Some of the most outstanding programs and conferences are: Congressional Internship Program, Leadership Conference, and the 45th Annual Awards Gala.

The importance of integrating the Latino community into public policy


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Noviembre 05, 2023


The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) was established in 1978 with the mission of developing the next generation of Latino youth and leaders in the United States. At that time, there were an average of 9.6 million Latinos distributed in specific states such as New York and California. Today, Latinos are the fastest growing population with 63 million across all states, making CHCI's work increasingly relevant. 

This nonprofit organization offers a wide variety of internship programs, scholarships, and leadership conferences to integrate Hispanic high school and college students into the U.S. Congress and allow them to learn about public policies. 

“Public policy is a key factor that a macro level impacts the entire nation and therefore impacts the Latino community writ large. And therefore, the more of us who understand how it works, the more of us who are involved in raising our voices, the more of us who contribute to the creation of laws and policies, better the chance for our community to be heard and respected,” said in an interview with AL DIA the President and CEO of CHCI, Marco A. Davis. 

In addition to the increase in Latino demographics over the years, the same is happening with the Latino community in higher education. According to a study by the Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC), Latinos record the largest increase in college enrollment since the pandemic began. They're the only sector that reflected a 13.3% increase during the Spring of 2022. On top of that, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities forecasts that Hispanic enrollment in higher education will exceed 4.1 million students by 2016, surpassing the growth rate of any other racial-ethnic group - by over 10%. 

With these statistics in mind, CHCI has the following programs exclusively for Hispanic students interested in public policy and higher education. 

Programs available: 

  • Post-Graduate Fellowship Program - "Designed for exceptional emerging Latino leaders who want to immerse themselves in a specific public policy area. This paid nine-month fellowship will provide you with valuable work experience, access to powerful Latino network, and a chance to showcase your public policy knowledge on Capitol Hill. As part of the program, you will research a public policy issue that relates to the Latino community in your specific area of study. You will then write an issue brief that is presented during the Capitol Hill Briefings." For more information, click here
    • Application Launch: September 15, 2022
    • Application Deadline: December 15, 2022
  • Public Policy Fellowship Program - "You will spend nine months working in Washington, D.C., with significant exposure to leaders in congressional offices, federal agencies, national nonprofit advocacy organizations, government-related institutes, and more—growing both personally and professionally during your fellowship experience." For more information, click here
    • Application Launch: September 15, 2022
    • Application Deadline: December 15, 2022
  • Congressional Internship Program - "Interns will have a full day centered on CHCI’s four Pillars of Leadership: Civic Engagement, Social Responsibility, Self Empowerment, and Promoting Community and Hispanic Culture. During these weekly sessions, participation in discussions surrounding issues that affect the Latino community will help interns explore a variety of topics while building strong relationships that can help throughout their career. CHCI’s curriculum is centered around a graduate-level non-credit public policy course taught by The George Washington University Cisneros Hispanic Leadership Institute and Trachtenberg School of Public Policy." For more information, click here
    • Program Dates: May 24 – August 4, 2023
    • Application Deadline: December 1, 2022 (standing deadline)
  • R2L Nextgen - "This is an all-expenses paid leadership experience designed just for Latino high school students. You can spend a week exploring Washington, D.C., while creating lasting friendships and wonderful memories." For more information, click here
    • Application launch: September 15, 2022
    • Application Deadline: February 15, 2023
  • Leadership Conference & 45th Annual Awards Gala - "The largest celebration of Latino excellence in the nation. The Leadership Conference includes 26 sessions featuring over 200 national leaders, elected officials, and influencers. The Awards Gala will pay homage to the most notable leaders for their legacies of impact and inspiration."

    The 45th Annual Awards Gala will be held on September 15 and will feature President Joe Biden as a special guest. On the first day of the conference on September 13, Vice President Kamala Harris participated in the Leadership Conference. 

Representations matters

During a previous interview conducted by AL DIA in mid-July, young Nataly Morales told us about her experience at the CHCI internship. According to the Harvard University graduate, this internship changed her life as a Latina woman. 

"It was an experience that helped me a lot and it was wonderful. However, I felt small and I was like 'What am I doing here? What do I have to contribute to this big institution of Government?' I didn't know how to network and I didn't feel represented because in Congress most of our senators are white and that's where I got that fear and imposter syndrome. But when I was afraid I realized I did have the experience, that the barriers I have faced are very valuable and that I have to continue advocating for my Latino community, for myself and for not being afraid to be who I really am."

According to CHCI's president and CEO, part of the purpose of the internships offered by the organization is the inclusion of Latinos in public policy, a field that needs greater representation. In addition to functioning as a network of connection and support for the future of young professionals.

"Not only do you deserve to be here, we actually need you here; our community needs to have more of you here because that's the only way our community is going to take its rightful place in society," said Davis.

The CEO also offered several tips to Hispanic students interested in public policy. One of them is to keep an eye on what the governor of your city is doing for the Latino community, as well as the decisions made by senators and assemblymen in your state. Regarding higher education, he recommended checking the school board plans of each school and staying active in public meetings and gatherings to hear what others have to say about the situation of the Latino community in your school and city. Also, stay updated on internship and scholarship opportunities offered by organizations such as the Hispanic Heritage Foundation and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund. 

“The biggest challenge that right now has the Latino community is understanding how powerful we are as a Latino and how significant are the young generation of our population,” concluded Davis. 

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