Former WNBA star Niesha Butler opens first Afro-Latina-owned STEM camp in New York City

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Former WNBA star Niesha Butler opens first Afro-Latina-owned STEM camp in New York City

By ABC News Radio

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.

How One Skincare Company Is Reclaiming The Clean Beauty Of Their Latina Ancestors
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VAMIGAS is a clean skin care, hair care and beauty brand created by Latinas using botanicals from Latin America. VAMIGAS

By Jennifer “Jay” Palumbo, Forbes

Multiple academic studies have found that Latinas have more hormone-disrupting chemicals in their bodies than white women. Researchers say this may be due to Latinas outspending other groups in beauty purchases by 30%. They also have higher infertility rates, breast cancer, and U.S.-born Latinas are three times more likely to experience preterm birth than their foreign-born counterparts.

According to a Nielsen report from 2013, Hispanic women are a key growth engine of the U.S. female population. They are estimated to become 30% of the total female population by 2060, while the white female population will drop to 43%. The report also predicts that by 2060, there will be no single dominant ethnic group. Instead, the female (and total) population will comprise a diverse ethnic plurality where Latinas play a sizable role.

Despite these projections, skincare brands targeting Latinas tend to hide problematic chemicals like phthalates, parabens, phenols, and preservatives in their products, often in fragrances. However, excellent products are costly and largely avoid marketing to Latinas or market them incorrectly, treating them as an afterthought or homogeneous.

Christina Kelmon, one of the few Latina investors in Silicon Valley and CEO of the makeup brand Belle en Argent, has created a skincare brand, Vamigas, that aims to reclaim the clean beauty ingredients of her ancestors. It is fragrance-free, affordable, and knows how to speak to the modern Latinx Woman.

“I read these studies when I was pregnant with my daughter, and I tried to be very mindful of what I put into my body, but it was hard, almost impossible, to find products that were clean and affordable and that spoke to me,” Kelmon shared. “This is why I created a makeup brand and a wellness and skincare brand that speaks directly to the Latinx community.”

Multiple academic studies have found that Latinas have more hormone-disrupting chemicals in their bodies than white women. Researchers say this may be due to Latinas outspending other groups in beauty purchases by 30%. They also have higher infertility rates, breast cancer, and U.S.-born Latinas are three times more likely to experience preterm birth than their foreign-born counterparts.

According to a Nielsen report from 2013, Hispanic women are a key growth engine of the U.S. female population. They are estimated to become 30% of the total female population by 2060, while the white female population will drop to 43%. The report also predicts that by 2060, there will be no single dominant ethnic group. Instead, the female (and total) population will comprise a diverse ethnic plurality where Latinas play a sizable role.

Despite these projections, skincare brands targeting Latinas tend to hide problematic chemicals like phthalates, parabens, phenols, and preservatives in their products, often in fragrances. However, excellent products are costly and largely avoid marketing to Latinas or market them incorrectly, treating them as an afterthought or homogeneous.

Christina Kelmon, one of the few Latina investors in Silicon Valley and CEO of the makeup brand Belle en Argent, has created a skincare brand, Vamigas, that aims to reclaim the clean beauty ingredients of her ancestors. It is fragrance-free, affordable, and knows how to speak to the modern Latinx Woman.

“I read these studies when I was pregnant with my daughter, and I tried to be very mindful of what I put into my body, but it was hard, almost impossible, to find products that were clean and affordable and that spoke to me,” Kelmon shared. “This is why I created a makeup brand and a wellness and skincare brand that speaks directly to the Latinx community.”

Kelmon, a 4th generation Mexican-American, and cofounder Ann Dunning, from Chile, discovered Latinas and infertility issues and the paraben-fragrance connection. As a result, they have created a line of skincare serums with clean, organic ingredients like Yerba Mate, Maracuja, Rosa Mosqueta, Prickly Pear, and Chia from Chile, Mexico Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, and more.

“We want to be the leading clean beauty and skincare brand focused on Latinas in the industry,” said Kelmon. “A wellness brand that Latinas feel connected to, that speaks our language, understands where they come from, and doesn’t use old, tired stereotypes that don’t apply to us anymore.”

Click here to read the full article on Forbes.

Meet The Young Latina Immigrant Behind Boston’s First Zero-Waste Store
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Latina Immigrant opens first zero waste store

By The Bay State Banner

In a sunny storefront not far from the Boston Harbor, Maria Vasco lingers off to the side of the cash register, smiling but nervous, as she watches one of her first two employees ring up a customer. For over a year, Vasco was the only employee — the founder and CEO — of Uvida, Boston’s first and only zero-waste shop.

The name comes from the Spanish word “vida” meaning “life.” Vasco said she tells customers “you give life” by shopping plastic-free and reducing waste. Uvida offers a variety of home-goods essentials in plastic-free packaging, from deodorant and lip balm in cardboard tubes to tissues and toilet paper made from recycled materials.

“The business is just myself, which in the beginning was great. But it started getting isolated, getting to be too much on my plate. Right now is my first time having employees,” Vasco told Zenger News.

The storefront opened last December during the pandemic, but Vasco launched the business as an online shop in 2019, while still a full-time student at University of Massachusetts-Boston.

“I worked part-time at restaurants and internships just to make ends meet. Then at nighttime, I would stay up until four in the morning doing market research, looking at products, making my website,” Vasco said. “And it was like the best time of my life. I just was having so much fun doing it, that it didn’t matter how much I had on my plate. I always made time for that.”

Vasco started advocating for environmental issues in high school while competing with the debate team. That’s where she first came across the statistic that in 2050 the ocean will have more plastic than fish.

“I never thought the spark I felt was based on the things I was advocating for, I thought it was because I was debating,” Vasco said.

When it came time for college, Vasco, who was born in Cali, Colombia, and moved to East Boston at age 4, chose to attend UMass-Boston for its diversity and affordability. She was undocumented until her junior year of college, making her ineligible for federal financial aid. (Massachusetts allows undocumented students to pay in-state tuition.) Vasco’s debate coach suggested she pursue a degree in political science.

“By the first semester, I was like ‘no way, I cannot do this.’ It just wasn’t my spark.”

While looking for a class to fulfill a science requirement, Vasco landed on environmental science and quickly fell in love with it. After switching her major, she started talking to her professors outside of class, learning about their specific areas of research and expertise. Through those conversations, Vasco decided she wanted to focus on plastic pollution.

“This is something I can control, because I touch plastic every day,” Vasco remembers.

It was during her freshman year of college that Vasco started trying out plastic-free products. There were some she loved, and some she didn’t, but purchasing any of them required a lot of online research. When she did settle on a product she liked, she would have to remember the website in order to restock. She wanted a curation of products she liked all in one place, and that sparked her idea for Uvida.

“I am my own ideal customer,” Vasco said. “I also need to shop plastic-free. I use all these products myself. So I realized that if I don’t have this store, even in my own city, and I have to be the one that does it, then I will.”

Click here to read the full article on The Bay State Banner.

This 31-year-old quit her $150,000-a-year tech job to start an equal pay app: Here’s how she got started
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Christen Nino De Guzman, founder of Clara for CreatorsPhoto: Christen Nino De Guzman

By Christen Nino De Guzman, CNBC

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.

Click here to read the full article on CNBC.

These Afro-Latina Creatives Carved Out Their Own Career — & Found Success
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These Afro-Latina Creatives Carved Out Their Own Career — & Found Success

By Hilary Shepherd, Refinery 29

Honoring long-held traditions while looking toward the future might be a popular practice around the holiday season, but for some, it’s a year-round business. Just ask 28-year-old digital creator Julianny Casado and 26-year-old makeup artist Sabré O’Neil. As Afro-Latinas (Casado is a first-generation American of Dominican origin; O’Neil is a second-generation American of Puerto Rican descent), the two creatives feel strongly about regularly celebrating their roots not only through their work, but through their own appearances and unique senses of style, as well.

Both Casado and O’Neil say that the journey in accepting their identities wasn’t always an easy one. “Growing up as an Afro-Latina, it was really hard to find my crowd,” O’Neil says. “I didn’t know if I was going to hang with the Hispanic people or the other crowds, so I was always by myself.” By continuing to push forward and make space for themselves in two fields that have historically lacked diversity, they’re helping to make way for opportunities for the next generation of creatives within their respective communities. In partnership with , the sneaker brand that’s been embracing both tradition and innovation through fun twists on the timeless Chuck style for more than 100 years, we asked Casado and O’Neil to share how they discovered their passions, the ways in which their identities influence their work, and how they redefine classic Converse silhouettes in 2021. Read their stories, below.

Julianny Casado, Digital Creator

I discovered my passion… “When I was 16 years old. I’ve always been obsessed with cameras, but my cousin had this really cool DSLR camera, and it really changed the way I felt about photos and how you could tell stories. I wanted to work for National Geographic and do crazy documentative stories. It took off from there. After that, I was always obsessed with photo formats and anything visual. Everything else — like curation and art direction — just grew. I learned from my mistakes and experience.”

My own unique aesthetic is… “Very candid and life-like. I like things to be as organic as possible. Very vibrant, too. I’m obsessed with color — it brings a certain character to the story that I’m telling. I work with the plus-size community and it’s been an experience that I’m so honored to be a part of. There are so many people who aren’t being celebrated, but they should be because they’re athletes and champions in their own right. They go out every day and smash whatever it is that they do. I love giving voices to people who feel like they don’t have one.”

How my identity as an Afro-Latina shapes my work: “I’m from New York City, but my family is from the Dominican Republic. I also have a huge lineage of Afro-descendants, and I love it. It influences everything that I do. I don’t take anything for granted because I know where I come from. I know what my ancestors have been through, and I know I have better opportunities just for being here today. I’ve watched my family turn bread into gold. I’ve seen them work hard at everything that they do, and it’s taught me that it’s the little details that people might not speak about or see right away. That’s definitely something I like to highlight and photograph — the things that aren’t completely obvious or aren’t typically socially accepted as beautiful. I think those are the best parts of life.”

I struggled with my identity… “As I grew up. I’m a first-generation American, so I didn’t have the Dominican roots that my older siblings had. I felt like there was a huge dissociation, but now as an adult, I’m really enjoying learning what those who came before me have done and how important it is to keep our culture and our traditions going. They are the things that make us, and if you don’t practice them, you lose them and you become like everyone else.”

To be Afro-Latina in America today is about… “Digging deeper into your identity. It’s a blessing. We have to stand together because there are so many people who want to deny where we come from. They want us to fit into what the rest of the world’s narrative is. Honestly, I’m so proud to be Afro-Latina and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Not my hair, not my skin, not my experiences.”

My first memory of Converse sneakers… “Was when I was 12. My first pair was white and they were low-tops. I love Converse — they’re my favorite sneakers. They were the coolest shoes growing up. They were so simple, comfortable, and affordable.”

I would redefine classic Converse silhouettes… “By adding a color-blocking pattern to a pair. Color is my safe zone and it makes me feel closest to my identity. I would choose pastel colors because they remind me of my island.”

Click here to read the full article on Refinery 29.

SIA Scotch Whisky to Support Entrepreneurs of Color in the Food, Beverage and Hospitality Industry with the Return of the Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund
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SIA Scotch Whisky founder holding a bottle

By Yahoo! Finance

SIA Scotch Whisky, an award-winning spirits brand founded by first-generation Hispanic entrepreneur Carin Luna-Ostaseski, is bringing back The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund by SIA Scotch for the second consecutive year. The groundbreaking initiative provides entrepreneurs of color with access to the capital and mentorship that will help them take action, build stronger companies and have a positive impact on their communities.

This year, the grant program will focus on growing businesses specifically within the brand’s own world – the food, beverage, and hospitality sector [1]. This space has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and its small business owners continue to face massive barriers, such as adapting to consumers’ ever-evolving preferences and spending behaviors, adjusting to increased at-home demand, and facing supply chain disruptions. As a brand built from the ground up, SIA Scotch Whisky truly understands the importance of supporting these often-overlooked small business owners along their entrepreneurial journeys.

“As an entrepreneur from a historically underrepresented and underserved community, gaining access to funding and mentorship during my startup journey was always an uphill battle,” said founder Luna-Ostaseski. “The food, beverage and hospitality space is very competitive, and I know from firsthand experience how game-changing support can be. SIA Scotch Whisky was born out of my perseverance and passion, and to this day our purpose is to inspire other entrepreneurs of color to achieve the unexpected – just like I did. I am so proud of The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund and its continued commitment to paying it forward.”

However, success is not easy to come by. Entrepreneurs of color tend to face more obstacles when it comes to raising capital and are far more likely to get shut out of financing completely. Despite approximately 18.7% of all U.S. businesses being minority-owned [2], representing over 50% of new businesses started and creating 4.7 million new jobs, this group is still largely excluded in funding – receiving only a 2% share of venture capital annually over the last decade [3].

The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund by SIA Scotch is inspired by Carin Luna-Ostaseski’s entrepreneurial journey and launches in partnership with Hello Alice, a free online platform that connects its community of nearly one million small business owners with the capital, tools and education they need to grow their businesses.

“Entrepreneurs of color are an economic force in the U.S and recognizing their impact in our communities is of great importance,” said Elizabeth Gore, co-founder and President, Hello Alice. “In our most recent survey, 89% of small business owners claim access to capital is limiting their business growth potential. Along with our partner SIA Scotch Whisky, we are excited to continue this groundbreaking grant program to help support this underserved community and provide the resources, tools and additional exposure that these businesses need to succeed.”

The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund by SIA Scotch will award $10,000 grants to 11 qualifying entrepreneurs who self-identify as people of color, for a total of $110,000. To apply, visit https://hialice.co/siascotchfund now through Sept. 26, 2022. To be eligible, business owners must be 25 years of age or older (as of November 1, 2022) and a legal U.S. resident. Businesses must be owned 51%+ by person(s) of color, a for-profit business producing less than $5M in annual gross revenue, not be an alcohol beverage wholesale or retail license holder or a business which makes/distributes/imports alcohol, and must operate and/or conduct business in at least one of the following states: CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, IL, MA, MN, NJ, NV, NY, RI and/or TX. For complete eligibility criteria and important restrictions, visit the application site and terms & conditions. The final grant recipients will be announced on Nov. 1, 2022, kicking off National Entrepreneur Month.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund is a continuation of SIA Scotch Whisky’s nearly decade-long commitment to donating a portion of sales to organizations that help support underrepresented entrepreneurs – the dreamers, movers and shakers who are shaping the future. When getting into the entrepreneurial spirit or when sipping on actual spirits, SIA encourages consumers of legal drinking age to drink responsibly.

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Finance.

Meet Afro-Latina Scientist Dr. Jessica Esquivel
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Dr. Jessica Esquivel

By Erica Nahmad, Be Latina

It’s undeniable that representation matters and the idea of what a scientist could or should look like is changing, largely thanks to pioneers like Afro-Latina scientist Dr. Jessica Esquivel, who is breaking barriers for women in STEM one step at a time.

Dr. Esquivel isn’t just extraordinary because of what she is capable of as an Afro-Latina astrophysicist — she’s also extraordinary in her vulnerability and relatability. She’s on a mission to break barriers in science and to show the humanity behind scientists.

Dr. Esquivel makes science accessible to everyone, no matter what you look like or where you come from. As one of the only Afro-Latina scientists in her field, and one of the only women who looked like her to pursue a Ph.D. in physics, Dr. Esquivel knows a thing or two about the importance of representation, especially in STEM fields and science labs.

Women make up only 28% of the science, technology, engineering, and math workforce in the U.S. Those disparities are even more severe when you start to look at minority populations.

“When you start looking at the intersections of race and gender and then even sexuality, those numbers drop significantly,” Esquivel told CBS Chicago. “There are only about 100 to 150 black women with their Ph.D. in physics in the country!”

Fighting against the isolation of uniqueness
Dr. Jessica Esquivel recalls being a nontraditional student and being “the only” when she entered graduate school for physics — the only woman in her class, the only Black, the only Mexican, the only lesbian — and all of that made her feel very isolated.

“On top of such rigorous material, the isolation and otherness that happens due to being the only or one of few is an added burden marginalized people, especially those with multiple marginalized identities, have to deal with,” Dr. Esquivel told BeLatina in an email interview. On top of feeling like an outsider, isolation was also consuming. “Being away from family at a predominately white institution, where the number of microaggressions was constant, really affected my mental health and, in turn, my coursework and research, so it was important to surround myself with mentors who supported me and believed in my ability to be a scientist.”

While she anticipated that the physics curriculum would be incredibly challenging, she was definitely not prepared for how hard the rest of the experience would be and how it would impact her as a student and a scientist.

The challenges she faced professionally and personally made her realize early on just how crucial representation is in academia and all fields, but especially in STEM. “It was really impactful for me to learn that there were other Black women who had made it out of the grad school metaphorical trenches. It’s absolutely important to create inclusive spaces where marginalized people, including Black, Latina, and genderqueer people, can thrive,” she said.

“The secrets of our universe don’t discriminate, these secrets can and should be unraveled by all those who wish to embark on that journey, and my aim is to clear as many barriers and leave these physics spaces better than I entered them.”

When inclusion and equal opportunities are the ultimate goal
Dr. Jessica Esquivel isn’t just dedicating her time and energy to studying complex scientific concepts — think quantum entanglement, space-time fabric, the building blocks of the universe… some seriously abstract physics concepts straight out of a sci-fi movie, as she explains. On top of her research, she put in so much extra work to show people, especially younger generations of women of color, that the physics and STEM world is not some old white man’s club where this prestigious knowledge is only available to them. Dr. Esquivel is an expert in her field; she knows things that no one else currently knows and has the ability and the power to transfer that knowledge to others and pass it down to others. There is a place for everyone, including people who look like her, in the STEM world, and she’s on a mission to inspire others while working to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the STEM space.

“Many of us who are underrepresented in STEM have taken on the responsibility of spearheading institutional change toward more just, equitable, and inclusive working environments as a form of survival,” she explains. “I’m putting in more work on top of the research I do because I recognize that I do better research if I feel supported and if I feel like I can bring my whole self to my job. My hope is that one day Black and brown women and gender-queer folks interested in science can pursue just that and not have to fight for their right to be a scientist or defend that they are worthy of doing science.”

Click here to read the full article on Be Latina.

Arizona Afro-Latina is raising awareness of her culture as leader for female empowerment
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Franchela Ulises founded the organization

By , NJ

Where are you from?

It’s a question that Franchela Ulises hears often in Arizona when she speaks in Spanish. In her native language.

She is used to the question. But she’ll never get used to the strange looks from others when she’s in public. She’s seen that look at the grocery store or at the park when she’s with her kids and they’re all talking in Spanish.

Sometimes she laughs it off. Other times, she lets her frustration flow.

Franchela was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Her parents are from the Dominican Republic.

In the country of her parents, Franchela doesn’t attract attention. Here in Arizona, in a desert state on the border with Mexico, a Black woman who speaks Spanish is watched with curiosity and sometimes reveals the prejudice toward people who share her heritage.

Facing discrimination. Not feeling recognized, included or accepted as an Afro-Latina. It’s exhausting, she says.

Franchela channeled her frustration into creating “Mujeres of all Shades.” The organization helps women of all races and cultural and ethnic backgrounds champion their own style, their own identities, their own expressions of beauty and brilliance.

She’s cultivating a collective of women who are changing the fashion industry to be more inclusive of what women want and how they want to be seen and heard.

Together, they fight for confidence and self-esteem and against stereotypes about beauty, race and gender. For Franchela, it is a movement.

She has three daughters. She wants them to see more Afro-Latinas represented on television and other media.

On a cool day in downtown Phoenix, Franchela is posing for photos and speaking in Spanish and English. She explains what life is like for Afro-Latinas in Arizona.

She fixes her hair and adjusts her jacket with splashes of vibrant colors from lime green to indigo blue. She crosses her legs and sets aside her Gucci bag.

Looking at the camera with the confidence of a Hollywood star on stage, a model on the runway or mama with three babies, she smiles and says: “I’m Afro-Latina.”

She releases a mischievous laugh adding, “I’m a little bit of everything.”

Franchela is 30 years old. She tries to explain how she defines herself, shows her identities in simple, straightforward ways that still seem so complicated in the eyes of people who do not know her cultural mix and her roots.

Click here to read the full article on NJ.

Meet The Latina Founders Of A Specialty Coffee Company Dedicated To Celebrating Latin American Heritage
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Casa Dos Chicas Café Founders Ana Ocansey-Jimenez and Oneida Franco

By Girl Talk HQ

For all of us coffee drinkers, we’re used to getting up in the morning, reaching for our favorite mug, and pouring ourselves a cup of joe without giving a second thought to where our grinds originated from. We need the caffeine to kickstart our day, and then we’re on our way!

But what if we told you there was a brand of coffee that takes great care to share with its customers where the coffee is sourced from and how it is made, making it part of their brand identity? That brand is Casa Dos Chicas Café, founded by accountants and mothers Ana Ocansey-Jimenez and Oneida Franco.

These two finance experts turned coffee connoisseurs have added “Entrepreneur” to their list of powerful titles as the founders of Casa Dos Chicas Café, a brand of The Whole Kitchen, which was also founded by the Latina duo.

Casa Dos Chicas Café offers organic, single-origin, specialty coffees sourced mainly from small, family-owned farms or multi-family cooperatives across Latin America and the Caribbean including the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Colombia, and Peru. Through Casa Dos Chicas Café, they are dedicated to celebrating Latin American heritage while promoting equitable, sustainable practices along the entire coffee supply chain.

We loved the sound of this company (and it made us immediately want to drink a good cup of coffee!) so we had the chance to speak with both Oneida and Ana about the origins of the business, how they are working to lift other Latinas in the business world, and why representation is important to them.

How did you two first meet and decide to go on this entrepreneurship journey together?

We met in New York City while working together in corporate accounting. We hit it off and quickly became friends! Soon enough we began a tradition of drinking Cuban cafecito in the breakroom during the afternoons which continued for the next 4.5 years.

We decided to embark on this entrepreneurship journey when we saw how we could impact people’s lives while fulfilling our own. Ana put our first financial model together and we said “Let’s do this!”

Can you tell us where the idea for Casa Dos Chicas Café came from, and where your love of coffee originated?

The idea of Casa Dos Chicas Café was nurtured through the building of our friendship, sharing our cultures through foods, and drinking cafecito during our time at work. We even purchased an electric greca/moka pot to make the afternoon brews, which we still have and will soon be framed.

We went our separate ways as we continued to develop our careers but stayed in touch. We would continue to see each other often for lunch and would of course enjoy our coffee and dream of the future. The love of coffee came from our families tradition, we have countless stories that our Dominican and Mexican parents shared with us and we now share with each other.

Ana had been taking different coffee courses and learning as much about specialty coffee as possible. Through that we made great connections with people throughout the supply chain. We saw the inequalities throughout it and decided we wanted to influence and do our part. This along with showing people how the third wave of coffee is changing the coffee scene, we saw a gap where we could educate on what specialty coffee is, why it is special, and how they too can have it and enjoy it.

This new venture is part of The Whole Kitchen brand. Why is expansion important to your business, and why should all entrepreneurs keep expansion in mind as they climb the ladder of success?

The Whole Kitchen is the mother company and it was a concept that Oneida had been developing since her daughter was 2. We loved it!

Change is good and growth is natural. It is not easy, but it is important to always strive to grow and expand because if not the business will begin to fizzle and can die. Growth does not necessarily mean just the revenue line, it comes in various places, from impact, knowledge, the service getting better towards the customer, using technology better. There is always room to grow.

We were only able to host one The Whole Kitchen event because COVID hit. We had to hold and that is when our focus shifted in launching Casa Dos Chicas Café as a brand of TWK. Expansion is important, but knowing when to pivot if something is not quite going as planned with what you are doing is vital. Planning ahead and having a vision is imperative. What are some of the cultural traditions you are both bringing to CDCC and excited to share with customers?

We have many things brewing (pun intended)! One of them is bringing back traditional Latin American ways to prepare coffee – of course you will see Mexico and Dominican Republic first. We partnered with Colamo Café, an artist from DR that makes the most beautiful traditional cafeteras. We will have our collaboration for sale soon on our site.
Through our work and offerings, we are highlighting at-home coffee preparation methods and the attentive cultural traditions that our mothers, tias (aunts), and grandmothers taught us when it comes to serving our guests. We are bringing back the moment of simply pausing during the afternoon while having a cup of coffee. The western culture often leaves us tired after a long day with no opportunity to simply sit down and have a conversation along with a cup of coffee.

Click here to read the full article on Girl Talk HQ.

Two Latino pioneers, in civil rights and education, honored with Medal of Freedom
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Raúl Yzaguirre, founder and former leader of the National Council of La Raza, and Julieta García, former president of the University of Texas at Brownsville received the medal of freedom award

By Suzanne Gamboa, NBC News

Two Mexican Americans who have dedicated their lives to fighting for equality and the advancement of Latinos were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, at the White House on Thursday.

Raúl Yzaguirre is the founder and former leader of the National Council of La Raza, considered the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy group, renamed UnidosUS, and Julieta García is a former president of the University of Texas at Brownsville — the first Latina to serve as a U.S. university president.

Born a decade apart in the Rio Grande Valley, Yzaguirre and García took lessons from their upbringings in the South Texas region to achieve positions of power, which they then used to dismantle discrimination and fight for the advancement of Latinos and other people of color.

Yzaguirre, 82, born in San Juan, Texas, took a small organization with about $500,000 and 23 affiliates and grew it into a formidable one with a $40 million budget and 250 affiliates.

The group helped shape policy on immigration, education, voting rights and more. Yzaguirre stepped down in 2004, after 30 years at its helm.

He also served as the ambassador to the Dominican Republic under President Barack Obama.

García, 73, born in Brownsville, Texas, was president of UT-Brownsville and helped oversee its merger with University of Texas Pan American to become UT-Rio Grande Valley, which serves mostly Latinos. She fought for money from the state’s Permanent University Fund, which holds 2.1 million acres and revenue from oil and gas leases on the land, to create the university.

UT-Rio Grande Valley is ranked in the top three schools awarding bachelor’s degrees to Latinos.

Yzaguirre and García are among 17 people awarded the medal Thursday by President Joe Biden. Among the honorees are former Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz.; Olympic gymnast Simone Biles; U.S. soccer player Megan Rapinoe; the actor Denzel Washington; and posthumously, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple.

Yzaguirre’s work with UnidosUS rested heavily on bringing together the nation’s increasingly diverse Latino population to forge a stronger political force that could command the attention of Washington power brokers. The 2020 census counted 62 million Latinos in the U.S.

“What Raúl doesn’t get enough recognition for is how much of a visionary he was,” said Lisa Navarette, who worked with Yzaguirre and now is an adviser to UnidosUS President Janet Murguía.

“In the early ’70s he was already envisioning what would become the Latino community,” Navarrete said.

Yzaguirre was raised by his grandparents and was heavily influenced by his grandfather’s own story of nearly being lynched by Texas Rangers when he was out past a curfew imposed by the state on Mexican Americans and Mexicans at the time, according to a 2016 biography, “Raul H. Yzaguirre: Seated at the Table of Power,” by Stella Pope Duarte.

Yzaguirre was a protégé of the civil rights leader Dr. Hector P. García, a Mexican American physician who formed the civil rights group American GI Forum after witnessing mistreatment of Mexican American World War II veterans. Navarette said García helped Yzaguirre channel his anger over discrimination into activism.

Yzaguirre’s work in Washington continues to have an impact. Charles Kamasaki, a senior adviser at UnidosUS, recalled Yzaguirre deciding to agree to compromise on what became the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. He didn’t like the enforcement levels in the bill and had worked to improve it until finally agreeing to a compromise in 1986, giving about 3 million immigrants without legal status in the U.S. a chance to become lawful permanent residents.

Yzaguirre helped produce a scathing report on the Smithsonian Institution’s failure to serve and hire Latinos, a report that was instrumental in last year’s approval of a National Museum of the American Latino.

His tenure was also marked by clashes with administrations. He quit a commission on education and Hispanics in the 1990s in frustration over its partisanship and delays and picketed President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration over its lack of Hispanics.

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

Latina-Owned Candle Business Captures the Scents of Childhood
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Latina-Owned Candle Business Captures the Scents of Childhood

By Génesis Miranda Miramontes, NBC Los Angeles

Who can forget the smell of a Saturday spent cleaning, as the sound of music blasted in the background: the smell that filled the air and made you get up knowing you would have to grab a broom and help out?

Or perhaps you recall the smell of hot chocolate and pan dulce as you sat around the table hearing your comadre’s latest chisme.

What if you can relive those memories by lighting a candle in your room? While you fold that pile of laundry you’ve been putting off.

Marcella Gomez, a mother, nurse and cancer survivor from Downey is the founder of Oh Comadre Candles, a Latina-owned business that quite literally captures those memories in a candle.

“Oh Comadre Candles celebrate life through a Latina’s eye. The candles are intended to evoke emotion, comfort, memory, or even a laugh,” Gomez said.

Gomez started her business online in 2014 as a form of therapy, and time away from the nursing job she had at the time. It was a way for her to disconnect from the stress of a work day and help distract her, she explains.

In October of 2020, Gomez was diagnosed with breast cancer. She has since received treatment and has been in remission.

She says she would like her story to be an example of the importance of taking care of your health and seeing your doctor.

“Take care of yourself like we take care of others,” Gomez said. “If your best friend told you they found a lump, you would drop everything and help your good friend seek medical attention. Why not do the same for yourself?”

Since starting her business, Gomez has gained over 76,000 followers on Instagram and has recently opened her first storefront in Downey a couple of months ago.

“I have nothing but gratitude for anyone taking the time to walk through our door. It’s an awesome feeling that any small business can relate,” Gomez said. “I couldn’t believe the amount of support the shop recieved. I still can’t believe it. Someone please pinch me.”

Gomez says it was a long process to find the right formula for her candles. Then in 2016 she received her first online order.

“I could not believe someone purchased it from me. I thought it was a joke because the order came on my birthday. Fortunately, it was the first of many orders to come,” Gomez said.

Most Latinos can relate to the scents of Fabuloso, Vaporub, Pan Dulce, Abuelita Hot Chocolate, Horchata, and even Jabon Zote.

These are the scents of childhood and the day to day that bring happiness and can now be enjoyed in your sala.

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

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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. National College Resources Foundation Upcoming Events–Mark Your Calendar!
    September 24, 2022 - April 1, 2023
  4. HACE National Virtual Career Fair
    September 29, 2022
  5. ROMBA Conference
    October 6, 2022 - October 8, 2022
  6. HACU 36th Annual Conference
    October 8, 2022 - October 10, 2022
  7. NMSDC 50th Anniversary Conference & Exchange
    October 30, 2022 - November 2, 2022
  8. The UnidosUS Workforce Development Summit 2022
    November 2, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  9. NBIC Unity Week 2022
    November 15, 2022 - November 18, 2022
  10. UnidosUS – LatinX Health Equity Summit 2022
    December 6, 2022 - December 8, 2022