National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed each year from September 15 to October 15. During this time, we celebrate the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, the Caribbean, and the Americas. The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson. In 1988, under President Ronald Reagan, it was expanded to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15.
The date of September 15 is significant as it marks the anniversary of independence for the Latin American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico, Chile, and Belize celebrate their independence days on September 16, September 18, and September 21, respectively.
Hispanic Heritage Month also celebrates the long and increasing presence of Hispanic and Latino Americans in North America. According to the Pew Research Center, the nation’s Latino population has increased nearly ninefold, from 6.3 million in 1960 to 55.4 million in 2014 (17.4 percent of the U.S. population). This growing population will have ramifications across our society, this year and in the years to come.
Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP) is an organization that invests in Latino leaders and communities to build a more prosperous and vibrant America and Latin America. HIP has teamed with the Council on Foundations as well as other organizations to address the most pressing issues facing the Hispanic community. Earlier this year, HIP President Diana Campoamor and Council on Foundations President and CEO Vikki Spruill co-authored an op-ed on philanthropy and inclusivity. The op-ed focused on the diversity within the talent pool of the philanthropic sector. More recently, HIP has taken on the issue of immigration, which has become a dominant theme of the upcoming presidential election. Diana Campoamor recently stated that in 2016, a record 27.3 million Latinos will be eligible to vote and that these votes could, in theory, be a game-changer in the 2016 presidential election.
In 2012, 11.2 million Hispanics voted, but that only represented 48 percent of eligible population of voters. According to Ms. Campoamor, “there are various reasons Latinos haven’t come out to vote in the past, including language barriers, delayed citizenship applications, lack of knowledge of the political process, and apathy, often driven by a sense that candidates don’t understand or care about the issues that affect Latinos. Hispanics in Philanthropy is doing its part to ensure that the voice and concerns of the Hispanic community are heard during the 2016 election process." The organization has launched a campaign called Latinos Give Their Vote. The campaign, which coincides with National Hispanic Heritage Month, is aimed at nonprofits that are working to get out the Latino vote. In addition to launching the campaign, Hispanics in Philanthropy is partnering with several national organizations also focused on amplifying the voice of the Hispanic community during the upcoming election. These include Hispanic Federation,Latino Victory Project, LCLAA,Mi Familia Vota, NCLR,Nonprofit Vote, Unidos, and Voto Latino.
The upcoming election is but one of the many important events in which the Hispanic community will have a voice. As the population increases and its influence in our society becomes greater, it is our sector’s collective responsibility to ensure that our efforts reach the many communities within our nation. During National Hispanic Heritage Month, the Council salutes the many organizations which are supporting and helping to advance the interests of our nation’s Hispanic community.