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Reverend Luis Cortés, founder, president and CEO of Esperanza. Photo Courtesy of Esperanza
Reverend Luis Cortés, founder, president and CEO of Esperanza. Photo Courtesy of Esperanza

Esperanza to be honored at annual PHL Diversity Business Opportunity Luncheon

The faith-based organization will be one of four award winners at the event, who will each be honored for their impacts throughout the city.

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With a commitment of connecting diverse business leaders to many opportunities, the annual Business Opportunity Luncheon fulfills PHL Diversity’s goal of providing access.

Celebrating its 13th year, the event gives leaders an opportunity to network, learn about contracting, exhibiting, the RFP process, and about the many businesses doing outstanding things here in Philadelphia. The event also stands as an opportunity for diversity leaders to be recognized through different awards.

“That allows them to be promoted, not only to the local business community, but as well to those meetings and conventions that have chosen Philadelphia, and honestly, who are also considering Philadelphia,” Greg DeShields, executive director of PHL Diversity, said.

Greg DeShields, executive director of PHL Diversity, a division of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau. Photo Courtesy of PHL Diversity. 

One of the organizations that will be honored at the luncheon is Esperanza, a faith-based organization with a mission of strengthening the Hispanic, and many other diverse communities, in a number of different capacities. They will be the recipient of the Non-Profit Business Award, which is presented to an organization whose advocacy and community service resulted in a positive impact on the multicultural community while embodying the principles of PHL Diversity.

DeShields said there are three major areas that are indicative of the core of what Esperanza does.

“The educational component that they have, through the college and the academy charter school, that is really meant to increase the capability of those Latinos who live in the neighborhood,” he said. “They’re able to gain academic knowledge to prepare them for successful careers.”

The second area is the community economic development work they’ve done.

“Esperanza, itself, has been a huge revitalization for the neighborhood which it is located in,” DeShields said. “And it provides a variety of resources to those who live in the community, especially around workforce development.”

The third area, the most important area, he said, is their work around impacting social change.

“They are very committed to national programs,” DeShields said of Esperanza. “With Philadelphia being a sanctuary city, they’re very supportive of providing legal services to the local immigrant community.”

“Overall, to have an organization that is located within the heart of a community that provides multiple resources to enhance the quality of life for those individuals who live in that community, is really indicative of a very successful non-profit organization. I think, without any doubt, Esperanza is a very well-deserved recipient of the award this year,” he continued.

Esperanza was founded by the Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia in 1986. Today, it has a network of more than 13,000 Hispanic faith and community-based organizations, and serves as one of the leading voices for Latinos in America.

Upon learning about being named the winner of the Non-Profit Business Award, Esperanza president and CEO Rev. Luis Cortés said he and his 450 employee staff were pleasantly surprised.

“It was great to feel that someone actually sees the other side of the work we do,” said Cortés. “We started [Esperanza] from scratch, and we’ve been able to build it up to the present. It’s good to be recognized for that work because what people recognize us for is the work we do on behalf of our community, but many times they don’t necessarily recognize the fact that we actually are a business, as well.”

Both organizations share similar ideals of the importance of diversity, both for the city of Philadelphia and beyond.

“Certainly, we know that diversity and inclusion increases the value of all of the citizens of any community. And that focus around diversity and inclusion just increases the engagement and highlights the diverse resources of that city. So, it’s a good thing for quality of life,” DeShields said.

“But it’s also a very good thing for business. You know, the diversity of thought, the diversity of customers’ needs, all of those things really have proven to be a benefit to business, and that it generates a huge return on investment for those organizations that really focus on adapting a diversity and inclusion strategy.

So, from our perspective, we see engaging diverse individuals, diverse perspectives, diverse way of thought, to begin to take what already exists and make it better by then adapting the inclusion of it. That anything that we would have already done is enhanced even that much more when we bring diversity, and of course, new way of thought, new perspectives, and new points of view.”

To this point, Cortés added that Esperanza is proud and happy to provide services to all the diverse communities that make up Hunting Park, Olney and surrounding areas. This is particularly true in relation to their diverse employee based.

“We have people from different countries, we have gender diversity,” said Cortés. “We serve a majority Latino community, but it’s diverse itself… also, we have a large African American community, and within the Spanish-speaking world, we have different ethnic groups, different Hispanic ethnic groups. We have a large Puerto Rican community, but we also have Dominicans, Colombians, Guatemalans, Hondurans, and Mexicans, and many others. We also have a Haitian community that we work with, and some Southeast Asians.”

This recognition is something Cortés was happy to see happen with all the work the organization has done.

“We’re very proud to have won this award… very happy that we were chosen, and we’re looking forward to the event,” Cortés said.

There will be three other awards given out at the luncheon. Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent J. Hughes will be awarded The Bring it Home Award; The Philadelphia Tribune will be awarded the Minority Business Award; and Nicole Cashman of Cashman & Associates will be awarded the Women-Owned Business Award.

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