Message from LISC’s CEO:
As we celebrate the anniversary of our country’s independence this week, I find myself reflecting on a conversation I had nearly three years ago with a college student in Havana, Cuba.
I was there as part of a trade mission with the mayor of Washington D.C. and government officials from my home state of Virginia and neighboring Maryland jurisdictions.
This talented, poised young woman, one of our guides, was clearly knowledgeable and hard-working. She told me she loved Cuba deeply, and her greatest desire was to move to the United States to finish her education and make a life there.
She believed that America held the chance for her to be everything that she could be, and she was willing to leave behind her loved ones and her cherished homeland to harness that American promise. Then she asked me: as an African American, did I believe that promise was still real?
I responded with an unqualified “yes.” I told her about all the individuals and institutions– my family, my church, my high school teachers, my college professors and mentors–that had taken a chance on me and propelled me into adulthood and a fulfilling professional journey. And about all the examples of talented people I have encountered over the course of my career, from all walks of life, who have seized opportunities to flourish and make invaluable contributions to the society around them.
The promise that young Cuban asked me about is really a mutual promise, a mutual commitment: she was willing to take a bet on America. For that wager to pay off, Americans must be willing to bet on her in return. That’s how we all benefit; that’s how America stays competitive.
Throughout the history of this country, immigrants have taken a chance on us, because America held the promise of opportunity. As a result, our nation has prospered and become like no other. Now is the time for us to recommit to this mutual invitation and to resist the temptation to become weary. LISC’s work, in rural and urban communities throughout our land, reveals the invaluable contributions of immigrants. In fact, the places where we invest are home to 1.5 times more foreign born residents than most American communities.
In that spirit, we want to share with you a video about our longtime partner, the Latin American Youth Center. For 50 years, LAYC has supported Washington D.C.-area youth–including many who immigrated here as children–to help them realize their enormous potential and contribute to the civic and economic life of this country. LISC is proud to have supported LAYC for two decades, investing more than $2 million in its people and programs. As you’ll see, there’s much to celebrate.
Wishing you all a peaceful and happy 4th of July!
Maurice A. Jones