Latinitas, a non-profit founded at UT that focuses on empowering young Latinas through media and technology, raised $7,400 Friday to help families in need of financial assistance to send their daughters to summer camp.
Latinitas used Amplify Austin, an annual day of online giving, to set a goal of raising $10,000 for their 100 summer camp spots at Tamale House East, where donors were given free coffee and breakfast tacos.
Latinitas summer camp is four weeks long with each week dedicated to different areas — cinema, fashion, technology and health. Campers are required to produce projects with multimedia components, such as blogging, coding and design.
Latinitas brings Austin companies and volunteers within the creative and technology industries to their events.
Business consultant Lauren Galea said she was introduced to Latinitas through a career day session at their camp. Galea said she enjoyed speaking to the girls about STEM and encouraging them to find what sets their “soul on fire.”
“Female empowerment across all races and gender identities is very important to me,” Galea said. “Working for Facebook under Sheryl Sandberg’s leadership, it was arguably the loudest voice for female empowerment around the world.”
Latinitas program director Sylvia Butanda said the organization’s message is getting stronger and reaching a wider audience. What started out as a web-based magazine “for Latinas by Latinas” has transformed into a training and self-esteem boosting program, Butanda said.
“People are paying attention,” Butanda said. “People in the tech industry, media, cultural arts, education—we touch all of those subjects and all those areas
Butanda said she wished she grew up with a program like Latinitas.
“I was a Latinita,” Butanda said. “At 9 years old, I loved writing and learning about how movies and music work. That’s what the girls do in our summer programs, specifically. We teach them how to express themselves through a variety of mediums.”
Psychology junior Gabriela Gonzalez said she sees a version of herself in the young girls she works with in Latinitas.
“I grew up attending a school with a similar demographic, and I never felt like there was an outlet to creatively engage with media and technology,” Gonzalez said. “Media is a unique and increasingly more accessible tool for marginalized communities to tell their stories and create a space for themselves in our society.”