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Latinitas Opens Innovation Center for Youth

posted October 16, 2018 | in Technology by Christine Bolaños

After 16 years of helping connect girls of color to technology and media, the Austin-based nonprofit Latinitas moved to the next chapter by unveiling its new 2,400-square-foot headquarters at Springdale General development. It joins an East Austin center quickly growing into a hub for creative and nonprofit organizations.

“This space speaks to what we had dreamed and imagined but never really could have known that this would be our destination,” said co-founder and CEO Laura Donnelly.  “There are hundreds of people that have stood with us, thousands of volunteers, an energized staff, a loving board. We don’t do this alone.” 

From left, Latinitas CEO and founder Laura Donnelly, Daniel Lucio of Google Fiber, Jose Velasquez of Austin ISD, and Austin ISD Trustee Cindy Anderson at the Innovation Center unveiling on Friday. Photo by Emma Drumright.

She and Alicia Rascon founded the organization to provide resources and support lacking for Latinas, in order to prepare them for the future workforce, particularly in the areas of media and technology.  Latinitas seeks to empower young women and encourage them to innovate in these areas.

The organization’s roots started at the University of Texas at Austin and have since expanded to chapters and programs in El Paso, McAllen, San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, Texas, and, Las Cruces, New Mexico, and soon, the San Francisco Bay area.

Angelica Monrreal, high school sophomore and Latinitas program alumni and current volunteer, gives a presentation during the Latinitas Open House last week. Photo by Emma Drumright.

Latinitas’ move to Springdale General’s Center for Social Innovation provides increased office space for a staff which has tripled since 2017 and an area for Latinitas’ first coding school sponsored by the KLE Foundation, Studio Latinitas – a 360 filmmaking and virtual reality production space – and the re-launch of Latinitas magazine’s teen reporter program.

Austin school district board member Cindy Anderson says Latinitas has created a pipeline of young women leaders for local tech companies and other opportunities.

“Latinitas teaches young women critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration and other marketable skills that are transferrable to any career and life opportunity they aspire to,” Anderson said.

She said the school district and Latinitas share the common mission of preparing students for educational opportunities that inspire them.

“Moving into this space will enable Latinitas to continue to evolve and expand,” Anderson said. “I can’t wait to come back to visit and see what students are creating in this new space.”

Latinitas board member TC Waugh gives a presentation during the Open House. Photo by Yoselin Rodriguez.

The move to the new space was made possible by a $13,500 grant from the City of Austin’s pilot Art Space Assistance program.

“The caliber of partner support Latinitas has in Oracle, Google Fiber, eBay and more, speaks volumes to the success of their work. I am very proud to be a personal supporter as well,” Anderson said.

Latinitas also unveiled its new donor-benefit program called the Latinitas Empowerment Circle to build up a more diversified revenue stream and provide donors with a sense of community and appreciation for their giving.

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