Latine-led organization building power in East Texas

Three friends decided they wanted to do more for their community in East Texas. They volunteered with statewide groups, but the groups weren’t prepared to support people like them — young people of color in a rural area. Although young people of color comprise the majority of young people in Texas, at the time there were no organizations in the state specifically focused on this demographic. So in 2020, they founded Este Poder, a youth Latine-led organization building power for their rural East Texas communities of color.

As an early supporter, Rural Democracy Initiative provided vital funding for their work, and we also helped them establish operational systems, connect to partners, and identify additional funders. As they scaled up, we provided data support so they could engage their audiences more strategically and efficiently.

What started as three friends with a vision is now a growing organization building power and helping young people take on leadership roles. In 2023, they partnered with six high schools and two colleges to run civic engagement classes. Students in the classes learned how to register people to vote and then registered hundreds of their peers.

Este Poder also led programs to connect with young people who don’t go to college  the majority of rural young people. They held and participated in cultural events like Cinco De Mayo and Juneteenth. They also set up at popular hubs like churches and high-traffic grocery stores. Through these activities, they had thousands of conversations, collected over 200 vote pledges, and surveyed hundreds of young people about the issues that concerned them most. Este Poder members additionally served as trusted local spokespeople in television news interviews, elevating local issues like Hispanic Heritage Month and voter registration.

Este Poder is building a base of people who want to get more involved and have the skills, experience, and relationships to make a difference. Each year, their organization grows, and they organize more local people to make progress in their community.