After a two-year pandemic delay and months of planning, the Weather Channel en Español launches today at 7 am ET. The first 24/7 U.S. Spanish-language free streaming weather news network makes its debut on the 40th anniversary of the launch of The Weather Channel television network, both part of Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group broadcast portfolio.
Featuring regional, local newscasts and content focused on the U.S., the Caribbean and Latin America, the Weather Channel en Español will be available across over-the-top streaming platforms, mobile devices and via The Weather Channel app.
“The Hispanic marketplace is indexing extremely well with streaming services and is severely underserved,” says Byron Allen, founder, chairman and CEO of Allen Media Group. “Our launch of The Weather Channel en Español is historic, and is a recognition of the continued and significant growth of the U.S. Hispanic population and the constant need to keep the entire public informed and safe as multibillion dollar weather disasters are on the rise – especially in communities where Spanish is spoken as both the primary and secondary language in millions of households throughout America.”
The Weather Channel en Español has its own production team and on-air talent, but will also tap the resources of TWC, including its immersive mixed reality (IMR) technology. It will also collaborate with other Allen Media Group platforms such as Pattrn, TWC’s climate, environment and sustainability network.
It may come as a surprise that radio personality Geena the Latina — formally Geena Aguilar — never pictured herself on the air. If it wasn’t for a morning show audition 15 years ago that brought her to the city she considered a second home, San Diego might have missed out on one of the market’s more popular radio hosts.
While her path began as an intern at a Los Angeles radio station in college, she was working as a sales associate for a television station after college, when her two brothers were shot and killed within five months of each other.
“After that, I stopped working altogether for a year because I was so depressed. My old boss from the radio station called me after that year and told me to come back to the station. He said I could work as little or as much as I wanted. He just wanted to get me out of the house,” she says. “I am forever thankful to him for that.”
Aguilar threw herself into her work, befriending colleagues, working late hours and pitching in to help out and learn any aspect of the job that needed an extra pair of hands. Although she was initially resistant to the spotlight that came with the job, it’s helped her realize that her voice matters, and she’s used it to help others.
One of those ways is through her Girls Empowerment Conference with the Positive Movement Foundation. The foundation is a San Diego nonprofit that works with schools and other organizations to provide educational tools, empowerment events, and other resources to vulnerable children. They’re hosting their “Cocktails for a Cause” fundraiser 6 to 10 p.m. today at 1899 McKee St., San Diego. The Girls Empowerment Conference is one of the beneficiaries of the event.
Aguilar is an on-air personality at Channel 933, co-host of “The Geena the Latina and Frankie V Morning Show,” and lives in the East Village section of downtown San Diego. She took some time to talk about her radio career, the Girls Empowerment Conference, and finding her voice.
Q: Most of us who listen to the radio know you as Geena the Latina on Channel 93.3. What led you to choose a career in radio?
A: When I started out as an intern at 102.7 KIIS FM in Los Angeles during college, I was eventually hired in the promotions department, and continued working there throughout college. I never wanted to be on the air; I worked there because it was fun and all of my friends worked there. I always wanted to work in the entertainment industry, but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. I thought of myself as more of a behind-the-scenes person.
[After the deaths of her brothers] I started working at the radio station again and completely threw myself into everything I could do there, probably just to keep myself busy. I’d stay at the station all day long, talking to people, helping whoever needed help, or sitting in on show meetings. I became the street reporter for the station and worked red carpet events, which eventually led to morning shows asking me to audition. I didn’t want to audition because I still didn’t think that being on the air could be a career, but one of those auditions was for a morning show in San Diego and I just loved San Diego. I grew up visiting the city, all of my friends had attended college here, and I’d already felt like San Diego was a second home. I got the job 15 years ago and I’ve been here ever since!
After being on Channel 933 for a year, I wanted to quit because I couldn’t handle all of the negative comments, messages, and emails. I hated the spotlight (and still don’t love it), but one morning, I shared the story about what happened to my brothers, and the response was overwhelmingly supportive. People were saying how much my story touched them, helped them, or how they related to me because of it. I finally realized that maybe I was supposed to be on the radio. If people listened to me when I had something serious to say, then I could put up with all of that other stuff. I realized that it was important to have a voice about things that mattered, and there was no bigger platform than on one of the biggest radio stations in San Diego, talking to a million people a week.
Q: Can you tell us about how you came to be known on air as “Geena the Latina,” and what it means to you to represent this part of your identity and culture?
A: When I first started, they were trying to think of a catchy name for me. At the time, there weren’t many Latinos on the radio, if any. They wanted a name that captured who I was, but also communicated that I was Latin. One day, one of the on-air DJs started calling me “Geena the Latina” and it stuck. I like the name, I think it defines who I am, and I am good with that. I am American first, of Latin descent, and my family is Mexican, but I was raised here in the U.S. We speak both English and Spanish, we grew up eating Mexican food and going to low-rider car shows, and my Spanish could be a lot better, but that’s also a product of us growing up with everything American. We grew up heavily immersed in the Mexican American culture, but also grew up very American. We’re an interesting mix of Latino that I feel represents a lot of people who were raised the same way, here in the U.S. We are proud of our Latin/Mexican roots and heritage, but are also proud to be American. I’m part of a generation that grew up with both cultures that shaped us to become who we are, and I’m proud of that.
What I love about downtown San Diego …
I love that it’s right in the middle of downtown San Diego and Little Italy. It’s a five-minute ride either way. Depending on what I feel like doing, everything is pretty accessible. I also love that I’m so close to North Park, as I frequent that neighborhood almost daily. I love having visitors and them being able to be so close to so much to do! Downtown, the harbor, Little Italy, Barrio Logan—I’m close to everything.
Q: Tell us about your Girls Empowerment Conference.
A: I’d been a keynote speaker at conferences for girls at both Mount Miguel High School and at the University of San Diego. After speaking at both conferences, I thought about combining them in order to maximize resources and to provide a massive conference for teen girls from all over San Diego. I spoke to the organizers of both conferences, and we started our Girls Empowerment Conference in 2017. The girls are provided with food throughout the day, along with empowering activities, speakers, performances, and interactive workshops.
During the smaller breakout sessions with a moderator, girls are able to comfortably talk about the issues affecting their lives, like body image, confidence, or life at home. Empowerment groups from different high schools perform spoken word and put together empowering videos that are played during the day. The girls from these high school empowerment groups are highly involved with everything from the topics of the conference to the themes, speakers, and more. We really try to hear them out and listen to what they say they want and need, as we plan the conference. It’s a fully interactive, immersive day, specifically geared to teen girls from ninth through 12th grades, and the costs of admission and transportation are covered at no cost to the girls.
Q: Why was this conference something you wanted to create?
A: We wanted to provide resources and outlets for teen girls who probably wouldn’t be able to have access to them otherwise. We wanted to uplift girls and give them examples of what they can become if they work hard and stay motivated. We wanted to provide a safe place for them to learn, grow, and have fun, and we ultimately wanted to inspire these girls to be the best that they can be. We wanted to allow them to see examples of others who were in their position once, and to see how far those women have come.
Q: What does the idea of “empowerment” mean to you, personally?
A: Empowerment is a state of being. It’s a state of feeling completely comfortable with who you are and what you believe in; of feeling confident that you can do whatever it is you want to do; of being confident in who you are and what you bring to the table; of knowing that your contribution to this world is important; and it’s a state of knowing that anything is achievable when you put your mind to it and dedicate yourself to making it happen. Empowerment gives you the feeling that nothing is unattainable.
Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
A: Don’t take things personally. So many times, we won’t pursue our goals or dreams because someone told us we couldn’t, or because we got turned down or rejected. I think never taking things personally — whether it be a rejection or something said about us — allows us to not be hindered by things we can’t control. All you can do is be you, be a good person, work hard, and everything will happen as it’s supposed to happen.
Click here to read the full article on the San Diego Tribune.
CHICAGO, Ill. — A Latina family-owned business, MCM Protein Bar, will be opening its doors to the public this weekend. It offers healthier food options in the city’s Pilsen neighborhood on the West Side, all with a fun Mexican twist!
Owners Monica Aranda, Arasele Calvo, and Marlen Villordo said it took them a year to open their dream business. They all have a background in nutrition.
“I feel like were going to be able to provide something different in this community,” said owner Monica Aranda.
MCM Protein Bar offers healthy and tasty food and drinks, such as their take on the michelada. Instead of alcohol, the michelada is made up of energizing vitamins and seltzer water.
The owners said all their meals are high in protein, offering over five different flavors of protein powder.
Aranda said once they start making profits, they’d like to give back to the community by creating a scholarship program for DACA students.
MCM Protein Bar will open its doors this weekend July 17!
For many of us, connections to small businesses are deeply personal—your local barber shop or family dentist, the spot for the best pizza in town, the small contractor you call to fix your leak.
Businesses like these make up the fabric of our communities—but many don’t realize what a big role they play, collectively, in the U.S. economy.
However, they face unique challenges even in the strongest of times and now, amidst the covid-19 pandemic, many small businesses are struggling to survive.
The situation at hand
JPMorgan Chase Institute research found that prior to the covid-19 pandemic, typical small businesses had only enough cash on hand to keep the lights on for two to three weeks. This was even more pronounced for small businesses in majority-Black and Latinx communities, where the typical business had only one to two weeks of reserves.
Interestingly, researchers found that in the Fall of 2020, many small businesses actually had cash reserves at higher levels than normal. This seems like great news—but when you look under the hood, the situation is more precarious. 
There are two factors to explain the elevated reserves: 1) an injection of cash from federal and local policy shored up many of the businesses likely to face a shortfall, and 2) a decision many businesses made to delay or dial back payments on things like upkeep of key assets, limiting wages or employee benefits, or other choices that may not be financially healthy in the months or years ahead.
So, while cash balances are larger than usual, they may not be enough for small businesses to continue to survive in these tumultuous times. Expenses have already begun to outpace revenue. This trend could have a disproportionate impact on Black- and Latinx-owned companies, that tend to experience lower revenues and profit margins compared to white-owned counterparts.
Help in many forms
Many small businesses face similar challenges: lack of access to capital and resources to grow. However, businesses owned by people of color and other underserved groups face these challenges more acutely. For example, according to the JPMorgan Chase Institute, Black, Latinx and women-owned small businesses are underrepresented among firms with substantial external financing. While there are no simple solutions, business, government and nonprofit leaders should work together to support, sustain and grow these critical enterprises.
For example, December’s $900 billion stimulus package included a second infusion of PPP funds, with $12 billion set aside for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs).
While the terms might be unfamiliar, you likely already know your local CDFI or MDI. Some local banks or credit unions might fall into this category.
An MDI is a bank whose ownership or leadership is made up of a majority of people of color. CDFIs are community lenders, which primarily finance in low- and moderate-income communities and focus on small businesses, as well as affordable housing and nonprofits. Both MDIs and CDFIs earn these designations from the federal government, due to the vital financial services they provide in communities that are often underserved. CDFIs in particular are designed to meet these needs by offering capital and guidance to help ensure the success of vulnerable businesses. We think that’s a winning combination.
But MDIs and CDFIs need banks to provide additional capital to fund this critical work in communities. Here’s where JPMorgan Chase comes in.
Part of the solution
We believe that business has a role to play in addressing societal issues, along with business and community leaders. JPMorgan Chase is committed to building a more inclusive economy and our support for small business, especially in Black and Latinx communities, is a critical element of this work.
That’s why, in February, the firm announced new initiatives focused on providing MDIs and diverse-led CDFIs with additional access to capital, connections to institutional investors, specialty support for Black-led commercial projects, and mentorship and training opportunities. Initial investments and commitments to minority-owned and Black-led MDIs included Liberty Bank and Trust, M&F Bank, Carver Federal Savings Bank and Broadway Federal Bank. The firm also committed $42.5 million to expand the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund to reach new U.S. cities in 2021, providing loans and technical assistance to minority-owned small businesses in collaboration with LISC and a network of CDFIs. Since its inception in Detroit in 2015, the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund has deployed more than $32 million to Black, Latinx and other underserved entrepreneurs, including Jimmie Williams from Chicago, who received a small business loan to scale his landscaping company. In addition, we continue our direct support for small business, including through PPP.
This work is part of the $30 billion commitment over five years we announced in October 2020 to provide economic opportunity to underserved communities to help close the racial wealth divide. The firm is continuing to put this commitment into practice by combining our business, policy, data and philanthropic expertise.
We are committing $350 million over five years to help grow Black, Latinx, woman-owned and other underserved small businesses. This includes:
Philanthropy, low-cost loans and direct equity investments: Supporting the signature Ascend Program, helping build the capacity of diverse-led nonprofits across the globe to more effectively support entrepreneurs, and investing in early-stage businesses to help companies drive economic opportunity, including in Black and Latinx communities. Last month we made our initial direct equity investment in Bitwise Industries.
Policy: Releasing new data-driven policy solutions such as increasing resources for the Small Business Administration (SBA) Microloan program, which provides loans of up to $50,000 to help small businesses. The firm will support advancing these policy reforms to help address the immediate and long-term challenges small business owners face.
Supplier diversity: Spending an additional $750 million with Black and Latinx suppliers, and co-investing up to $200 million in middle market businesses that are or will be minority owned via a new initiative with Ariel Alternatives.
Wrap-around support: Launching a nationwide Minority Entrepreneurs program to help entrepreneurs in historically underserved areas access 1:1 coaching, technical assistance and capital.
Together, these commitments will help reduce barriers to capital access and support the growth of thousands of additional underserved businesses.
Hispanic small business owners are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the US.
The number of Hispanic business owners grew 34% over the past 10 years as compared to 1% for all U.S. business owners, according to a recent study from Stanford University.
The following are 10 resources that advance, promote, support, and help Hispanic businesses to grow and thrive.
United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC)
The mission of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is “To foster Hispanic economic development and to create sustainable prosperity for the benefit of American society.” The USHCC promotes the economic growth, development, and interests of Hispanic-owned businesses. It also advocates on behalf of 260 major American corporations and serves as the umbrella organization for more than 250 local chambers and business associations nationwide. Twitter: @USHCC
The Hispanic Retail Chamber of Commerce (HRCOC)
The Hispanic Retail Chamber of Commerce represents U.S. Hispanic retail businesses and their interests and priorities to the government and in the media. With Accredited Alliances in every state, the HRCOC serves members of every size and in many retail sectors, such as supermarkets and food & beverage distributors. Various membership plans are available. Twitter: @RetailChamber
Hispanic Association of Small Businesses (H.A.S.B.)
The Hispanic Association of Small Business provides minority business owners, and aspiring business owners, with educational materials, business workshops, and English workshops to improve the success of the community. By advocating on behalf of individuals, small businesses, and entrepreneurs, the H.A.S.B. works to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against socially disadvantaged or underprivileged small businesses. Facebook: @hasb.org
Hispanic Small Business Center from Hello Alice
The Hispanic Small Business Center is a microsite of Hello Alice, a free, multichannel platform that helps businesses launch and grow. Cofounded by Carolyn Rodz and Elizabeth Gore, Hello Alice encompasses a community of more than 200,000 business owners in all 50 states and across the globe. The Hispanic Small Business Center partners with enterprise business services, government agencies, and institutions to help grow small and medium-sized businesses. The website provides resources, how-to guides, and research. Twitter: @HelloAlice
Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)
Part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Minority Business Development Agency promotes the growth of minority-owned businesses and helps Hispanic business owners access and connect with capital, contracts, and markets. The MBDA also advocates and promotes minority-owned business with elected officials, policymakers, and business leaders. Twitter: @USMBDA
National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC)
The National Minority Supplier Development Council advances business opportunities for certified minority business enterprises and connects them to corporate members to encourage supplier diversity. You apply for NMSDC certification through one of its regional councils. The organization connects more than 12,000 certified minority-owned businesses to a network of corporate members who wish to purchase their products, services, and solutions. The NMSDC corporate membership includes many public and privately-owned companies, as well as healthcare companies, colleges, and universities. Twitter: @NMSDCHQ
Grants.gov is an e-government initiative operating under the Office of Management and Budget. The system contains information on more than 1,000 federal grant programs and vets grant applications for federal agencies. By registering with the website, Hispanic and other business owners can apply for any grants available, as long as the company meets the requirements of the grant. To apply you will need a DUNS Number, which is a unique nine-character identification number provided by the commercial company Dun & Bradstreet (D&B). Twitter: @grantsdotgov
Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR)
The Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility’s mission is to advance the inclusion of Hispanics in corporate America at a level proportionate with Hispanic economic contributions in the areas of employment, procurement, philanthropy, and governance. With helpful programs, research, and virtual seminars, the HACR is committed to making a difference in the way Hispanics are treated and perceived in Corporate America. Twitter: @HACRORG
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC)
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is a Congressional Member organization, governed by the Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives. The CHC addresses national and international issues and crafts policies that impact the Hispanic community. The Caucus is dedicated to voicing and advancing, through the legislative process, issues affecting Hispanics in the United States, Puerto Rico, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Twitter: @HispanicCaucus
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
Founded in 1929, the League of United Latin American Citizens is the largest and oldest Hispanic organization in the U.S. LULAC strives to improve the economic condition, education, political influence, housing, health and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs. With more than 1,000 councils nationwide, the organization’s advisory board consists of Fortune 500 companies, which fosters stronger partnerships between corporate America and the Hispanic community. Twitter: @LULAC
While starting a minority-owned business has its share of challenges, the opportunities to grow are enormous. Statistics show that by 2044, more than half of all Americans are projected to belong to a minority group.
Founders of color and/or minority founders bring a unique perspective to their ventures that sets them apart – helping them to not only create a strong brand identity, but a highly successful and thriving business.
Below are 3 tips to help you brand your business when you’re just starting out:
A Brand is More Than Your Name
Your company’s brand is defined by its business name, logo or symbol, design, brand voice and literally everything visual about the company.
These visual elements are what form your brand identity — what you, customers and prospects can see.
But a brand is more than its brand identity.
A brand also includes your company’s reputation, values, the way your products and services are advertised, as well as the experiences your customers, social media followers and prospects have with your company.
In fact, every decision your company makes, and every action that it takes, affects the brand.
Leaving your brand identity to chance will hurt you and your business. You must be proactive in creating a memorable brand and brand identity.
The goal of branding is to tell a company’s story in a way that creates loyalty, awareness and excitement. Those who created brands like Harpo, FUBU and Zumba Fitness understood the importance of building a strong brand when they started their ventures. You can do the same.
Create Your Own Brand Strategy
On a blank sheet of paper, fully define your company’s vision, mission and values. Once you’ve done that, articulate your brand positioning, which explains how your company is different in this marketplace and from your competitors.
Brand positioning will be crucial when you write a business plan. Lenders and investors will want to understand how you will differentiate and why those differences will help you succeed.
It’s not unusual for minority business owners and founders of color to observe different problems or to offer different solutions than business owners from other groups. This is what allows you to bring innovative products and services designed for everyone or pick a segment of your target market and create products or services specifically for them.
Once you understand brand positioning, you must articulate your unique selling proposition, or USP – essentially what your business stands for. For minority founders and founders of color, the USP can focus on a smaller group’s specific needs within a larger market or on the unique innovations your products bring to the broader market.
Once you have defined this, it’s now time to create your core brand identity assets. You’ll need to work with an expert to create a good business name for your new business, a unique logo design, a business website and other visual elements that will reflect your brand.
Execute your brand strategy
After you’ve developed your core identity, you need to find the right way to communicate your brand through marketing.
Execution is crucial – and here, too, is where founders of color and minority entrepreneurs can face numerous obstacles and a scaling gap.
For example, only 19 percent of Black-owned businesses and 20 percent of Hispanic-owned businesses grow to 10 or more employees, compared to 25 percent of companies owned by founders from other groups.
A good example of brand strategy execution is Rihanna’s Fenty brand, which offered substantially more shades of foundation and other products that include all skin tones, targeting women of all ethnicities and body types.
Before Fenty, most beauty brands focused on only a segment of the beauty market. Few brands, for example, offered shades of foundation for all skin tones. But after Fenty’s successful launch (in 17 countries on the same day), other beauty brands had to quickly reflect on the lack of diversity in their products and marketing.
While not everyone is a global music superstar like Rihanna, you don’t need to be one to differentiate your business.
Inclusivity, and not merely celebrity, was Fenty’s unique selling proposition.
What’s your unique selling proposition? Carefully consider to create a brand strategy that sets you apart from the rest, connects with your customers and puts your business on the path to success.
I’ve always enjoyed working with content creators. At 31, I’ve helped launch creator programs at some of the biggest tech companies, including Instagram and Pinterest.
But it was frustrating to see the pay inequality that content creators constantly faced. So earlier this year, I decided to quit my $150,000-per-year job at TikTok to start a “Glassdoor-like” app called Clara for Creators.
Since launching, it has helped more than 7,000 influencers and content creators share and compare pay rates and review their experiences working with brands.
The pay gap in influencer marketing
Nowadays, there are very few barriers to becoming a content creator. With the popularity of TikTok, for example, you don’t need to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars in equipment; anyone can try to build an audience and monetize their platform with videos they shoot on a smartphone.
As a result, more and more creators have entered the business. The problem? They have little knowledge about how much money they could — or should — be making.
Content creator deals are tricky. How much you’re paid depends on the type of content you’re offering a brand and on what platform — an Instagram post versus a YouTube video, for example. Other factors include the size of your following, engagement metrics and success rates with previous partnerships.
To make matters even more complicated, brands often ask an influencer for their rate instead of offering everyone a base pay with room to negotiate.
Many creators end up selling themselves short, especially women and people of color. I once saw a man get paid 10 times what a woman creator was paid for the same campaign — just because he asked for more. I’ve also seen Latinx creators with triple the following of white creators be paid half as much.
How I started my mission-based business
I knew a major problem that creators faced was that they couldn’t Google how much money they could charge for marketing a product or service on their platform. That lightbulb moment — and how much I cared about the creators I worked with — inspired me to build Clara.
I wanted creators to be able to share reviews of brands they had worked with, along with how much they were paid for different types of content based on their number of followers.
In March 2021, I sent a bunch of cold messages to potential investors on LinkedIn. In July, after weeks of non-stop outreach that turned into more than 10 pitch meetings, I received a small investment from an individual investor. I used that money to contract a team of developers, who I worked alongside to build and test the app.
Clara finally launched for iOS in January this year. Within a month, without spending any money on advertisements, more than 7,000 creators signed up to share their rates on Clara, including top TikTok creators like Devon Rodriguez and Nancy Bullard, who each have 24.4 million and 2.9 million social media followers, respectively.
On January 14, I quit my job at TikTok as a creator program manager to work on Clara full-time. While I am taking a massive pay cut by leaving my 9-to-5, I’m living off money I make as a content creator and my savings.
Right now, I’m focused on raising capital to grow the platform. I’m also spreading the word about equal pay and how important resources like Clara are. l post career advice and other resources on my TikTok account, where I currently have 348,000 followers.
Get paid fairly: Know your rights and do your research
There are many things you can do to work towards greater pay equity for yourself and others in your industry.
When discussing pay with your coworkers, it’s important to know your rights. Some corporations may try to scare you from it by saying that salary talk is against company policy. But under the National Labor Relations Act, many employees have the right to talk about their wages with their coworkers.
I’ve had six full-time jobs, and fear used to keep me from talking about money. But the first time I openly discussed my salary with a colleague, I found out I was being underpaid. I then used that knowledge to look for new roles where I’d be paid more fairly.
These conversations don’t have to be awkward, especially if you’ve established a safe and comfortable relationship. Rather than flat-out asking “How much are you making?,” approach the discussion in a “let’s help each other” way. You might be surprised by the number of people who are willing to talk about it.
Keep in mind that while you have the right to communicate about your wages, your employer may have lawful policies against using their equipment — like work laptops — to have the discussion. Protect yourself by understanding your company’s policy before sending a rallying Slack message.
And always do your research before accepting a contract. Sites like Glassdoor, Levels and Clara offer this data for free.
You can also search sites like TikTok and YouTube to get deep insights about pay. There are many creators who, like me, are open about what they’ve been paid at previous companies — down to stock offerings and sign-on bonuses, and who share information about company cultures overall.
I also created a spreadsheet for people to share their titles and salaries alongside important demographic information I’ve seen left out on other databases, like gender, age and diverse identity fields. So far, it has over 62,000 entries.
Prospanica’s Philadelphia chapter held a panel about Latinas in tech, hosting three Latina women who have had years of experience within the industry.
The webinar hosted Edith Perez, the Senior Technical Product Manager at Comcast; Sól Vázquez, CISA and Senior IT Audit Manager at CVS Health; Shannon Morales, CEO and founder of Tribaja, a diversity focused tech recruitment agency; and was moderated by Carrie Ann Zayas Quintana, Enterprise Innovation, Manager of External Partnerships at PNC. Prospanica, an organization that hosts annual career and professional development seminars and aids Hispanics in networking, hosted the four of them to discuss their experiences, careers, and insights they could offer Latina’s entering the tech industry.
For some of these women, they didn’t start their careers in technology. For Vázquez, she began college pursuing a degree in accounting. But when she took an auditing course, she realized it suited her much better and changed her major. In a similar vein, Morales completed her degree in Finance before she moved into the tech sector.
For Morales, a background in Finance was not a barrier to overcome as she entered the tech industry. As she sought to boost other Hispanics’ networking opportunities, she sought to found her own company. With experience in business and financial matters, she was able to use her skills to create her company, Tribaja.
Global icon Jennifer Lopez and Grameen America, the nation’s fastest-growing microfinance organization, announce they are partnering to advance financial empowerment for Latina businesswomen historically excluded from the financial mainstream.
Grameen America provides access to business capital, credit- and asset-building, financial education and peer support to enable women living below the federal poverty level to boost their income and create jobs in their communities. The new partnership seeks to advance both Lopez’s latest philanthropic project, Limitless Labs, which aims to support Latina-owned small businesses, as well as Grameen America’s goal to empower 600,000 Latina entrepreneurs across 50 U.S. cities with $14 billion in life-changing business capital and 6 million hours of financial education and training by 2030.
Lopez joins as Grameen America’s National Ambassador to advocate for and mentor the organization’s network of over 150,000 small businesses run by women in predominantly Latinx communities across the United States. Limitless Labs, the home for all of Lopez’s philanthropic and values-driven work, aims to uplift, educate and provide essential resources to underserved communities like the one in The Bronx where Lopez grew up. Additional areas of focus include youth empowerment, civic engagement and empowering women with the confidence to live limitlessly.
Grameen America envisions an inclusive society in which all entrepreneurs, regardless of gender, race or income, have access to fair and affordable financial services to support upward economic mobility. The organization provides ongoing financial education to members and reports microloan repayments to credit bureaus to enable participants to build their financial identities. Since its founding in 2008, Grameen America has served over 150,000 women in 23 U.S. cities, distributed $2.6 billion in loans and helped create and maintain 157,000 jobs. The organization’s repayment rate is over 99 percent, and its members have achieved an average credit score of 644 through participation in the program.
To kick off her role as National Ambassador, Lopez will motivate, promote and inspire Latina businesswomen, helping them understand the pathway to financial independence and literacy through joining the Grameen America microloan program. Lopez will mentor the organization’s existing Latina business owners, educating them on the importance of credit and asset-building and developing a savings program to promote financial resilience. The partnership will also enhance Grameen America’s financial education and training platform, prioritizing digital and multimedia resources to promote financial literacy.
“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,” said Jennifer Lopez. “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. This will change the fabric of America!”
“Jennifer Lopez is a trailblazer, having given visibility and advocacy to ensure Latina women are educated, financially empowered and healthy,” said Andrea Jung, president and CEO of Grameen America. “Grameen America is the only organization with the national scale, reach and proven model required to deploy $14 billion in loan capital to emerging businesswomen in Latinx communities. Together we will shape entrepreneurship as a viable pathway to success for Latina women who have historically lacked access to the formal financial markets and are often marginalized from economic opportunity.”
Despite gaps in opportunity, Latina entrepreneurs represent the fastest-growing, yet untapped, segment of U.S. small business owners. In the past 10 years, the number of Latino-owned small businesses has grown 44 percent compared to just four percent for non-Latinos, according to a recent report by the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative. The same report notes Latino-owned businesses are significantly less likely than white-owned businesses to receive loans from national banks, despite demonstrating strong lending criteria. For women, financial exclusion is disproportionately higher as only four percent of all small business loans from mainstream financial institutions go to women, according to a report by the National Women’s Business Council.
“Asking for a loan from a bank is not as easy as people think, and even more challenging for businesswomen in my community,” said Maria Lugo, Grameen America member and owner of Who’s Papi? Tires by Papi, an auto-repair and tire shop located in Woodside, Queens. Lugo joined Grameen America in 2011 to revitalize her family’s struggling business. Today, Lugo’s thriving business has expanded in its size, services and staff to meet growing demand. Most importantly, Lugo’s savings allowed her to send her three children to college. “The road to business success is not always easy to navigate, but with hard work and access to financial services, education and mentorship, it’s possible to achieve your vision,” said Lugo. “Surround yourself with people who are going to lift you higher.”
“I think what is important to me is never giving up,” the 90-year-old Puerto Rican actress, dancer, singer and activist said in a recent phone interview, “Things do change and times do change, and the people who weren’t listening to me and what I stand for let’s say, 20 years ago, are listening more.”
Moreno’s determination plays a large role in her successful and expansive career. During Hispanic Network Magazine’s 30 years, Moreno has graced our cover more than once. She is a legend, with accolades that include EGOT status, with Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards to her name.
While she is proud of her recognition, she stills sees room for improvement in terms of substantial Latinx representation within the entertainment industry. It is a challenge that has been present throughout her entire career.
“I see strides, and I don’t see enough,” Moreno said. “I think we are definitely underrepresented.”
As a young actress at MGM Studios in the 1950s, she was stuck playing ethnically ambiguous female roles she refers to as “dusky maidens.”
West Side Story in 1961 was a turning point for Moreno, who became the first Latina to win an Academy Award for acting for her role as Anita.
Moreno has been vocal through the years of how badly she wanted the role and the chance to play a Hispanic character with substance. She has also spoken candidly about the little difference the Oscar made in the roles she was offered after the win.
“It’s like, ‘How does it feel to have all those awards that no other Latino has?’” Moreno said, “Well, it feels wonderful, but it doesn’t get me the work. It has never gotten me the work.”
After her Oscar win, Moreno did Broadway and television but didn’t make another motion picture for seven years.
For most of the 1970s, Moreno was a main cast member on the PBS educational children’s program, The Electric Company, and won a Grammy for the show’s children’s album.
She won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for The Ritz in 1975. Moreno won her first Emmy Award in 1977 for her appearance on The Muppet Show, and received a second Emmy the following year for The Rockford Files.
In her 2021 documentary, Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It, Moreno shares that as a young actress starting out, she looked up to Elizabeth Taylor simply because there were no role models for a young Puerto Rican girl. There was no one on screen who looked like her.
Ironically, Moreno’s time on the stage and screens both big and small, mean many of today’s Latinx stars grew up looking up to her.
In Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It, Eva Longoria reflects on watching Moreno in The Electric Company and recognizing her as someone that looked like her. In Jennifer Lopez’s own documentary, Half-Time, she specifically names Moreno as her inspiration for aspiring to dance, act and sing.
Another Latinx entertainer who grew up watching Moreno is Ariana DeBose.
DeBose took on Moreno’s most famous role in Steven Spielberg’s 2021 adaptation of West Side Story, which Moreno also starred in and served as an executive producer for. In 2022, DeBose received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for playing Anita. She is the first Afro-Latina, the first openly queer actor of color and the first openly queer woman to win the award. It’s a recognition that may not have been possible without Moreno’s own groundbreaking win.
“First of all, I am so happy for her, and I am happy for the Hispanic community,” Moreno said of DeBose, “She is Afro-Latina and that opens another door, which is fantastic. She is obviously very aware of the exclusion that we suffer from.”
Moreno places a lot of hope on the younger generation to lend their voice to changing things for the Latinx community.
“I am very hopeful that she will bring the attention of the younger people whose ear and interest we definitely don’t have,” said Moreno.
Moreno knows how to speak up too.
She has talked openly about her experiences with sexual assault, abortion and suicide and has long been an advocated for women’s rights. Her early social activism began at the March on Washington, where she was present during Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famous “I Have a Dream” speech and stretches today, when she again recounted her own abortion story in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. In 2004, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and in 2009, President Barack Obama awarded her the National Medal of Arts.
“It is a question of never, ever giving up on what you have to say that is important to helping our community,” said Moreno.
Speaking up takes courage, but Moreno admits she has never had trouble being loud.
“I am a raucous person, and that is the Latina part of me. I am noisy, I laugh too loud,” Moreno said, “But that is who I am. I love that part of me.”
From 2017 to 2020, Moreno took on the role of Lydia, in One Day at a Time, the sitcom inspired by Norman Lear’s 1975 series of the same name. The reboot focused on Penelope, a newly single Army veteran, and her Cuban-American family. As Lydia, Moreno embraced the best parts of Latin culture, without slipping into stereotypes, and demonstrated what is possible when we are able to lovingly tell our own stories.
“I have a deep love for my people,” Moreno said, “I love who we are, and I love what we represent, because we represent deep values. I love our food; I love our music; I am never unaware of the Latin-ness of all of that.”
There is plenty of new Moreno content coming out later this year too.
This summer she will be filming a Christmas movie for Lifetime in Nashville, and she is also joining Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Tom Brady for football-themed road-trip movie, 80 for Brady.
Moreno also has a role in Vin Diesel’s upcoming Fast and Furious movie, Fast X, as Grandma Toretto, Dom Toretto’s abuela.
“I had an absolutely fabulous time,” Moreno said of the filming, which took place in London. “We were freezing; we’re talking 50 degrees. But I loved it, I had a great time.”
Moreno said she had such a good time she might even make an appearance in the next film.
“I may do one more, so that would be insane,” Moreno said, “I mean, I am 90 years old and look at me!”
Former WNBA player Niesha Butler has opened the first Afro-Latina-owned STEM camp, S.T.E.A.M. Champs, in New York City to reduce accessibility barriers to tech educational resources for Brooklyn youth.
“If a kid could actually say that they can be LeBron James, and roll it off their tongue as easy as that, then they can literally say ‘yeah, I can also put a man on the moon,’ or ‘I can also create the next app,'” Butler told ABC News.
Butler, a New York City native, says “there’s talent in Brooklyn.” She established S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Champs in the middle of Brooklyn to encourage inner-city youth to channel their ambition into educational opportunities. Butler also hires interns, may of whom have tried coding for the first time with the program, she says.
“People sell basketball dreams every other second in our community. I thought it was really important to, let’s sell these tech dreams,” Butler said.
Prior to opening her doors in Brooklyn, Butler partnered with organizations like Girl Scouts, BronxWorks and a local AAU basketball team to host STEM-focused workshops reaching over 300 New York City students. Monday was the first day of camp in the newly opened facility.
“There’s not a lot of people of color in tech,” Butler said. “These jobs are open for everybody and they’re empty…so obviously we need to do a better job at educating our kids and in recruiting them.”
Other tech education camps and workshops across the nation have worked to close the gap and make tech careers interesting and accessible to students of underserved communities.
Black Girls CODE is one of those resources providing workshops and public speaking opportunities for Black girls. Program alumni Kimora Oliver and Azure Butler say that the program’s first chapter in California’s Bay Area created an environment that allowed local Black female students to envision themselves in the tech industry.
“Unfortunately, STEM is a white and male dominated field,” Oliver told ABC News. “I feel like [Black Girls CODE] is giving a diverse group of Black girls the exposure that they need to decide for themselves whether they want to continue with STEM in the future.”
For almost 40 years, another program called Academically Interest Minds (AIM) at Kettering University has tailored its pre-college curriculum to expose youth of color to STEM coursework and campus life.
“49% of African American students who attend Kettering University now, are AIM graduates,” Ricky D. Brown, the university’s director of multicultural student initiatives and the AIM program, told ABC News.
For many, STEM educational resources introduce an element of choice in considering STEM and exploring pathways of academic interests.
A study released in July by the National Bureau of Economic Research says that early intervention programs like S.T.E.A.M Champs, AIM and Black Girls CODE are effective in helping students achieve academic success in higher education and STEM majors.
“Some of these kids don’t have a computer at home to study,” Butler said. “When I go to some of these centers, they don’t have good Wi-Fi…they have outdated computers.”
According to the study, underrepresentation in STEM is due to a lack of preparation and access to educational resources.
“Given that STEM preparation and college access are shaped prior to college entrance, STEM focused enrichment programs for high school students are promising vehicles to reduce disparities in STEM degree attainment,” the study’s authors wrote.
Click here to read the full article on ABC News Radio.