When the “battered women’s movement” was still young in the late 1970’s, a small group of Latina activists gathered in St. Paul, MN, to advocate for Latinas experiencing domestic violence. Esperanza United incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1982 under the name “Casa de Esperanza” and opened a shelter. Here are a few milestones that, in retrospect, were indicators of future priorities and direction:

  • 1989

    Began community workshops for Latinas.

  • 1993

    Established 24/7 bilingual crisis line.

  • 1995

    Produced first product—the film, My Girlfriend Did It.

  • 1999

    Initiated listening sessions in the community and launched Fuerza Unida, focusing on learning what was important to Latinas and changing community attitudes about domestic violence.

  • 2001

    Approved a new mission statement that identified the community as the agent of change in ending domestic violence.

  • 2004

    Hosted our first national conference, Responding to Domestic Violence in Latin@ Communities, in Minneapolis.

  • 2004

    Received first Technical Assistance grant from Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), US Department of Justice. Began providing training and technical assistance nationally in 2005.

  • 2009

    Launched the National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities, which expanded our national training/technical assistance, and introduced our policy advocacy and our research center.

  • 2011

    The Department of Health and Human Services awarded Esperanza United the Family Violence Prevention and Services Discretionary Grant. The grant designates the organization as a National Culturally Specific Special Issue Resource Center whose focus is working within Latin@ communities. As a national resource center, Esperanza United is a member of a nationwide network that supports prevention and intervention efforts across the country to end domestic and dating violence.

  • 2012

    Launched Fuerza Unida (United in Strength) Amig@s, building on our previous leadership development training for Latina women and girls. The Amig@s Initiative provides leadership training and awareness on gender-based violence for Latin@ adults and youth, who in turn, become first responders and develop action projects which benefit the well-being of their communities.

  • 2015

    In partnership with the highly successful NO MORE campaign, Esperanza United created Decimos NO MÁS, culturally adapting the campaign for the Latin@ community. Based on research conducted the previous year, Decimos NO MÁS supports Latin@ parents in engaging in meaningful conversations about healthy relationships and sexuality with their children.

  • 2017

    Hired our first Men and Boys Engagement Coordinator to provide key support for Latino men and boys, including the facilitation of masculinity circles, which provide the opportunity to explore culture/identity, challenge gender norms/male privilege, and foster healthy masculinity in safe community spaces.

  • 2019

    Se recibió el premio “Mission Advocacy Award del Minnesota Council of Nonprofits”, reconociendo nuestro enfoque de defensa basado en latinas como único y ofreciendo un espectro no duplicado de servicios directos y apoyo para familias latinas que sufren violencia doméstica.

  • 2021

    Renamed the organization to be “Esperanza United,” bringing together our local and national work under one umbrella and honoring the work that brought us here.