Los Angeles, CA, 06 September 2016 | 03:00 PM America/Chicago Empowering Young Latinas with H.O.P.E. Leadership program making a big impact in California The word, and acronym, HOPE is a constant reminder of what matters most to Helen Iris Torres. HOPE, is the mentoring program she leads to empower and bring hope to California high school girls. Since 2004, the Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) Youth Leadership Program (HYLP) has educated more than 3,000 young women to become leaders while encouraging them to go on to college. Helen is the executive director of HOPE. Program participants receive financial literacy and civic engagement trainings tailored to their needs in an age-appropriate and culturally sensitive way. HYLP participants conduct surveys of Latinas in their high schools. They share the findings with state legislators in more than 160 meetings annually. They talk about the challenges high school Latinas face in their communities. Challenges that deter them from attending college. “One thing I learned from the HYLP was there are various resources to help me and my peers with the college process. Now I don’t have any fears about applying to college.” Says Alyssa Villegas, HYLP participant 2016. HYLP participants also share survey results at youth town halls and with school board and community leaders in areas like Napa, Los Angeles, Riverside, and Fontana. The HLYP takes on more than 300 high school-aged Latinas annually. Twenty-four of those Latinas participate in a targeted, six month program (Track 1). The rest (Track 2) convene during HOPE’s two largest conferences, HOPE Latina History Day and Latina Action Day at the state capitol in Sacramento. “HYLP inspired me to pursue a higher education and become a role model. It opened my mentality to different career paths, such as the media and politics,” shared Evelyn Camacho, HYLP participant 2016. “I’m thankful I was a part of this program because I developed a broader thinking process and it taught me the tools needed to become an advocate in my community.” More than 360 Latinas have participated in the intensive six-month leadership program. Nearly 90% of those have enrolled in college and 98% have graduated from high school. Participants credit the HYLP for motivating and encouraging them to pursue higher education. This year the participants met with state elected officials and shared their findings on topics including teen driver safety and the dangers of texting and driving. With the help of State Farm, the young women provided current stats and research on both topics.