Across the world and here in Alabama, the COVID-19 pandemic is causing pain and hardship, and communities of color are especially suffering disproportionately.
A grant to the nonprofit Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama (¡HICA!) from the Alabama Power Foundation is helping Hispanic families maneuver through these turbulent financial times and secure stable and permanent homes, while also expanding opportunities for Hispanic small businesses and entrepreneurs.
“This past year has been a challenge for the local Hispanic community, on so many levels,” said Mark Crosswhite, Alabama Power CEO and a member of the Alabama Power Foundation board of directors. “Through this grant from the foundation, we hope the coming year will provide better economic opportunities for Hispanic businesses, entrepreneurs and families to grow and thrive.”
The multifaceted grant program is funding professional, technical and marketing services and support for Hispanic small businesses and entrepreneurs, to help them expand and create jobs. It will support financial workshops for Hispanic families to help them build credit, reduce debt and increase savings, while also providing support to aid first-time homeowners, as well as rental assistance and housing counseling for Latino families.
In addition, the grant will support a ¡HICA! program that provides microloans to small Hispanic businesses, and a program that provides tax assistance and counseling for businesses and families.
“Our Community Economic Development program is focused on providing opportunities for lower- and moderate-income Latino communities across the state,” said Isabel Rubio, ¡HICA! executive director. “It promotes financial stability and asset-building through education, technical assistance and other support frameworks.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has put additional burdens on many Latino families,” Rubio added. “With the help of the Alabama Power Foundation, we hope to continue to work with families and businesses to help them get through these very tough times while paving the way for a more promising future.”
Founded in 1999, ¡HICA! is a community development and advocacy organization supported by the United Way of Central Alabama. ¡HICA! champions economic equality, civic engagement and social justice for Latino and immigrant families in Alabama through a variety of programs and services.
¡HICA!’s Community Economic Development Program, which the foundation grant will support, provides a variety of services – from financial literacy workshops to business planning and development – tailored to help Latino families build financial stability.
The Alabama Power Foundation has been a longtime supporter of ¡HICA! and its many activities supporting the Hispanic community. Among those is the annual celebration of Hispanic culture, Fiesta, which takes place in Birmingham in the fall.
Alabama Power employees also serve as volunteer leaders with the organization. Deyse Lopez and Lauren Salas Lambiase are Alabama Power employees of Hispanic heritage who work in the company’s economic and community development department. Both serve on the ¡HICA! junior board. Other Alabama Power employees have volunteered over the years in support of other ¡HICA! programs and events.
“The Alabama Power Foundation is proud to support ¡HICA! through this latest grant, and to support the many programs and services ¡HICA! provides to help our Latino neighbors, businesses and entrepreneurs,” said Tequila Smith, Alabama Power Foundation president.
“The Hispanic community is an important part of Alabama’s diverse and rich tapestry of cultures,” she said. “Through ¡HICA!’s efforts, and the work of many others, we see a promising future of growth and vitality for the Latino community in Alabama.”