Our mission is to educate and empower future latino leaders. To provide them with the confidence, support, and skills necessary so they can take an active role in their community’s development.
Mi Familia Vota (MFV) Education Fund’s Youth Leadership and Civic Engagement Program is a 9-month program designed to prepare and emerge the young Latino electorate (17-24-year-old) as agents of change through continuous civic engagement opportunities. The program will be implemented in Houston, Texas. The program will be implemented in partnership with School Districts and Higher Learning Institutions, for example in Houston, partners include Rice University’s Center for Civic Engagement, the University of Houston-Downtown and Houston ISD.
Students will meet for a five-day leadership summit at Rice University where they will have the opportunity to meet with experts in immigration, education, civil rights, and public policy.
Additionally, Fellows will meet twice a month to learn about policy processes and how they can directly impact their community’s issues.
The topics of the leadership program are designed to reflect the self-interest of young Latinos and to provide them with a better understanding of the connection between self-interest, civic engagement, and social change. Topics include: 1. What is leadership, and what is the youth agenda? 2. Right to vote in the US- Past and Present Struggles; 3. Being the voice of the voiceless- immigration, voting, and citizenship; 4. Levels of government and the laws that affect us; 5. Past and present youth social movements.
A crucial and unique component of the program is the access that Mi Familia Vota Education Fund provides to real campaigns and actions that address issues that are affecting our community. Non-mandatory aspects of the program include the opportunity to call, write, and/or meet an elected official for a discussion about an item of the youth political agenda not as advocacy, but as a skill and developmental knowledge activity. Additionally, students will be provided with opportunities to attend Congressional town hall meetings, elected bodies meetings (City Council, School board, etc.), debate watch parties, press conferences, rallies, marches, and other civic engagement actions. Fellows will eventually learn to organize and lead events in their schools and communities. Events organized by Fellows in the past have included voter registration drives, Know Your Rights presentations, and Mayoral Debate town hall meeting.
Vision and Purpose
Widespread civic engagement is the lifeblood of any well-functioning democratic society. Unfortunately, many groups are not equally involved in public life. According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Engagement, Latino youth are the least engaged and most civically alienated ethnic and racial group in the United States. Two out of every five Latino youth do not feel connected to civic life. This is especially troubling in a city like Houston where Latinos are the single largest ethnic group. We seek to promote awareness of the issues facing local Latinos while at the same time encouraging electoral participation to ensure their voice is heard at all levels of government.
The Emerging Latino Leaders Fellowship envisions a future where Latino youth take ownership of their community. First, we must challenge talented young Latinos to see themselves as more then just passive community members, but active agents of change. By empowering the youth of today, we can work towards building a healthy and vibrant society for tomorrow.
The Emerging Latino Leaders (ELL) Fellowship was created in the Spring of 2015 through a collaboration between Rice University’s Center for Civic Leadership and Mi Familia Vota—a non-profit, non-partisan, national organization dedicated to increasing Latino civic engagement. Currently, we operate with support of from the Juntos Podemos Foundation and have been selected as the subject for a Master’s Thesis at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government.