.

From her role on Showtime’s “The L Word: Generation Q” to her unprecedented appearance on the runway during New York Fashion Week in 2020, Mercado has been making her presence known in the entertainment world for some time now, representing not just Latinas, but the disability community.

Mercado, who is of Dominican descent and was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy as a teenager, is a self-made success. She started out as fashion blogger and eventually landed a modeling contract, which has allowed her to become a source of inspiration for disabled Latinas and the disability community as a whole. The 34-year-old is proud of who she is and embraces the unique position she’s in as both a Latina celebrity and a disabled celebrity — and her achievements and commitment to representation are truly something to be celebrated. “It’s not about opening doors for me, it’s about removing them,” Mercado, who has partnerships with Yves Saint Laurent and Tommy Hilfiger, told “V Magazine.” We can’t wait to see what she has in store for the future.

Here are just some of the ways Jillian Mercado has paved the way for better representation for members of the disability community — and how she continues to break boundaries with her history-making career.

In 2014, Nicola Formichetti, the former artistic director of Diesel (who has worked with the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga), selected Mercado to appear in the line’s spring 2014 ad campaign, launching her modeling career.

Mercado told Racked that she’d originally written off the idea of modeling. “I suppressed the feeling because I didn’t think anyone would take me seriously,” she said. “I never thought I’d get picked, but my friends encouraged me to try out, because, hey, you never know — and two weeks later, they got back to me.”

Mercado still works with Formichetti and considers him a good friend. Prior to that first Diesel shoot, Mercado had her own fashion blog and worked as the editorial director of We The Urban magazine, but she was largely behind the scenes. However, she was able to book more modeling gigs almost immediately after the Diesel campaign came out.

Mercado signed with IMG Models not long after the Diesel campaign. She has since appeared in various magazines and been hired for several print campaigns for major retailers, including Target, Nordstrom, and Olay. She’s currently represented by CAA Worldwide, one of the world’s largest talent agencies.

In 2016, Beyoncé hired Jillian to model for her “Formation” merchandise print campaign, marking a special moment for disability representation. Jillian led the highly visible campaign, which appeared on Bey’s official website. “All this press on my announcement on Beys site is truly surreal & amazing,” Mercado tweeted at the time.

Click here to read the full article on Popsugar.

Renowned Latina chef helps spread word about free summer meals for kids, teens
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Renowned Latina chef Lorena Garcia wearing a red chefs uniform while smiling at the camera

By Edwin Flores, NBC News

Latina chef, author and TV personality Lorena Garcia is partnering with a national nonprofit group to let families know there are free meals available for children and teenagers as more people face hunger and food insecurity amid high food prices.

“We’re really trying to raise awareness, particularly this summer, about the meals that are available — parents and caregivers can find free summer meal sites right in their neighborhood,” the Venezuelan American chef said about No Kid Hungry, a campaign by the nonprofit group Share Our Strength based in Washington, D.C., which helps feed children and teenagers across the nation.

Even before the current issues of inflation and steeper food prices, the Covid-19 pandemic fallout resulted in a loss of jobs or reduced hours for millions in the country, leading to more families struggling to put food on the table, according to an analysis by Feeding America, which focuses on equitable access to food.

In 2020, food insecurity for Latinos increased by more than 19%, with Hispanics 2.5 times more likely to experience food insecurity than their white counterparts. Latino children were more than twice as likely to live in food-insecure households than white children, according to the nonprofit group.

Additionally, census data indicates that 1 in 6 Latinos live in poverty compared to 1 in 16 non-Latino whites.

Parents and caregivers can find a free summer meal site by texting “FOOD” or “COMIDA” to 304-304 or by visiting the group website’s free meal finder. The free meals provided are for youths 18 and younger.

Summer marks the hungriest time of the year for children since school is no longer in session and there is less access to daily, reliable meals. The No Kid Hungry summer meals programs reach 16% of children nationwide.

García said some of the summer meal programs are providing up to 750,000 meals a day to feed children and teenagers throughout the summer.

“The help is there, we just need to make sure that people know that this program is out there,” Garcia, who joined actor and TV cooking personality Ayesha Curry and rapper Big Freedia as No Kid Hungry partners, told NBC News.

As families grapple with the issue of meals in the summer months, millions of students could lose access to free and reduced-price meals after Congress failed to extend the federal Child Nutrition Waivers — introduced during the pandemic — which are set to expire June 30 after two years.

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

7 Latina-Owned Secondhand Shops That Promote Sustainability
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7 Latina-Owned Secondhand Shops That Promote Sustainability

By Tess Garcia, Refinery 29

Like many immigrants, Latines have a complicated history with secondhand shopping. Some of us grew up parsing through thrift stores out of necessity. Others were raised to avoid them at all costs, viewing shiny, new things as symbols of success. In recent years, an alternative school of thought has emerged from both ends of the spectrum: more and more, Latine shoppers of all class backgrounds are embracing pre-owned clothing for its prices as well as sustainability and style points.

“Growing up first-generation in a super white community, I couldn’t comfortably sit in one group or the other. I used clothes to express myself,” Mexican-American Isabel Robles tells Refinery29 Somos. Upon entering her teen years, this meant exploring the once-taboo worlds of thrift and consignment stores. “As I grew up, I grew more comfortable with my individuality, and shopping vintage and secondhand gave me the opportunity to pull pieces and style myself differently from everyone else.”

Others, like Moises Mendez II, shop secondhand as a way to honor their elders’ values. “My mom, who is from the Dominican Republic, is the biggest believer in ‘if you can get it for cheaper, why not?’ She also does her best to be environmentally conscious,” he explains. “Because I saw those two things growing up, they’ve been instilled in me, and I feel like I’m fulfilling them by shopping secondhand.”

No matter your motives for buying secondhand, it’s also a great way to support Latine entrepreneurs. Below, we’ve rounded up seven Latina-owned vintage and thrift stores that will change the way you shop. Keep reading to learn how each founder got their start, how they feel about sustainable shopping trends, and more.

The Plus Bus — Los Angeles, California

Co-Founded by Marcy Guevara-Prete

Image from The Plus Bus vintage store
Origin Story: “My business partner and I had so many clothes. Not only did we want those clothes to go to other happy homes, but we wanted a place to come and actually have a shopping experience in person. It’s so stressful and feels like such a disparity that the amount of options for our straight-size counterparts are just so abundant, yet there’s just nothing for plus-size shoppers. But we have money to spend, places to go, people to see.”
On Sustainability & Personal Growth: “When we started the store, sustainability was not on my radar. But it has become so important to me and such a central part of our business. Not only do we know fashion is a huge polluter of the planet, but I care about my wallet, I care about investing in brands that do care and are trying to be ethical. I really try to shop out of The Plus Bus, and I’ve been able to do that successfully for almost three years now.”

Current Boutique — Washington, DC

Founded by Carmen Lopez

Image from Current Boutique vintage store
Origin Story: “Growing up, my mother and I would visit la segunda for treasures every weekend. I saw an opening in the market to make consignment shopping cool, modern, and on-trend. At 28 years old, I saved enough money to launch my business, Current Boutique. My parents, especially my father, didn’t support my decision. No one in our family worked for themselves, definitely not a woman. I started with a lease on a small brick-and-mortar storefront and grew it to three. Now, it’s evolved into a national e-commerce consignment website.”
On Attention to Detail: “I was brought up to know that everything has value and I should cherish my belongings to make them last. We tell our customers to bring us natural fabric items made from cashmere, silk, linen, and cotton. Not only do they hold their value, but their new owners will get repeat uses, which is the key to circular fashion.”

Poorly Curated — New York City

Founded by Jamie Espino

Image from Poorly Curated Vintage Store.
Origin Story: “As a kid, my Tata would take me thrifting. We’d go thrifting and we’d go to lunch. After college, I started applying to jobs at bigger fashion companies, but then I realized none of these places shared my beliefs. The more I thought about how I’d be spending my time, the more I was like, ‘I should just try to do vintage full time.’ Now, it’s about to be six years. I love what I’m doing with Poorly Curated.”
On the Cost of Fast Fashion: “At the end of the day, vintage is a very sustainable way of shopping, especially compared to disposable fashion, which is mostly made by people of color who aren’t getting paid fair wages. Why would I want to contribute to people who look like me not getting paid fairly? Also, when it comes to climate change, it’s always poor communities of color that tend to be affected. Why would I do that to myself, essentially?”

Fresa Thrift — Denton, Texas

Founded by Anisa Gutierrez

Image from Fresa Thrift Vintage Store
Origin Story: “Before the Covid-19 pandemic, I opened my store, Fresa Thrift, but during the lockdown, I decided to quit my full-time job and just jump into the store full time. It was a combination of what I loved and needing to love myself.”
On Owning a Business: “I’ve always had a boss, so it’s hard for me to see myself as my own boss. As a Latina in the workplace, I was the one who said, ‘I’m going to put my head down and work.’ I wasn’t around a lot of people who looked like me, and I wasn’t going to give them a reason to look down on me. For my mother and my grandmother, starting a business was never an option or a thought. For me to do it and have them say, ‘You make it look so easy,’ it’s nice to hear. It makes me wonder: What would their small businesses have been?

Debutante Vintage Clothing — Pomona, California

Founded by Sandra Mendoza

Image from Debutante Vintage Clothing
Origin Story: “I had amassed so much vintage for myself to wear that I had to start selling some of it. In 1998, I started flipping things on eBay and realized, ‘Wow, I can make some money.’ Eventually, it grew into my business, Debutante Vintage Clothing.”
On Generational Shifts: “When I first started my business, my parents were like, ‘Eso trapos viejos, ¿vas a vender?’ It’s only been this year — and I’ve been in business since 2005 — when I showed them my shop, and they were like, ‘Oh, it’s nice here. It’s organized.’ As immigrants, they wanted everything brand new and shiny. I’m so proud that younger people are embracing secondhand and even mending and repurposing. As a business owner, inventory has become a lot harder to source [laughs]. But as a social movement, I’m so happy.”

Click here to read the full article on Refinery 29.

At 17, she was her family’s breadwinner on a McDonald’s salary. Now she’s gone into space
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At 17, she was her family's breadwinner on a McDonald's salary. Now she's gone into space

By Jackie Wattles, CNN

A rocket built by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin carried its fifth group of passengers to the edge of space, including the first-ever Mexican-born woman to make such a journey.

The 60-foot-tall suborbital rocket took off from Blue Origin’s facilities in West Texas at 9:26am ET, vaulting a group of six people to more than 62 miles above the Earth’s surface — which is widely deemed to make the boundary of outer space — and giving them a few minutes of weightlessness before parachuting to landing.

Most of the passengers paid an undisclosed sum for their seats. But Katya Echazarreta, an engineer and science communicator from Guadalajara, Mexico, was selected by a nonprofit called Space for Humanity to join this mission from a pool of thousands of applicants. The organization’s goal is to send “exceptional leaders” to space and allow them to experience the overview effect, a phenomenon frequently reported by astronauts who say that viewing the Earth from space give them a profound shift in perspective.

Echazarreta told CNN Business that she experienced that overview effect “in my own way.”

“Looking down and seeing how everyone is down there, all of our past, all of our mistakes, all of our obstacles, everything — everything is there,” she said. “And the only thing I could think of when I came back down was that I need people to see this. I need Latinas to see this. And I think that it just completely reinforced my mission to continue getting primarily women and people of color up to space and doing whatever it is they want to do.”

Echazarreta is the first Mexican-born woman to travel to space and the second Mexican after Rodolfo Neri Vela, a scientist who joined one of NASA’s Space Shuttle missions in 1985.

She moved to the United States with her family at the age of seven, and she recalls being overwhelmed in a new place where she didn’t speak the language, and a teacher warned her she might have to be held back.
“It just really fueled me and I think ever since then, ever since the third grade, I kind of just went off and have not stopped,” Echazarreta recalled in an Instagram interview.

When she was 17 and 18, Echazarreta said she was also the main breadwinner for her family on a McDonald’s salary.

“I had sometimes up to four [jobs] at the same time, just to try to get through college because it was really important for me,” she said.
These days, Echazarreta is working on her master’s degree in engineering at Johns Hopkins University. She previously worked at NASA’s famed Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. She also boasts a following of more than 330,000 users on TikTok, hosts a science-focused YouTube series and is a presenter on the weekend CBS show “Mission Unstoppable.”

Space for Humanity — which was founded in 2017 by Dylan Taylor, a space investor who recently joined a Blue Origin flight himself — chose her for her impressive contributions. “We were looking for some like people who were leaders in their communities, who have a sphere of influence; people who are doing really great work in the world already, and people who are passionate about whatever that is,” Rachel Lyons, the nonprofit’s executive director, told CNN Business.

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

Juan Toscano-Anderson Becomes First Player of Mexican Descent to Win NBA Title
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Juan Toscano-Anderson Becomes First Player of Mexican Descent to Win NBA Title

By Kiko Martinez, Remezcla

Golden State Warriors forward Juan Toscano-Anderson has become the first player of Mexican descent to win an NBA championship.

The 27-year-old Oakland native won the title with his hometown team Thursday night (June 16). The Warriors beat the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the NBA Finals 103-90 to win the series 4-2.

During the trophy presentation ceremony, Juan Toscano-Anderson held the Mexican flag proudly after the coveted Larry O’Brien championship trophy was handed to the team’s owners. This year’s championship marks the fourth one in eight years that the Warriors have won. In those eight years, the Warriors have been to the NBA Finals six times.

Later, Toscano-Anderson can be seen chanting “MVP” from the stage when his teammate Stephen Curry was named Most Valuable Player of the NBA Finals for the first time in his career.

“Everybody on this stage has a part in this – from the front office, coaches, players,” Curry said.

Toscano-Anderson’s road to an NBA Championship was a challenging one. He played four years for Marquette University before going undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft. He then started playing professional basketball in Mexico’s Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional. He also played in the Liga Profesional de Baloncesto in Venezuela and for the Santa Cruz Warriors in the NBA’s G League.

In February 2020, Toscano-Anderson was signed by the Warriors for three years. His deal was converted to a full-time contract in May 2021. Earlier this year, he participated in the 2022 NBA Slam Dunk Contest at the All-Star Game wearing a pair of customized Nike tennis shoes designed to look like the Mexican flag.

Click here to read the full article on Remezcla.

Former TV News Producer Showcases Latin Culture With New Series ‘Gordita Chronicles’
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Former TV News Producer Showcases Latin Culture With New Series ‘ Gordita Chronicles '

By Elizabeth Chavolla, NBC Los Angeles

Working in the newsroom helped her become a better series writer, said Claudia Forestieri, creator of the new comedy “Gordita Chronicles.”

“By day I was a full time journalist and by night an aspiring series writer,” Forestieri told Telemundo 52, as she recalled the years she worked as a reporter, an assignment editor, and a news produce for various Telemundo stations.

“Telemundo helped me become a TV writer. When we do news, you have to pitch stories every day, and if your story didn’t get picked, you can’t sit and cry about it, you have to keep pitching ideas, know how to meet a deadline, and able to summarize a story quickly, so news prepared me well to be a TV series writer,” said Forestieri.

I wanted to showcase the life of the immigrant that is never shown, the fun side, the happy side, the positive side, and show the wonderful things about the Latin culture and how our culture and the American culture can come together and create a beautiful community.

And even though she loved being a journalist, her heart’s desire was becoming a writer for a television series, and nine years later, after years of sacrifice, tears, sleepless nights, and being almost 3,000 miles away from her family, the Dominican immigrant created a series that has received support from HBO Max and the actresses and executive producers, Eva Longoria and Zoe Saldaña.

IT WASN’T EASY
“I started from scratch. I didn’t have any contacts; I didn’t know anyone in this industry. I sacrificed a lot, I missed many weddings, vacations, but in the end my family understood.

Forestieri, who left Miami at age 35, said arriving to the West Coast with a mission forced her to prepare for the challenge she was about to face. “I had to fall in love with the journey. I had to learn to be a better writer, take classes.”

THE SERIES “GORDITA CHRONICLES”
After having been accepted into several writing programs, in 2018 Forestieri did her first screenwriting job, and in 2019 she collaborated on the Netflix series Selena.

Then in 2021, Right during the pandemic, HBO Max announced they had chosen the series “Gordita Chronicles”, and that Zoe Saldaña and Eva Longoria would become the executive producers of this project.

Inspired by the life of Forestieri, the protagonist of “Gordita Chronicles”, Carlota, “Cucú” Castilli (Olivia Goncalvez), is a 12-year-old girl who, along with her parents and older sister, left the Dominican Republic to pursue the American Dream in 1985 after her father, an airline marketing executive, got transferred to Miami.

The series shows how young Cucú faces the challenges of being an immigrant in a new world, showing her courage, humor, mischief, as well as the importance of her culture and family.

“I wanted to write a script that was personal. I was an immigrant girl, I wanted a better life, I had to learn a new language, a new lifestyle in a new country, and make new friends,” said Forestieri.

“I wanted to reflect the life of the immigrant that is never shown, the fun side, the happy side, the positive side, and show the wonderful things about the Latin culture and how our culture and the American culture can come together and create a beautiful community,” she added.

The writer added that most immigrants who arrive to a new country “want a better life, they want the country to be better” and that is precisely what the series will show.

Click here to read the full article on NBC Los Angeles.

FAA Launches ‘Be ATC’ Campaign to Recruit Next Diverse Generation of Air Traffic Controllers
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Air Traffic Controller

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is launching “Be ATC,” a recruiting campaign to hire the next generation of air traffic controllers. The application window will be open nationwide from June 24-27 for all eligible U.S. citizens.

Air traffic controllers are part of the FAA’s fast-paced, active team of 14,000 professionals in radar facilities and in air traffic control towers who keep the skies safe across the nation. Controllers have a tremendous responsibility, handling an average of 45,000 flights a day and more than 5,000 aircraft traversing the skies at once during peak times.

Anyone interested in becoming an air traffic controller can view more about eligibility requirements and application instructions at faa.gov/be-atc. Applicants can begin building a profile and learn how to apply.

Building on last year’s successful campaign to receive more applications from women and other underrepresented groups, the FAA will again work with diverse organizations, host Instagram Live conversations, and work with social media influencers and others. The FAA has created a digital toolkit to get the word out.

“We know that different perspectives add value to any organization, so it is important that we attract people with a wide range of backgrounds to help enhance our safety mission,” said Virginia Boyle, Vice President for System Operations Services in the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization.

“It’s a challenging job, but it’s also rewarding. At the end of the day when you get home and look up at the sky, you know that what you’ve done makes a difference,” said Jeffrey Vincent, Vice President for Air Traffic Services in the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization.

Applicants must be U.S. citizens, speak English clearly and be no older than 30 (with limited exceptions). They must have either three years of general work experience or four years of education leading to a bachelor’s degree, or a combination of both. Applicants must also pass the Air Traffic Skills Assessment (ATSA). Individuals who are selected are also required to pass all pre-employment requirements, including a medical examination, security investigation, and drug test.

Selected candidates will train at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City, Okla. After successful completion of training, they will be placed in a radar facility or air traffic tower. Staffing needs will determine facility assignment, and applicants must be willing to work anywhere in the United States.

“As aerospace technology continues to grow, we need people to join the FAA to ensure our airspace continues to be the safest in the world,” said FAA Deputy Administrator A. Bradley Mims. “We are looking for a diverse pool of candidates who are ready to rise to the challenge and become air traffic controllers.”

The FAA’s controller workforce reached about 14,000 in fiscal year 2021. The FAA hired 509 new controllers in fiscal year 2021, and the FAA plans to hire more than 4,800 controllers over the next five years.

Jennifer Lopez Wants to Give Latina Entrepreneurs the Capital Boost They Need
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Jennifer Lopez Wants to Give Latina Entrepreneurs the Capital Boost They Need

By  Yamily Habib, Be Latina

We have often talked about the economic strength of the Latino community — especially Latinas. We are not only one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups but also the ones who have jump-started the nation’s economy before and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, one of the biggest obstacles for entrepreneurs and business owners is access to resources and start-up capital.

This reality is so evident that big names like Jennifer Lopez have stepped up to the plate to address it.

The singer announced that she has joined forces with microfinance organization Grameen America to give Latina entrepreneurs the capital boost they need, adding up to $14 billion in capital.

As reported by Forbes, Jennifer Lopez announced Thursday that, as a national ambassador for Grameen, she will help mentor the organization’s network of more than 150,000 women-led small businesses in Latino communities across the country.

Together with Grameen, a nonprofit that provides access to capital, credit building, and financial education, Lopez will reinvigorate her philanthropic project, Limitless Labs, to provide 600,000 Latina entrepreneurs with $14 billion in loan capital and 6 million hours of financial education by 2030.

By joining Grameen’s microloan program, Jennifer Lopez will “motivate, promote, and inspire” Latina business owners and educate them on credit and asset-building to help them “understand the pathway to financial independence and literacy,” according to Grameen.

The partnership will build “pathways to employment and leadership opportunities” to harness the “strength” of the Latinx community, Lopez said in a statement.

“Being Latino in this country has always been a matter of pride for me. I am humbled and beyond grateful to partner with Grameen America. We’re building pathways to employment and leadership opportunities. There’s so much strength in this community, and we’re harnessing that. This partnership will create equality, inclusivity, and opportunity for Latina women in business,” she added.

She also told Inc. that her mother did not go to college because she did not have that access, but through this new partnership, Jennifer Lopez hopes to create a more equitable and inclusive landscape.

Click here to read the full article on Be Latina.

Daniel Suárez grabs historic NASCAR Cup Series win at Sonoma
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Daniel Suarez celebrates his victory in a NASCAR Cup Series auto race, Sunday, June 12, 2022, at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. (P Photo/D. Ross Cameron)

By Greg Beacham, ABC 7

Daniel Suárez became the first Mexican-born driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race Sunday, holding off Chris Buescher for a historic victory at Sonoma Raceway.

Suárez, a 30-year-old native of Monterrey, finally won in the 195th career start of a Cup Series career that began in 2017. He also drove his Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet to the third Cup Series victory of the season for this rising 2-year-old team co-owned by former driver Justin Marks and music star Pitbull.

Suárez got past Buescher and took charge early in the final stage on this hilly road course in Northern California wine country, and he persevered through a pit stop and a caution to emerge in front with 23 laps to go. Buescher pushed him aggressively, but Suárez made no significant mistakes while rolling to victory.

“It’s crazy,” Suárez said. “I have so many thoughts in my head right now. It’s been a rough journey in the Cup Series, and these guys believed in me. I have a lot of people to thank in Mexico. My family, they never gave up on me. A lot of people did, but they didn’t. I’m just happy we were able to make it work.”

Suárez’s team partied wildly when it was over, even pulling out a celebratory piñata shaped like a taco. The piñata was requested by Suárez for whenever he got his first win and clinched a spot in the playoffs – and he celebrated by punching a hole through it with his fist.

“They believed in me since Day One,” Suárez said of his team. “(We’ve got) all the people, all the resources to make it happen.”

Suárez then addressed his fans briefly in Spanish, saying: “This is the first one of many.”

Buescher’s second-place finish was also a season best in his RFK Racing Ford. He fell just short of his second career victory.

“Hurts to be that close, but congratulations to Suárez,” Buescher said. “We were trying, trying to get him. Ran out of steam there.”

Suárez, who won the Xfinity Series championship in 2016, is the fifth foreign-born driver to win a Cup Series race. He joins Colombia’s Juan Pablo Montoya, Australia’s Marcos Ambrose, Canada’s Earl Ross and Italian-born American Mario Andretti.

The success of Suárez and Trackhouse Racing could be a welcome boost to a sport eager to expand its cultural footprint. After moving to the U.S. 11 years ago with a desire to race on bigger stages, Suárez is a major success story for NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, which aims to bring new perspectives and backgrounds to a largely monocultural organization for much of its history.

Click here to read the full article on ABC 7.

How Simply Antojitos is selling authentic Puerto Rican treats ahead of the Summer season
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Adamary Sosa decides to make and sell limbers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and later founded Simply Antojitos. Photo Courtesy of Adamary Sosa.

By Tiffany Rivera, Al Dia

Adamary Sosa has vivid memories of her mother making batches of homemade limbers when she was just a kid when her family lived in Reading, Pennsylvania.

“When I was younger she had a limber business and she would be up all night making limbers and I would be the nosey kid taste testing the limbers,” Sosa said in an interview with AL DIA News.

Her mother would sell them to neighbors from her home.

These refreshing homemade individually-made ice cream treats that are frozen in plastic cups come from Puerto Rico, and are the quintessential remedy to beat the heat in the summertime.

However, when her family moved to Philadelphia, her mother grew hesitant with selling the limbers out of her home.

This is why Sosa decided to make limbers in the summer, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She got the idea when she began craving the sweet treat, but couldn’t find any high quality ones like her mother used to make.

“I would get limbers, they were not of good quality, they were watery,” she said.

Sosa wanted to add a gourmet twist to it and combine the traditional cooking method with different and popular flavors in the states, like caramel, nutella, and oreo flavors.

She began experimenting with different flavors and offered some limbers to her co-workers at the Norris Square Community Alliance, where Sosa works.

Her co-workers loved them.

“I tried it, I launched a page and it went from there,” she said.

With the success of her creations from her co-workers and friends on social media, Sosa began selling her frozen treats through Instagram.

She named her new found business, Simply Antojitos.

“It started with three simple flavors and I started experimenting with other flavors and getting their opinions,” said Sosa.

Now the Latina entrepreneur has a large social media following and a huge selection of limbers.

“Most of my clientele will ask for them, I post my inventory daily with what I have,” she said.

She also delivers treats to her clients when they are not able to meet her at her meeting spot.

“I live in Juniata and so there is a spot close to my house, near Aldi grocery store, so anyone who wants to meet me to pick up the limbers can meet me there, I usually communicate with them through Instagram,” Sosa said.

Her two new summer flavors include dulce de leche and strawberry lemonade. However, she does have 30 other flavors of limbers to choose from.

“The dulce de leche came out of nowhere, I was having a conversation, customers like the caramel flavors from Starbucks and I wanted to make something with caramel and that’s how dulce de leche came out,” she said.

Click here to read the full article on Al Dia.

Young L.A. Latina wins prestigious environmental prize
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Nalleli Cobo holds the ouroboros environmental prize

By Edwin Flores, NBC News

At age 9, Nalleli Cobo was experiencing asthma, body spasms, heart palpitations and nosebleeds so severe she needed to sleep in a chair to prevent herself from choking on her own blood.

Across the street from her family’s apartment in University Park in South Central Los Angeles was an oil extraction site owned by Allenco Energy that was spewing fumes into the air and the community around her.

After speaking with neighbors facing similar symptoms, she and her family began to mobilize with their community, suspecting that was making them sick. They created the People Not Pozos (People Not Oil Wells) campaign. At 9 years old, Cobo was designated the campaign’s spokesperson, marking the start of her activism and organizing career.

In March 2020, Cobo, the co-founder of the South Central Youth Leadership Coalition, helped lead the group to permanently shut down the Allenco Energy oil drilling site that she and others in the community said caused serious health issues for them. She also helped convince the Los Angeles City Council and Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to unanimously vote to ban new oil exploration and phase out existing sites in Los Angeles.

After pressure from the community and scrutiny from elected officials, Allenco Energy agreed to suspend operations in 2013. The site was permanently shut down in 2020, and the company was charged in connection with state and local environmental health and safety regulations. There are ongoing issues around cleaning and plugging up the oil wells.

Cobo co-founded the South Central Youth Leadership Coalition in 2015 to bolster efforts against oil sites and work toward phasing them out across the city.

That year, the youth group sued the city of Los Angeles, alleging violations of the California Environmental Quality Act and environmental racism. The suit was settled after the city implemented new drilling application requirements.

Cobo, now 21, was recognized Wednesday for the environmental justice work that has spanned more than half her life. She received the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, which is awarded annually to individuals from six regions: Europe, Asia, Africa, Islands and Island Nations, North America, and South and Central America.

“I did not want to answer the phone because it was an unknown number,” Cobo, who was getting bubble tea when she received the call about the prize, told NBC News in a Zoom interview Wednesday. “I didn’t even know I was nominated. I started crying.”

During the 1920s, Los Angeles was one of the world’s largest urban oil-exporting regions. More than 20,000 active, idle, or abandoned oil wells still reside in the county, and about one-third of residents live less than a mile from an active oil site.

Studies have shown that living near oil and gas wells increases exposure to air pollution, with nearby communities facing environmental and health risks including preterm birth, asthma and heart disease.

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  3. UNIDOS US Annual Conference & Latinx Inclusion Summit
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