“This has never been done before,” said Esperanza Founder and President Emeritus, Luis Martínez. He describes Esperanza as a labor of love, and a commitment to provide Cleveland Latinos an opportunity to better educational services.
“There is a sea of desperation in our community when it comes to education, and Esperanza is a little raft keeping hope afloat,” he said.
Martínez said the challenge now is to get the Latino community to invest in Esperanza and unite to overcome the challenges. He said the city’s Latino population is predominantly under the age of 25 and had tremendous potential that needs to be cultivated so they can become leaders and give back to the community.
“This is a dream come true for a disabled veteran,” said Martínez, who is the recipient of two Purple Hearts.
Martínez emphasized the demand is greater than the resources available and credited Esperanza’s Chief Executive Officer Barbara Esperón for addressing the social, psychological, economical, and cultural barriers that plague the community.
“We literally serve over 1,000 students annually via our computer training program, ESL classes, during in-school tutoring programs, after-school programs, scholarships, and referral services,” Esperón said.
The Endowment Fund will help the organization sustain its current programs, expand services, and award more scholarships in the future. “Our goal is to raise $1.25 million dollars in three years,” said Martínez. The fundraising effort will be known as Campaign 25 and funds will be managed by The Cleveland Foundation.
Caprice Bragg, Vice President for Gift Planning and Donor Relations, said the Foundation was honored to become partners with Esperanza and applauded the organization’s passion and commitment. She said the partnership has been 25 years in the making and the Foundation is eager to share its resources, “We take this role very seriously and are truly honored,” Bragg said.
Esperón said the Endowment Fund indicates Esperanza’s boosts the community’s confidence that their funds are secure. However, the current economic slump has dwindled individual and corporate pledges but the non-profit is marching forward, “Our most important strategic goals are to find new revenue streams and partnerships and diversify our current revenue streams. More importantly, like most non-profits today, our number one objective is to weather the economic storm we are all facing intact and to continue to be of service to our community,” said Esperón.