AUSTIN (KXAN) — This Saturday, the “Somos El Futuro” (We are the Future) conference will hold workshops for young women of color on leadership, mental health, education and entrepreneurship, to help the girls build the futures that they want.
The event is a first for Con Mi Madre, an Austin-based organization with a focus on the empowerment of young Latinas and their mothers. The group works to achieve this through a variety of “education and support services that increase preparedness, participation, and success in post-secondary education,” according to a press release.
Con Mi Madre executive director Dr. Johanna Moya Fábregas, herself a first-generation graduate, said that community feedback inspired the event.
“For a lot of women of color, especially those who are first-generation graduates, the access to all of those skills, soft skills that you need to navigate the workforce, it’s limited, and therefore they start at a disadvantage when joining the workforce,” Fábregas said. “It was thinking about those needs and responding to those needs within our students, but then realizing that this call goes beyond those that we serve, that there’s a need in the community. So that’s why this is the first conference that we open up for participant for outside of coming my other participants as well.”
Typically, most of Con Mi Madre’s work starts with students in or entering high school. The students and their parents must apply to participate in the programs.
The conference will be held at the St. Andrew’s Episcopal School (5901 Southwest Pkwy, Austin) from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. Registration is required and can be purchased for $25. The cost covers breakfast and lunch for participants.
At Somos El Futuro, participants will attend workshops on “resume building, personal and professional branding, career development and entrepreneurship.” The group also promises that mental health resources, including an “ask a therapist” session, will be available.
“It’s designed to be an interactive and dynamic conference,” Fábregas said. “It’s not designed to be the kind of conference where you go and sit down, receive a bunch of information or inspired for a minute, get a swag bag, go home, put it on a shelf, and that’s it.”
To wrap up the event, there will be a panel discussion about entrepreneurship, which will feature Gabriela Bucio, owner of local restaurant Gabriela’s, and TK Tunchez, owner of Las Ofrendas and Frida Friday ATX.
The organization was founded in 1992 as the Hispanic Mother-Daughter Program (HMDP). According to Con Mi Madre, the program has helped more than 3,000 ‘mother-daughter teams’ to and through post-secondary education.
According to the Pew Research Center, Latino enrollment in higher education has reached an all-time high, but only accounts for 20% of college students. Around 79% of Hispanic people in America older than 25 years old do not have a college degree, a rate that exceeds the national average of 62%.
Fábregas said that at a national level, she hopes there will be an acceptance and mindset change around the fact that Latinas are the fastest-growing population in the U.S. From her perspective: there is a looming policy choice: to prepare women of color to lead the economy, or to not prepare them.
“Whether they go to college, whether they graduate or whether they don’t, they are still going to be the largest part of the population that is going to occupy our workforce,” Fábregas said. “Once you understand that, you invest in that, to ensure that you have the proper supports to ensure that that demographic, that population, is well positioned to drive the economy because they will regardless.”