FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 10, 2016. Philadelphia, PA. – The Urban Institute announced an initiative that brings together 24 of the nation’s leading experts, advocates, and academics from across the country for the US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty, funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Rev. Luis Cortes, Jr., Founder, President and CEO of Esperanza, Inc., a national community-based organization in North Philadelphia, has been chosen as one of these partners.
For 30 years, Founder, President and CEO of Esperanza, the Reverend Luis Cortes, Jr. has been working to empower impoverished people in the North Philadelphia Latino community of Hunting Park. Under his leadership, Esperanza has grown from the basement of a church on Tasker and Hancock to 350,000 sq. ft. on an eight and a half acre campus which is home to the city’s most successful welfare to work program; offices for immigration legal services, housing counseling, and economic development; the nationally-ranked Esperanza Academy Charter School; Pennsylvania’s first Hispanic Serving Institution, Esperanza College of Eastern University; and, AMLA’s Latin School of Performing Arts.
Even with all of this success, there is much work to be done. The Hunting Park neighborhood is located in Pennsylvania’s poorest congressional district. Furthermore, among the nation’s ten largest cities, Philadelphia has the highest rate of deep poverty at 12.9%.
“We anticipate this project to be a great benefit to Philadelphia as we search for ways to improve social mobility for the ‘least of these,’” said Rev. Cortes, “It’s been my life’s work to leverage resources to fight both social and economic injustice. I am honored to be included in a group of such prestigious national leaders in the fight against poverty. Ultimately, my hope is that this important partnership can lead to positive outcomes for a nation so separated by extreme wealth and debilitating poverty.” He continued, “I am grateful to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as the Urban Institute in their efforts to explore options to change the fate of so many Americans trapped in the never-ending cycle of poverty.”
The partnership will uncover the country’s most successful programs, collaborate with outside innovative organizations to test promising new models, and identify new approaches to improving social mobility in America. Drawing from research and evidence, the partnership will meet for the first time this spring to define a set of priority issues and questions to guide its work.
Esperanza, Inc., is a national community-based organization founded in 1987 by Rev. Luis Cortes & the Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia & Vicinity with the biblical mandate to serve and advocate for “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40) in mind. What began as a local initiative, with programs targeted to address the unmet needs of North Philadelphia’s Hispanic community, Rev. Cortes is now sought by national and international leaders alike on issues of economic and workforce development, housing, immigration, and education. Under his leadership, Esperanza has grown from a small 20 person operation to more than 350 employees and a $35 million organization. For more information, please visit www.esperanza.us.
Rev. Cortes is available for comment on this news. For media inquiries, please contact Esperanza’s Media & Marketing Associate Pilar Padilla at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-324-0746 ext. 218.