Latino Leadership Institute, Inc. (LLI) was founded in 1998 by residents of the Southside of Williamsburg, Brooklyn and East Harlem with a shared mission to politically empower Latinos and other underrepresented minorities by increasing participation in the democratic process. In pursuit of this mission, LLI trains, organizes and mobilizes underrepresented New Yorkers. The goal is to promote nonpartisan voter education and mobilization, neighborhood advocacy, and political campaign efforts grounded in the needs and aspirations of the community. LLI provides community members with the data and information, knowledge and analytic skills that are necessary to be efficient advocates and organizers.

LLI’s goals are accomplished by training, organizing and mobilizing leaders into an agenda that reflects their aspirations and values. LLI’s three core programs include leadership training, community dialogues, and voter education. Each fall, LLI’s 10-week Saturday Electoral Activism and Leadership Academy teaches students the information and skills to successfully manage campaigns. Topics include but are not limited to public speaking, election law, fundraising, ethics, and mobilization. Since 1999, over 500 students have graduated LLI’s Academy. Numerous graduates have moved on to serve as campaign managers and to be elected as judges, union leaders, and elected officials, including the first Latina Speaker of the New York City Council, local labor leaders and the first Latina elected to state office in Michigan. In 2015 LLI was selected by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics as one of the Bright Spots in Hispanic Education Nationally.

In 2013, the Public Policy courses were instituted to provide the policy framework for candidates, particularly those who are successfully elected to leadership roles in government and labor. Policy courses cover relevant topics related to housing, urban environmentalism, health and community development. LLI seeks to inform community members about the current policies that could have an effect on their communities, including policies that are already in place and policies that are being proposed for the future. By filling these classes to capacity, LLI has effectively challenged the popular belief that working class people of color do not care about policy issues. Each year, attendance at the policy courses includes between 70 and 100 participants, as LLI further influences public policy in a nonpartisan manner by holding forums to engage the community and its leaders in dialogue on relevant policy issues.

LLI operates entirely through the hard work and collaboration of an impressive array of volunteers, board members, and student interns. Each of LLI’s many accomplishments reflect this shared dedication to the organization’s nonpartisan, inclusive approach to political empowerment. In addition to LLI’s home base in New York City, the Central Florida Chapter of LLI is well-established since 2013, offering annual campaign management courses. During the 2016 election, Florida LLI graduates were instrumental in addressing barriers to voter participation, providing the basis for the soon to be released documentary “Let My People Vote”, sponsored by the International Documentary Association, for which LLI’s Board President served as Consulting Producer. 

LLI seeks to democratize the electoral process by creating a direct connection between political leaders and the communities they wish to represent.