Awaken. Lead. Inspire.
The mission of the Virginia Hispanic Foundation is to provide the Hispanic community with education, information, and resources to successfully integrate themselves into the Commonwealth of Virginia.
It all began in 1972, when Michel Zajur and his family revolutionized the Richmond food scene opening one of the first Mexican cuisine family restaurants, La Siesta. Years later, this experience inspired Michel and his wife, Lisa, to create “La Siesta Town,” an interactive program designed to educate children about the benefits of learning Spanish as a second language.
La Siesta hosted Richmond’s very first Cinco de Mayo celebration, which is now the Que Pasa Festival! It didn’t take long before La Siesta became a hub for area Latinos to convene and discuss matters facing their expanding community. Issues such as language barriers, employment and education were repeated themes in discussions. A need was rapidly developing bringing about the birth of the Virginia Hispanic Chamber and Foundation.
The Chamber's programs aim to strengthen the minority business sector and ultimately aid economic growth within Virginia. The ultimate goal is to connect the community with the vibrancy and richness of the Latino culture while reaffirming that the Commonwealth of Virginia is a great place to live and work for all.
The non-profit affiliate of the chamber, the Virginia Hispanic Foundation (VAHF), was established in 2003, to provide the Hispanic community with education and information to successfully integrate themselves into the Commonwealth of Virginia. Together, the Chamber and Foundation play a role in over 150 events and workshops throughout the year to promote growth, visibility, and credibility for its members, Hispanic businesses, and the community at large.
The Foundations core programs include:
The Pasaporte A La Educación Initiative prepares Hispanic students to become leaders through mentoring, bilingual leadership lessons, pathways to higher education, and other resources.
The Business Center provides bilingual counseling/educational workshops to individuals interested in starting/growing their business.
TrabajaVA helps match regional employers with Hispanic job seekers.
Legal Aid Clinics helping low-income individuals with Immigration and Civil issues.