America has always been a rich tapestry of cultures—each contributing their unique perspectives, customs and achievements. National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the multitude of Spanish-speaking traditions in the U.S. Whether you want to honor your own heritage or that of your neighbors, this monthlong event is a great opportunity to learn about, celebrate and give back to the community.
What is National Hispanic Heritage Month?
Sept. 15 kicks off a celebration of the contributions and heritage of more than 62 million Americans—
But why start in the middle of September? Sept. 15 marks the anniversaries of independence for several Latin American countries—including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Additionally, Mexico celebrates its independence on Sept. 16, followed by Chile on Sept. 18. The U.S. Virgin Islands also celebrates Friendship Day on the second Monday of October.
By celebrating the achievements of our country's neighbors, we honor and embrace the differences and strengths of the people who came to the U.S. and have shaped our shared history. Here are a few ideas from Thrivent clients' churches, communities and favorite charities to inspire your own exploration of Hispanic/Latino cultures.
5 actions you can take during National Hispanic Heritage Month
1. Take a leap of faith
Hispanic Heritage Month is as much about traditions of faith as it is about food, music, art and literature. There's no better place to start than a church in a Hispanic/Latino community. Immanuel Lutheran Church in Brandon, Florida, worked with Rev. Miguel Sanabria, Jr., associate pastor for Hispanic ministry, to share the church's Hispanic ministry plan and enjoy traditional dishes together. Faith and fellowship were also on the menu and the event proved to be a valuable outing for Latino and non-Latino members alike. Those learning Spanish benefitted from the opportunity to practice their language skills in a welcoming space. There are many other ways to level up your cultural learning of Latino culture. And faith can be a personal and profound connection.
2. Experience culture through cuisine
Today, there are few corners of American dining that are not influenced or inspired by Latino cooking. Take a page from the cookbook of La Luz Centro Cultural, which held a series of food-infused events to share some sweet and savory food favorites along with fellowship. The Hampton, Iowa nonprofit's first event was Tamales Community Night, a tamal cooking event where community members gathered to make the classic dish and champurrado—a warm, thick chocolate beverage. Attendees enjoyed games and Latin music during the festivities. The organization also held a cooking class highlighting other foods from around Central America to unite Latino and non-Latino communities.
3. Plant a love of literature
More than 595 million people speak Spanish, with 496 million being native speakers.2 As a phonetic language (spelled the way it sounds), it's among the easiest to learn for English speakers.3 Mi Libro Hispano, a Miami area nonprofit, is well-versed in the need for Spanish language texts. It promotes Hispanic authors and helps market their work at a yearly book fair. The organization presents books in Spanish, English, as well as bilingual texts.
Mi Libro Hispano knows a love of books—both reading and writing them—begins in childhood. That's why it brings authors to visit area schools to help promote their work and inspire new generations of Spanish-speaking readers. It's an endeavor with promise for growth, as one in four children in the U.S. is of Hispanic/Latino origin.4
Give your community a reading challenge in both languages and start a bookmobile. Make sure to stock plenty of Spanish and bilingual titles to appeal to a wider readership.
4. Empower education
Hispanic Latino Resource Group, Inc. from Galesburg, Illinois, held a scholarship fundraising event for their community's college-bound Hispanic youth. Several of the students within the group represent the first generation in their families to attend college. The community teamed up to help them with some initial expenses on their paths to higher education.
In Hickory, North Carolina, Centro Latino is a community resource center that provides an afterschool tutoring program called Abriendo Puertas (Opening Doors). Program tutors help children with math, reading and English language skills. Each year, the community comes together to celebrate the children's academic accomplishments and express gratitude to the volunteers who share their expertise. Community members raised money for the event's expenses and a small thank you gift for the tutors.
5. Make it happen—lead a Thrivent Action Team
See a need in your own community? Use your inspiration to make a difference by leading a
- A Community Impact Card with up to $250 in seed money.
- A personalized webpage and other digital tools to promote your activity.
- "Live Generously" T-shirts for your crew of volunteers.
- Thank you cards, name tags, stickers and more.
Thrivent Action Team kits are also available in Spanish—request one when you apply.
Leverage your Thrivent benefits to give back
Thrivent believes that we all thrive when we uplift and celebrate our differences. National Hispanic Heritage Month is the perfect time to connect with others in your community and make an impact. In addition to leading a Thrivent Action Team, Thrivent clients with membership can also direct Choice Dollars® to a cause they care about through the