LATISM13 conference: harnessing social media to improve Latinos’ lives

In less than five years, Latinos in Social Media (LATISM) has been able to unite thousands of Latinos in the nation in hopes of helping advance their social, civic and economic status.

Over the years, LATISM has engaged Latinos on diverse topics including business, education, health and technology.

“We celebrate the fact that Latinos are leading technology innovations and social media, and we are here to stay,” said Ana Roca Castro, one of the founders of LATISM, to NBC Latino. “But the LATISM challenge is: now what? Where are we going?”

During this year’s annual conference in New York City, the aim was to focus on an actionable agenda for the next five years and beyond, ensuring the organization helps bring about real, actionable change.

As a way to show their commitment to issues affecting the nation’s Hispanics, the group organized a pro-immigration march on Sept. 21. They marched to show Congress their support for the 11 million undocumented immigrants.

The LATISM conference held panels and discussions for groups which have sometimes felt like they have not had enough of a “voice” and support within the community.  Latinos traveled from different parts of the country to attend a highly regarded and attended panel on LGBT issues.

The non-profit’s panel discussion also placed a big emphasis on health, in order to raise awareness in a variety of issues affecting the community, such as obesity, cancer and heart problems.

LATISM also places a strong emphasis on education, and has addressed the need for more Latino educators, as well as training Hispanic teachers in the use of technology in their classrooms. Roca Castro said that they hope to engage more Latino teachers so they too can inspire future generations to “lead and create technology” instead of just consuming it.

More importantly, the aim of the conference was to ensure that through social media and technology, Latinos can truly be agents of change in their communities.

“We don’t want to just change peoples’ hearts,” Roca Castro said. “But also change laws, priorities, budgets and the nation.”

During the three-day conference, various media, public relations, bloggers and other outlets were awarded for their work in the Latino community. For the second year in a row, NBC Latino was honored as the best digital news site.

“We will use technology and innovation to amplify our voices; it’s not just noise, but action,” Roca Castro said.

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