The history behind Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day

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For some, the second Monday in October is a celebration of Christopher Columbus, the Italian explorer who came to the Americas. For others, it’s an opportunity to critically examine Columbus’s legacy and celebrate the people who lived here long before his arrival as part of Indigenous Peoples Day.

Columbus Day is an observation of the anniversary of the explorer’s arrival on an island in what is now the Bahamas on October 12, 1492. Many Italian Americans honor their heritage on Columbus Day with parades and festivals.

However, in recent years, indigenous people and others have rallied against the holiday, claiming Columbus enslaved and murdered many indigenous people. There is now a growing movement to reclaim the day in honor of indigenous people and their unique cultures and contributions.

Many local governments have voted to rename Columbus Day, and recently, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to make the second Monday in October Indigenous Peoples Day beginning no later than 2019. The city also designated Oct. 12 Italian American Heritage Day.

“This action is about publicly recognizing that America’s ancestors, for centuries, oppressed certain minority groups. This is not about erasing history; I believe the full history and impact of Christopher Columbus should be taught to current and future generations,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis said in a statement. “While we cannot change the past, we can realize the pain that millions suffered throughout our nation’s history, as well as the tremendous achievements of the original inhabitants of our continent.”

Continue onto ABC News to read more about the history of Columbus Day.

Meet Ralphy Lozano, the Veteran Making History as the First Gay Latino Mayor of this Bordertown

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Years before Will and Grace became a groundbreaking hit TV show and even before comedian Ellen DeGeneres came out, Ralphy Lozano was standing up for the LGBTQ community. In popular hangout spots, such as bars and restaurants, around his traditionalist town, the teen and his high school-aged friends gathered and refused to hide their true selves, essentially disrupting the status quo. Now, the 35-year-old Air Force veteran has made history by becoming the first openly gay candidate elected to public office in the South Texas town of Del Rio. The proud first-time candidate received 62 percent of the vote and dethroned incumbent Robert Garza, who served as mayor for four years.

Lozano ran on a platform for change and unification for all in Del Rio. For him, this meant focusing on the issues and values that connects his constituents. “I don’t believe I’m going to get too far if I start going under one identity. I have to think about unifying the city,” Lozano tells me.

He didn’t receive campaign donations from any LGBTQ groups, and he didn’t necessarily seek their support. As a matter or fact, Lozano is about $5,000 in debt after his successful grassroots campaign. But his queerness is an important aspect of his identity. Last year, Lozano marched as part of Del Rio’s Veterans Parade in heels, which garnered national headlines – something that caught him by surprise. He didn’t view his choice as a political statement, but rather something that is part of who he is.

“I’ve always thought that veterans’ parades recently have been so dreary, and I feel like we should be celebrating veterans,” he adds. “Some of us have experienced some really traumatic experiences in war zones and losing friends and suffering from PTSD, but we survived. We survived the worst that humanity has (to offer).”

Continue onto Remezcla to read the complete article.

Dr. Ellen Ochoa: Standing Up for STEAM

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Dr. Ellen Ochoa

By Brady Rhoades

When NASA Hall of Famer Ellen Ochoa encourages young people to reach for the sky, she’s not just using a figure of speech.

It’s literal.

Ochoa became the first Latina astronaut to venture into space when she went up in 1993. She served four tours and 1,000 hours in the cosmos from 1993 to 2002.

“I believe a good education can take you anywhere on Earth and beyond,” she said.

After her trips to outer space, Ochoa served as Johnson Space Center’s director of flight crew operations and deputy director before becoming the head director in 2013. She is the first Latina and second female to lead the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

Ochoa, who is retiring this May after 30 years with NASA, said NASA has done a good job of hiring Latinas and other minorities, but more can be done to urge minorities into STEAM fields.

“I plan to continue after retirement to encourage kids and adults—and especially women and minorities who are under-represented in STEM/STEAM fields—to reach for the stars!” she said.

Even as she was making history as the second woman and first Dr. Ellen Ochoa on Flight deckLatina in space, Ochoa’s focus was laser-sharp, her goals stratospheric.

She has a message for Hispanics, especially those held back by poverty and prejudice: STEAM is freeing.

“There are a lot of interesting and exciting careers when you study math and science and related technology fields,” she said. “For me, the key was really my education, so I tell people that it’s important to study and continue to take science and math classes throughout high school. I tell them to graduate from high school and go on to college. That will really give you a lot of options. I realize that a lot of the students I speak to may not end up as an astronaut or may not be completely interested in those fields, but I want them to at least make sure that they have options in their careers and that they think about setting high goals for themselves. People who become astronauts are very similar to a lot of these kids. They put in a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication and they set high goals for themselves. That’s something that anybody can apply.”

Ochoa, married to Coe Miles and mother to two sons, was born in 1958 and raised in La Mesa, California. Her grandparents on her father’s side were Mexican.

Ochoa, a flautist who considered majoring in music, earned her bachelor’s degree in physics at San Diego State University in 1980, a Master of Science degree from Stanford University in 1981 and her doctorate in electrical engineering from the same university in 1985.

In 1983, Sally Ride became the first woman in space. That sparked a new passion for Ochoa, and she applied to NASA’s astronaut program. She tried three times before being accepted and worked at Sandia National Laboratories and the NASA Ames Research Center. In 1990, Ochoa was accepted into the astronaut program.

Aboard the space shuttle Discovery in April 1993, Ochoa became the first Latina in space.

AstronautsThe nine-day mission was sent to study the effect of solar activity on the Earth’s climate and environment. Ochoa served as a mission specialist and used the robotic arm to deploy and capture the SPARTAN-201 satellite, which studied the solar corona.

She went on to serve as the payload commander aboard the space shuttle Atlantis in 1994, a 10-day mission to further study the sun’s energy output and the Earth’s atmosphere. She also served as the flight engineer and mission specialist in the 1999 and 2002 missions to the International Space Station.

After retiring from flying, she took to her directorial role at Johnson right away.

“Leadership provides the ability to influence the things you care about most,” she said.

And what does she care about?

“I care deeply about NASA’s mission and its value to our nation—expanding scientific knowledge, engaging globally, providing both economic benefits and technology transfer applied to issues on Earth, and especially serving as a source of inspiration and pride,” she said.

Retirement is just a word. Ochoa’s work continues. She’s vested in the next generation of women and Hispanics.

Her message?

“Go for it!” she said. “There are many interesting, challenging, and rewarding careers associated with STEAM. Often, you have the opportunity to work as part of a team, solving problems and fostering new discoveries. As the tag line for the International Space Station says, we are working ‘off the Earth, for the Earth.’

“As a center director, ‘accomplish the mission’ is expanded to mean not only today’s mission but also tomorrow’s mission, ensuring that we have the appropriate workforce, facilities, and processes to lead human exploration well into the future. Taking care of our people has many aspects—recruiting a diverse group of people, ensuring they have career development and training opportunities, and focusing on an atmosphere of respect for each other where people feel valued.”

Ochoa has earned many awards and honors, including NASA’s highest award, the Distinguished Service Medal. She has also received the Presidential Distinguished Rank Award, the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, and the Women in Aerospace Outstanding Achievement Award.

Ochoa won the 1995 Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award and was Spaceship Tunnelthe Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Corporation Engineer of the Year in 2008. She has six schools named after her.

She was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame in May 2017.

“I’m honored to be recognized among generations of astronauts who were at the forefront of exploring our universe for the benefit of humankind,” Ochoa said at the time.

Ochoa is a double pioneer: She’s one of an elite number of people who’ve meandered among the stars, and she broke ground for Hispanics while doing it.

She said she always looked at her heritage as a positive.

“It has added a whole dimension, I think, to my job,” she said. “When I originally applied to be an astronaut, I wasn’t really thinking about the whole sort of role model aspect of it. I was doing it because I was fascinated by space. I was studying to be a research engineer and realized you could do a lot of unique and interesting experiments in space. And so it was really wanting to be part of America’s space program and being able to apply my research.”

Along the way, she saw firsthand how important inclusiveness is—to a profession, to society. It makes sense to draw from a broad talent pool of Hispanics, African Americans, Asian Americans, Caucasians, females, males, you name it.

She started off working in STEM, for instance, and that’s evolved into STEAM, to include the arts. Bringing many unique perspectives to the table—be it with regard to culture, ethnicity and thought (let’s bring some artists onboard!)—is almost always a successful methodology, in her experience.

“We’d like to have all kinds of minds involved in our challenges, as well as in telling our story,” she said.

WWII Navajo Code Talker Roy Hawthorne Sr. dies in Arizona at 92

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Navajo Code Talker Roy Hawthorne, who used his native language as an uncrackable code during World War II, died Saturday.

At 92, he was one of the last surviving Code Talkers.

Hawthorne was 17 when he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and became part of a famed group of Native Americans who encoded hundreds of messages in the Navajo language to keep them safe from the Japanese. Hawthorne served in the 1st Marine Division in the Pacific Theatre and was promoted to corporal.

The code was never broken.

“The longer we live, the more we realize the importance of what we did, but we’re still not heroes — not in my mind,” Roy Hawthorne said in 2015.

But Hawthorne’s son, Regan Hawthorne, said Monday his father leaves a proud legacy.

“They went in out of a sense of duty and a spirit of responsibility to their country,” Regan Hawthorne said, adding he didn’t know about his father’s military service until he was in his 20s.

“I grew up not knowing my dad was a Code Talker. He never talked about it, didn’t see the need to talk about it,” he said.

The Code Talkers believed they were just doing their job, he said, and shied away from receiving accolades for their service.

“When we read about the effect the Navajo Code had on shortening the war because of its effectiveness, we think about the guys who did that,” Regan Hawthorne said. “(But) they’re simply humble men who performed what they sensed to be a duty to protect all they cherished.”

He said his father and other Code Talkers returned home from the war and “simply came back to work and went back to making a life.”

As of 2016, there were about a dozen Code Talkers still living. The exact number of Code Talkers is unknown because their work was classified for years after the war ended.

Continue onto AZ Central to read the complete article.

Retiring this year, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, first Latina in Congress, defies stereotypes

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As she exits Congress, Ros-Lehtinen goes out as a Latina who has stayed close to her community while keeping herself from being pigeonholed.

In biographies and profiles, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., is often followed by, “the first Latina” or “the first Cuban American” in Congress.

Ros-Lehtinen has always embraced the descriptions tagged to her name, but as she exits Congress, she goes out as a Latina who has stayed close to her community while keeping herself from being pigeonholed.

“She’s really an icon in the community for a number of reasons,” said Eduardo Gamarra, director of the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University. “Not only is she a Republican congresswoman, but she’s been able to transcend the rigors of just being (known as) a Cuban American woman.”

In an interview Tuesday, she tried to answer the questions of an NBC News reporter while also being the doting grandmother, dressing up a Latina Barbie on her granddaughter’s electronic device while they waited for the Natural History Museum to open.

Actor Richard Gere and the television personality and Olympic medalist Caitlyn Jenner were to be in Washington Wednesday for the annual Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute’s annual gala. But the star of the event is Ros-Lehtinen.

The institute is recognizing her with its Leadership in Public Service Award and Leadership in International Relations Award. The institute is renaming the latter award The CHLI Ileana Ros-Lehtinen International Leadership Award.

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

Sphinx Organization Secures Exclusive Corporate Support of All-Black and –Latino Orchestra

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Mercedes-Benz Financial Services to present the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra in 2018

Detroit – Mercedes-Benz Financial Services has enhanced its long-standing partnership with the Sphinx Organization, a national nonprofit dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts, as the presenting sponsor of the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra for the 2018 season. This new support of the symphony complements Mercedes-Benz Financial Services’ long-standing sponsorship of the Sphinx Competition Audience Choice Award.

“We are thrilled to expand our existing partnership with Mercedes-Benz Financial Services,” stated Afa Dworkin, president and artistic director of the Sphinx Organization. “Their continuing support allows us to highlight the importance of inclusion in the field of classical music, both in our communities and the around the globe.”

The Sphinx Symphony Orchestra is the world’s first orchestra comprised of America’s top Black and Latino classical musicians. The ensemble includes past and present members of nearly a dozen of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious orchestras, as well as faculty members of leading music institutions in the country. Some of the organizations represented include:

  • Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
  • Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
  • Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
  • The Cleveland Orchestra
  • Detroit Symphony Orchestra
  • Los Angeles Philharmonic
  • Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
  • New York Philharmonic
  • Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera House
  • Louis Symphony Orchestra
  • Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra

In addition to performing, the musicians of this ensemble fulfill a unique role. The orchestra members serve as mentors to young musicians and teachers through master classes and lectures. Plus, the group promotes works by Black and Latino composers.

“At Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, we aim to provide rewarding, life-changing opportunities in the communities where we live and work,” said Mary Beth Halprin, director of Corporate Communications for Mercedes-Benz Financial Services.

“In the 14 years we’ve been partners, the Sphinx Organization has impacted thousands of individuals across the nation. We are pleased to be able to continue to grow that impact globally through our sponsorship of the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra.”

Mercedes-Benz Financial Services has been a supporter of Sphinx and its mission since 2004 – previously providing support for Education and Access, Artist Development and Performing Artists programs. The company’s philanthropic efforts are rooted in long-term partnerships with organizations committed to creating positive social change in four focus areas: Education; Community Enhancement; Arts & Culture; and Diversity & Inclusion.

The 21st Annual Sphinx Competition, presented by DTE Energy Foundation and hosted by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, will be held from Jan. 31 to Feb. 4, 2018 at the Max M. Fisher Music Center. Details related to acquiring tickets to attend the Finals Concert on Sunday, Feb. 4, may be found at www.DSO.org.

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About the Sphinx Organization

The Sphinx Organization is a Detroit-based, national organization dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. Sphinx programs reach more than 100,000 students, as well as live and broadcast audiences of more than two million annually. Sphinx works to create positive change in the arts field and in communities across the country through a variety of programs organized into four main principles: Education and Access, Artist Development, Performing Artists and Arts Leadership. Read more about Sphinx’s programs at www.SphinxMusic.org.

About Mercedes-Benz Financial Services USA LLC

Mercedes‐Benz Financial Services USA LLC, headquartered in Farmington Hills, Michigan, with Business Center Operations in Fort Worth, Texas, provides brand‐specific financial products and services for Mercedes‐Benz and smart automotive dealers and their retail customers. In the U.S. trucking industry, it conducts business as Daimler Truck Financial and provides flexible financial products and services for Daimler Trucks North America commercial vehicles branded Freightliner, Western Star, Thomas Built Bus and Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America, Inc.

Mercedes‐Benz Financial Services USA LLC serves as the headquarters for operations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, and has approximately 2,242 employees throughout the Americas. It is a company of the Daimler Financial Services Group, headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, which does business in 40 countries and has an employee base of approximately 12,062 people worldwide. Daimler Financial Services is one of the leading financial services organizations worldwide and was ranked fifth out of 25 on the list of the World’s Best Multinational Workplaces by the Great Place To Work Institute in 2016. Mercedes-Benz Financial Services USA LLC was also named one of the 100 Best Workplaces for Millennials in 2015 and 2016, and one of the 100 Best Workplaces for Women in 2016 by Great Place to Work and Fortune.com. For more information, please visit www.mbfs.com/corp or www.facebook.com/mymbfs. For more information about Daimler Truck Financial, log onto www.daimler-truckfinancial.com.

In a fight for much-needed green spaces, these Latino advocates bring a winning formula

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Viviana Franco attended high school in an affluent Southern California neighborhood that had tree-lined streets, walking trails and parks.

When she went home at the end of the day, she was greeted by a starkly different neighborhood that had liquor stores, broken sidewalks, potholed streets and no green spaces.

Franco grew up in Hawthorne, California, a city in Los Angeles County that was transformed by the construction of Interstate 105, an east-west highway that runs between Los Angeles International Airport and the city of Norwalk. The project left a number of vacant lots along the freeway, including one on the corner of 118th and Doty where Franco and her friends would play baseball and tag.

The lot was 13,000 square feet and was consistently littered with debris such as old couches, used condoms and syringes, Franco recalled, making it unsuitable for kids to play on.

“But we did,” she said. “We had no other choice.”

It was Franco’s experience with that particular vacant lot to which she credits as the catalyst for a non-profit she established in 2007 called From Lot to Spot (FLTS), which is dedicated to developing green spaces in low-income communities.

Since its inception, FLTS has opened and organized four parks, including Bicentennial Park, as well as five community gardens, one bicycle trail and one large urban tree canopy in the greater Los Angeles area.

“In these neighborhoods we have so many of these vacant lots that no one takes care of, nobody takes accountability for, so we have no parks,” she said.

Noticing all the neglected spaces in her community, Franco asked: “Why don’t we make a park here?”

Franco is among Latino advocates across the United States fighting to increase parks and enhance accessibility to green and open spaces for Hispanic communities, which struggle to access these spaces that are available in many other neighborhoods, according to a 2015 report by Hispanic Federation.

In Los Angeles County, where Franco’s organization is based, the disparity in park space is significant. According to a 2016 report from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the city of Malibu has 55.5 acres of park space per 1,000 residents, versus 0.7 acres in East Los Angeles. The racial makeup in both areas is also significantly different: in Malibu, about 93 percent of the population is white, while East Los Angeles is approximately 97 percent Latino, according to U.S. Census estimates.

Green spaces and parks have been linked to a multitude of positive outcomes including better health, less stress and stronger communities. But in neighborhoods where these places aren’t available or easily accessible, residents aren’t able to enjoy these benefits.

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s great idea for teaching civics to English-language learners

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The U.S. has an estimated 4.6 million English Language Learning (ELL) students, of which 3.4 million are Spanish speaking. According to iCivics, an education non-profit, students tend to struggle more with social studies and civics because the academic language used is difficult, and teachers have limited training and resources to help them.

Enter Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

The nation’s first Latina Supreme Court Justice, who sits on iCivics’ board, envisioned making a game available in Spanish that teaches U.S. civics in a more approachable and engaging way.

The result is ¿Tengo Algún Derecho?, a Spanish-language translation of “Do I Have a Right?”, which was first released in 2011. The game teaches the fundamentals of American civics and how U.S. democracy works by familiarizing students with American civil liberties. It challenges players to run their own law firms that take pro-bono cases in which clients’ constitutional rights maybe have been violated.

“Do I have a Right?” was first released in 2011. Since then, the game, which is free of charge, has been played nearly 9 million times.

“Supporting students is a cause very near to my heart,” said Justice Sotomayor. “We need all young people engaged in the future of our democracy. Initiatives such as this one mark an important step towards ensuring that, no matter what language they speak, all young people have access to the knowledge and skills they need to fully participate in those important conversations.”

Studies have found a link between an American’s knowledge of U.S. civics and their participation in the voting process, regardless of party affiliation.

“Young people who recalled experiencing more high-quality civic education practices in schools were more likely to vote, to form political opinions, to know campaign issues, and to know general facts about the US political system,” said Peter Levine, director of the Center for Information and Research on Civil Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE), about a study released in 2013. “Civics education was not related to partisanship or choice of candidate. These results should allay political concerns about civic education being taught in schools.”

Kristen Chapron, the project lead for iCivics’ new release, said that what makes their game so effective is that it’s experiential learning. Each game is about a half-hour, and students can pick what type of avatar they want to be. “Rather than sitting in a classroom and listening to someone talk, or reading a textbook, the students get to be the lawyer. You have control of the game and you remember it more,” said Chapron.

Having Justice Sotomayor working on this project, said iCivics executive director Louise Dube, has made a big difference. “I think it is her mission in life to be an inspiration to her community, and to kids in particular,” said Dube. “For someone who has come from such humble origins and has achieved so much, it is transparent to the kids and they really identify with her.”

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez to Run for Texas Governor

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Texas’ first Hispanic female sheriff says she will run against Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in 2018

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez announced Wednesday morning she will run as a Democratic candidate for governor of Texas.

“I’m stepping up, for Texas, for everyone’s fair shot to get ahead. I’m in,” Valdez proclaimed in a news conference in Austin. “My name is Lupe Valdez. I’m a proud Texas Democrat and I believe in common sense government, that’s why I’m running for Texas Governor. I’ve dedicated my life to defending Texas and I’m not done yet.”

The announcement comes after media reports and speculation last week that she would file as a candidate in the Democratic primary.

Valdez signed the official paperwork before taking the podium at the Texas Democratic Party headquarters in Austin.

“We’re here to make people’s lives better, not hurt them,” Valdez said during a news conference announcing her candidacy Wednesday. “Opportunity in Texas ought to be as big as this great state, but for far too long hard working Texans have been left behind, kept out, and frankly attacked for who they are, where they come from and who they love. Texas and businesses are begging for a return of common sense, smart investments and just plain sanity.”

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

NGLCC Renamed “National LGBT Chamber of Commerce”, Reaffirms Mission as Business Voice of the LGBT Community

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The business voice of the LGBT community, formerly known as the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, has announced that the organization will formally shorten its name to its acronym “NGLCC” and be known as the, “National LGBT Chamber of Commerce.”This change, which is accompanied by an organizational visual rebranding, moves to better include the bisexual and transgender members of the LGBT business community for which NGLCC has fiercely advocated over the past 15 years.

As NGLCC marked its fifteenth anniversary at its 2017 National Dinner awards gala on Friday, November 17, NGLCC co-founders Justin Nelson and Chance Mitchell were joined on stage by transgender business leaders as they reiterated the organization’s pledge to advancing economic opportunities for all members of the LGBT community.

“The LGBT business community is stronger than ever and our organization must continue to evolve to be the best champion we can be for our businesses. That starts with ensuring every element of our brand demonstrates our commitment to all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender entrepreneurs, as our new moniker of ‘NGLCC: The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce’ shows,” said NGLCC Co-Founder & President Justin Nelson. “As we continue to assert our community’s presence and importance in the American and global economies, it is essential that NGLCC lead boldly with a vision for the future of LGBT business that is not only inclusive of all members the LGBT community but also celebrates diversity in all of its forms.”

Under its new name, NGLCC will continue to advance the interests of LGBT business owners, which now number at an estimated 1.4 million in the United States and boast a combined estimated economic impact of over $1.7 trillion, per NGLCC’s groundbreaking America’s LGBT Economy report.  Additionally, the NGLCC Global program will continue expanding the important connection between LGBTI human rights and economic opportunity around the world.

“In the fifteen years NGLCC has been increasing opportunities by certifying and networking LGBT business owners we have witnessed countless shifts toward greater inclusion and recognition of the diversity that makes our community so dynamic and vital.  While our name may change, our mission remains constant: ensuring economic opportunity and prosperity for the LGBT business community in the United States, and around the world,” said NGLCC Co-Founder & CEO Chance Mitchell.

NGLCC expects to see support for the LGBT business community continue to grow, particularly with the recent inclusion of LGBT-owned businesses as an application criterion for the Billion Dollar Roundtable and to a company’s survey on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index. NGLCC recently certified its 1000th LGBTBE and plans to double that number by 2020.

Read more here

November is Native American Heritage Month

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It’s time we all show up for Native American communities.

During Native American Heritage month, we at the American Indian College Fund want to shed light on our one unwavering purpose – increasing the number of American Indians who hold college degrees. Currently only 13.8% of American Indians have a bachelor’s degree – less than half the national average. Every year, we empower more than 4,000 American Indian students to start and stay in school, complete their degrees and launch careers that benefit us all. Over 27 years, we have provided more than 119,000 scholarships and almost $170 million to support American Indian students’ higher education ambitions.

We also want to acknowledge the common goal we share: never forgetting the importance of preserving our collective history, culture and languages. In the United States today, we each have a unique sense of identity living in communities that are immersed in many cultures, creating positive, productive communities we all enjoy!

But, like many other populations, when Native American communities are not acknowledged, the impact is tremendous. To not be seen or acknowledged reinforces the misperceptions that we are figures of the past instead of thriving and active members of today’s communities. And it hinders our students’ ability to succeed. In spite of that, the American Indian College Fund has amazing scholars who are breaking down barriers within Native communities, and across non-Native communities, all of which makes a noteworthy impact on our country.

We all live in the modern world, with all the modern problems that go along with it. And, like you, our Native scholars want to effect change, contribute and thrive by integrating modern and traditional knowledge. And the way to achieve this is through education.

Let’s shine a light on all the reasons EDUCATION IS THE ANSWER and acknowledge Native American communities exist as a vibrant and positive part of our country and our world. Visit www.standwithnativestudents.org and https://www.thepetitionsite.com/526/196/391/lets-showup4nativecommunities/ to learn more.