By Staff Reporter ( | First Posted: Oct 26, 2016 06:32 AM EDT

America has long been known as a "melting pot" of cultures, but simply having diversity doesn't necessarily mean different cultures are well-represented. While Latinos make up more than 17% of the US population, a 2015 report by Leadership California Institute found that a small fraction of government positions are actually held by Latinos despite the state being 38.6% Latino. Although underrepresented, there are plenty of organizations doing what they can to empower and bring the much needed visibility to the Latino community.

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI)

Of the listed organizations, the CHCI provides one of the most important services: developing the future Latino leaders of the country. To accomplish this, the CHCI provides programs to discover and examine America's policies and leadership. In addition to these programs, CHCI connects Latino youth with a network of Latinos in leadership positions. By combining programs and connections, the CHCI is effectively developing the next generation of Latino leaders.

Chess in the Schools

Jennifer Shahade is currently a member of The Queens of Hearts, a group of women working to even the male-dominated playing field in the game of poker. However, prior to her poker-related work, Shahade worked with the Chess In the Schools (CIS) program in the New York area - a program whose audience is made up of more than 30% Latinos. As part of her work with CIS, Shahade started a girls' academy and coached a championship team.

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Committee for Hispanic Families and Children (CHFC)

The CHFC is a more general organization which aims to provide services, including development and advocacy, to strengthen and empower Latino families and communities. Since its formation in 1982, the CHFC has had two main focuses - its early care and education institute and its bevy of youth development programs. Among development programs offered to Latino youth are after school programs, career and college preparation, and teen pregnancy prevention.

Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA)

The HNBA is an organization that represents legal professionals of Latino descent. As a secondary mission, the HNBA advocates for the interests of the general Latino population in the US. In addition to advocacy for legal professionals, the HNBA provides continuing legal education and professional development for legal professionals at all levels. The HNBA fills a very important niche, since only 4% of the lawyers in the country are Latino.

Instituto del Progreso Latino

Family Relaxing Indoors Playing Chess And Reading Book
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Juan Salgado is a 2015 MacArthur Foundation Grant winner and President and CEO of the Instituto del Progreso Latino organization. Instituto prepares workers for better jobs in fields with a high demand for bilingual workers - particularly health care and manufacturing. This is particularly important due to key challenges that Latinos face in the workplace. In addition to the variety of career advancement and educational development programs offered by Instituto, they have two schools: The Justice and Leadership Academy and the Health Sciences Career Academy.

Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE)

In 1974, a group of city of Los Angeles engineers formed the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers as an organization of role models for youth in the Latino community. With networking being their main focus, the SHPE formed two student chapters that eventually expanded beyond the nation. To date, the SHPE maintains independent student and professional chapters across the country. To help those who are on the career path to becoming an engineer, the SHPE provides their own scholarships in addition to providing company-sponsored scholarships in cooperation with brands like Google and Telemundo.

Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF)

Another more general organization, the HAF aims to connect Latino families with the resources they need to succeed. These resources aim to provide Latino families with much-needed amenities such as proper health care, a healthy environment, a quality education, and economic success. HAF partners with more than 17,000 Latino-serving community organizations, referring to them through a toll-free bilingual line the people whom they serve. By using mass media, HAF can expose people to new information and gauge their interest, then serves those who are interested.

While all of these initiatives provide different specific resources, they all share a common goal: improving the Latino community and their quality of life. Each of these organizations and philanthropists is finding a different yet effective way to empower today's Latino community so they can improve the community of tomorrow.