Revisiting Mission As Community Needs Evolve

Hispanic Heritage Foundation sought to sustain their impact while also growing to serve the broader Latinx+ community.

Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) was founded in 1988 with the mission to identify, inspire, prepare, and position Latino leaders in the classroom, community, and workforce to meet America’s priorities. Over the last three decades, the organization has positively influenced the lives of tens of thousands of Latinx people—especially youth—across the United States. 

Because of evolving dynamics within and beyond the Latinx community, HHF’s mission has expanded to include both service to and advocacy on behalf of the Latinx people. Further, the organization has recognized the need to cultivate strong and meaningful relationships within and among identity groups and has dedicated itself to supporting a thriving community that is inclusive of everyone. 

While this evolving scope has opened many new pathways to positive influence, it has also created capacity and prioritization challenges. In 2023, HHF engaged Outside Angle to bring its team together to envision an intentional future and define a strategic path forward. 

The HHF team has grown steadily, and its opportunities as an organization have multiplied exponentially. To truly serve its core mission, however, the full team had to make critical choices together.

Because of their passion and dedication to the work, the team grappled with the challenge of navigating the influx of new and inspiring programmatic opportunities. In service of their community, they wanted to take on all that they could and remain nimble as new issues arose. The temptation to extend themselves to embrace and accommodate all requests collided, however, with their commitment to execute their core mission with fidelity. The organization’s main goals were rather broad, making it difficult for them to discern which projects made sense to pursue and execute. As a result, the team ended up spreading their resources thin, resulting in a wide breadth of impact rather than increased depth. While this tradeoff was not inherently negative, it did raise the specter of sustainability over the long term.

To help HHF develop a clearer vision for core work, Outside Angle facilitated a series of three leadership sessions. The first session focused on alignment of vision. Our discussions focused on HHF’s main guiding principle and explored different team members’ perspectives about where the organization was headed. From these discussions, a strong goal emerged: HHF aspired to become the top place that communities everywhere could go to for important resources. At the same time, the organization wanted to stand up for voices that were often suppressed or ignored. This shared goal brought the team closer together and helped guide everyone’s individual goals to match the overall mission, which boosted the team’s overall performance and success.

36th Annual Hispanic Heritage Awards, September 2023

HHF wanted and needed the latitude to be responsive to the emerging needs of the community without losing focus on its core mission and work.

At HHF, an abundance of mission-aligned opportunities created a tension between existing commitments and exciting new ways to serve the community. The organization often found itself in a position where it was balancing numerous programs and projects from sponsors and other organizations, all aiming to address community needs and secure additional funding. This situation posed the challenge of harmonizing these opportunities with the organization’s fundamental mission. The aspiration to serve as a comprehensive resource had occasionally led HHF to engage in endeavors that didn’t perfectly align with their core mission, resulting in a sense of being pulled in different directions. 

To address this, we engaged in an analysis to help discern key differences between essential outcomes and distinctive, impactful special projects. We established that core work refers to the essential tasks required to deliver the organization’s value proposition, while special projects aim to solve problems or address unmet needs. This allowed the team to step back and evaluate whether their efforts were effectively focused on the most crucial tasks. 

The analysis revealed that elements of their emerging work align better with the mission than a few programs which were originally thought to be at the organization’s core. To support their ongoing commitment to being a valuable resource for all communities, Outside Angle recommended that HHF consistently clarify and review the distinction between core work and special projects, ensuring a clear path towards meaningful progress while protecting their core mission.

Establishing not just an infinite vision for the future but a vision for how the organization ensures growth and continued evolution in the near team helped to create the foundation for team alignment and success.

Vision needs specificity and process. With Outside Angle’s support, the HHF leadership team discussed what HHF’s core work looks like at maturity and brainstormed ways that those programs could further expand their organizational impact. During our collaborative sessions, the team effectively utilized their time to uncover tensions between various choices and engaged in discussion that enabled them to identify optimal paths forward. This process revealed the down-stream impact of over-extending themselves in order to activate popular initiatives that, while valuable, might not align with the most essential work of the organization. 

With this realization made, our final engagement centered on envisioning the mature state of HHF’s core work and creatively brainstorming ways to amplify the organizational impact of those programs. To provide a clear sense of purpose and orientation, we highlighted the significance of establishing well-defined, tangible objectives. Together, the team engaged in a helpful exercise to pinpoint specific goals for each core program, delving into the requirements necessary for achieving successful outcomes. These short-term and long-term objectives will play a key role in driving progress and create a well-established path towards the team’s desired results. By adopting this approach, the team was able to create a method of effectively monitoring and evaluating their achievements, and inspiring even greater achievements in the future.

Our collaboration resulted in a lightweight summary of strategic actions—effectively balancing delivery on existing commitments and responsiveness to emergent needs within the Latinx community—that will support HHF’s continued alignment and strategic decision-making.

HHF has always been dedicated to deeply understanding and responding to the needs of the Latinx community while also seizing opportunities to highlight and celebrate the remarkable accomplishments of Latinx people in every corner of American life. Our work together sought to maximize HHF’s strengths by making it possible to continue striking that balance without burning out staff or compromising the quality of existing programs. Going forward, HHF will continue to operate the programs for which it has become so well known, such as the Youth Awards, LOFT network events, and the upcoming HHF Awards. At the same time, it will elevate and address essential issues of our day. For example, today HHF is working to increase Latinx representation such as in Minecraft LatinExplorers, Latinx participation through the Code as a Second Language initiative, and Latinx elevation such as via Creciendo Con TikTok

While the organization pursues fundamental goals within these critical domains, HHF’s aspirations extend beyond its current successes. The organization is prepared to elevate its mission to address contemporary and pressing issues that define our society, and recognizes the significance of representation within the rapidly evolving landscape of modern media. In summation, HHF’s journey is one of continuous evolution, fueled by an unwavering dedication to the Latinx community and determination to celebrate accomplishments while addressing the vital concerns of the present. With its established programs standing strong and its new initiatives navigating uncharted territories, HHF remains positioned to shape a future where Latinx contributions and aspirations flourish.

Learn more about the Hispanic Heritage Foundation and the amazing work they are doing within the community.

HHF is recognized across the United States for elevating the Latinx community by cultivating leadership, providing and supporting education, and encouraging entrepreneurship. HHF’s mission focuses on education, workforce, social impact, and identity and culture through the lens of leadership.

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