The Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia envisioned that Esperanza would create the conditions for success for those willing to participate in changing their destinies. 

Woven throughout Esperanza’s suite of programs and services is a belief that while  transitioning poverty to opportunity relies on ramps that are both in and of the neighborhoods they serve; the spark of lasting change ultimately begins within people and our ability to reinforce alternate narratives, such as the hope and belief in the possibility of an improved life. This critical personal asset of self-efficacy underlies Esperanza’s theory of change.

In the words of Esperanza founder and CEO Reverend Luis Cortés, “a person has to believe they have a chance to take a chance.” Opportunity communities contain alternate narratives of hope that increase the likelihood of residents developing self-confidence.

All of Esperanza’s institutions and programs approach students, clients, and community members with the aim of encouraging hope, cultivating personal responsibility, exercising voice, strengthening influence, and delivering transformative experiences.


We envision geographies of poverty being transformed by hope into communities of opportunity. Opportunity communities are places where people want to live.

They are characterized by increasing prosperity, decent and affordable housing, growing businesses, great schools, safe streets, creative spaces and robust community life. For more than thirty years we have been working out that vision in North Philadelphia, and we believe that what we are about to achieve in our neighborhood is a model for national replication.

As one of the nation’s largest Hispanic, faith-based nonprofit organizations, Esperanza is a catalyst for local, regional, and national change. Addressing the root causes of systemic poverty, Esperanza invests in institutions that serve as the building blocks for opportunity. These institutions ensure local economies of affordability that make place indispensable. Esperanza’s more than 450 dedicated employees follow a comprehensive ecosystem approach to programming that delivers transformative experiences through affordable housing, charter schools, economic and corridor development, housing counseling, immigration legal services, a school of music, workforce development, youth leader training, and a fully-accredited university branch campus.


We have been creating an opportunity community for 30 years, and we believe we are close to finalizing a model with the potential for replication in poor communities.

“I’ve enjoyed seeing Esperanza grow as an organization and have greater impact each and every year in the life of the city.” The Honorable Tom Ridge - First US Secretary of Homeland Security & Former Governor of Pennsylvania


Housing Counseling

Since our founding in 1987, we have provided housing counseling services because stable housing is a key part of community transformation. In 2008, we became a certified national intermediary by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as one of only three Hispanic agencies nationwide to support housing counseling organizations from other cities through sub-grants, training, and technical assistance.


Esperanza Housing and Economic Development

Our shared vision for Hunting Park is for a community where people want to live and raise their families, where businesses desire to locate, and where customers come to find a variety of retail offerings. Three core strategies support these efforts: economic development, community education, and real estate development.


Workforce Development

A key part of our mission is to help families achieve economic self-sufficiency, which is challenging where 26% of the local population is unemployed. Our Pennsylvania CareerLink ® Center helps Philadelphia residents explore career options, learn about job openings, access job training programs, and understand career trends to prepare them to thrive as members of the workforce


Esperanza Academy Charter Schools (EACS)

EACS, which started in a converted warehouse in 2000, has grown into a multi-school campus and one of the best neighborhood schools in Philadelphia. Middle and high school enrollments compose a st


Esperanza College of Eastern University (ECEU)

ECEU is a branch campus of Eastern University and the only Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Esperanza College was recognized for excellence in Hispanic higher education as Education Champion of the Year (Hispanic Choice Awards, 2010), as an Example of Excelencia (Excelencia in Education, 2013).


Political Advocacy and Civic Engagement

The local grassroots work is closely related to the regional and national work advocating for passage of comprehensive immigration reform, which is an institutional priority. We also host the biennial National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC. Past speakers have included George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Mike Pence, Hillary Clinton, Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, Ben Carson, and Chuck Schumer. Esperanza’s other activities include advocating for religious freedom for minority congregations, matters relating to children and families, and the promotion of charter school education.


National Programs

Over the past 15 years, Esperanza has worked to strengthen nearly 500 Latino faith and community groups around the country through the delivery of training, technical assistance, and management of sub-awards. As a national intermediary, Esperanza has received and successfully managed more than $48 million in government and corporate grants for a variety of purposes, including mentoring at-risk/incarcerated youth, leadership training, and health promotion.


Music Education

Since 2006, Artístas y Músicos Latino Americanos (AMLA) has annually educated hundreds of our neighborhood’s youth. In addition to instrumental learning, AMLA also teaches Latino cultural heritage, music theory, and audio engineering. Our Latin Jazz Ensembles perform throughout the city, including at the Kimmel Center and Philadelphia Museum of Art. AMLA graduates have gained entrance into Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music and other performing arts institutions.


Esperanza Immigration Legal Services (EILS)

EILS was formed in 2009 with the mission to provide low-cost, non-litigation direct legal aid and citizenship education for underserved immigrants and their families so they can contribute to and participate in American society.


Esperanza Cyber Charter School (ECCS)

In 2012, Esperanza opened a virtual K-12 institution to provide an alternative for young people who would benefit from studying outside traditional settings.