Latinitas is Celebrating 15 Years With a Quinceañera Gala


Latinitas to Celebrate 15 Years of Tech and Media Education and Girl Empowerment at Quinceañera Gala

AUSTIN, TEXAS (May 22, 2017) – This year, Austin-based Latinitas – the only bilingual and bicultural magazine and digital media and technology nonprofit organization of its kind – will be celebrating its 15th anniversary as many Hispanic girls do – by having a Quinceanera!

Taking place on June 10, 2017, Latinitas’ Quinceañera Gala Presented by Dell EMC will be a modern, chic twist on the Latin American tradition, featuring a choreographed dance, fine photography with a transformation theme for sale, a live and silent auction, tequila tastings and signature cocktails, and cuisine from Mexico’s interior. The Peligrosa-All Star DJs will be performing that night, as well as Stephanie Bergara – lead singer of Selena-cover band Bidi Bidi Banda – and Mayor Steve Adler will be stopping by to say a few words. Colorful cocktail attire and quinceañera dresses are encouraged!

Latinitas will be honoring our “Campeones” – people who have “championed” Latinitas’ mission since its origin through their work and dedication. These honorees include: Producer/Vice President at Troublemaker Studios Elizabeth Avellan; former Austin City Council Member Mike Martinez; Senior Vice President of Univision LA – ATX Luis Patino and his wife Alina; media scholar Dr. Federico Subervi-Velez; and Dell Marketing Director, North America Commercial, Ana Villegas. Quince_Splash_995x600_revised

Latinitas’ signature photography sale at the event welcomes contributions from world-class photographers such as Dulce Pinzon, whose work was featured at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and Danielle Villasana, whose long-term project, “A Light Inside” on the life-threatening challenges trans women face throughout Latin America will be featured at the World Press Photo Festival this year.

“We couldn’t have picked a better theme than a quinceañera to celebrate the impact of Latinitas over the past 15 years. Girls transform in Latinitas, they find their voice and a transcendent support system,” said Laura Donnelly, co-founder and CEO. “As an organization, we have reached an exciting precipice of growth that includes stretching our program reach to new spaces – we are that girl who has grown up and is now ready to conquer new frontiers!”

Originated by the Aztecs, the quinceañera was a rite of passage for girls into warrior-hood that has evolved through the century to denote a girl’s transformation into womanhood. At 15 years old, her maturity and growth is acknowledged by her family and other loved ones through a variety of rituals. Although the tradition is not new, quinceañeras are still wildly popular among young girls of Latin American heritage and the parties have become more extravagant over time.

Latinitas’ magazine, still the only publication made for and by young Latinas, was founded in a class at the University of Texas at Austin in 2002 by then-students Alicia Rascon and Laura Donnelly, fed up with the lack and misrepresentation of Latinas in media and technology. The two also developed dozens of no- or low-cost after-school clubs, weekend workshops, camps, and conferences at 112 schools, libraries, public housing sites, and community centers, as well as dozens more in Central and West Texas. Latinitas has provided over 25,000 girls ages nine through 18 with esteem-building lessons in media, technology, and cultural literacy. Latinitas is one of a handful of organizations delivering tech education in a bilingual and bicultural format nationally and the only nonprofit in Austin doing so for 15 years.

Tickets to the Quinceañera Gala are available for purchase at Proceeds will benefit Latinitas’ ongoing programs.  

Contact: Vicky Garza / 512-900-0304 /

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Latinitas, an Austin-based nonprofit organization, is dedicated to empowering Latina youth using media and technology, providing direct digital media and technology training and esteem-boosting services to nearly 3,500 girls and teens across Texas annually – 2,000 in Central and 1,500 more in West Texas. Latinitas envisions a future in which all Latinas are strong and confident in their image. Girls and families in Latinitas learn the latest Web 2.0 platforms to design websites, do graphic design, produce video, record audio, blog, do photography, invent social media campaigns, develop video games and mobile apps, coding and robotics ensuring new and diverse voices in media and technology. Latinitas also produces the only magazine of its kind, (25,000 monthly viewers), and its own social media network, (1,400 registered girls).

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Conferences and Workshops


Latinitas Startup Chica


Saturday, October 14, 2017

9am to 5pm

Cost: $15 / Lunch provided

Where: Capital Factory (701 Brazos Street, Austin, TX 78701)


Girls of all backgrounds between the ages of 9 and 18 will learn how to come up with innovative ideas to help solve social issues and turn them into products and apps that they will pitch to judges.

Latinitas is honored to have a special keynote speaker that the girls can really relate to: 13-year-old entrepreneur Mikaila Ulmer, Founder and CEO of Me & the Bees Lemonade, which can be found at Whole Foods Market and other natural food stores.

The full-day conference will take place on the first floor of Austin’s hub for innovation, Capital Factory (701 Brazos Street, Austin, TX 78701), which has played host to former President Barack Obama and Apple CEO Tim Cook. The girls will spend the day learning how to identify and solve problems, define their market, price and market their products, and present their ideas. The event will close with the girls pitching their ideas to a panel of Hispanic entrepreneurs. Parents are invited to attend a workshop in the morning on how to support their child’s entrepreneurial spirit.

The $15 cost of attendance includes lunch and materials, and will be waived for all Club Latinitas members. Financial assistance is also available for those who may require it. The event is sponsored by eBay, Bumble, HomeAway, Wells Fargo, the LevelUp Institute, Donn’s BBQ, and the City of Austin’s Economic Development Department Cultural Arts Division. Anyone interested in sponsorships can reach out to

Latinitas is still looking for helpers who can assist with event logistics and professionals who can serve as mentors for the girls. Interested volunteers can sign up here.



AUSTIN SUMMER CAMPS – July through August 2017, Monday – Friday from 9am to 4pm

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Cine Chica: July 10 – July 14

Fashion Forward: July 17 – July 21

Tech Chica: July 24 – July 28

Healthy Chica: July 31 – August 4

Camps are Monday-Friday from 9am to 4pm

Cost: $200 / Need-based scholarships are available

Where: 4926 East Cesar Chavez Street, Austin, TX 78702


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Saturday, April 15, 2017

9am to 4pm

Cost: $10 / Lunch provided

Where: 3401 Webberville Rd (ACC-Eastview Campus)

Girls will work with UX professionals to design their very own website. During lunch, girls will meet with local VR experts while experiencing virtual reality demonstrations.


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Tech Familia Digital Scrapbooking Workshop



Saturday, January 28, 2017 

10 am to 12 pm 

Cost: FREE for the whole family!

Where: 4926 E. Cesar Chavez St., Austin, TX 78702


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Latinitas Tech Familia Workshop: Create A Web App



Saturday, November 26th, 10 am to 12 pm 

Cost: FREE for the whole family!

Where: 4926 E. Cesar Chavez St., Austin, TX 78702


This Thanksgiving weekend, Latinitas invites all families to join in on some free fun at our next Tech Familia workshop. Create a web app for giving and learn about the powerful combination that is design/technology and philanthropy.

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Saturday, October 22nd 

9 am to 4 pm 

Cost: $10.00


This all day event will teach girls (ages 9-18) how to develop their own entrepreneur venture ideas from start to pitch by creating a business plan and marketing campaign with the assistance of mentors with the end of day goal to present to real investors!

WHERE:  Austin Community College Eastview Campus (3401 Webberville Road, Austin, TX)

For more information, call 512.900.0304 or email

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Saturday, November 12

10 am to 3 pm

WHAT: STEM Chica Conference: This STEM conference for girls will help local female pre-teen and teen girls to experience a real STEM job mentored by professionals in this leadership and science, technology, engineering and math career workshop.

WHEN: November 12 ( 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.)

WHERE: TecH20 Center (10751 Montana, El Paso, TX)

WHO: Latinitas, the American Association of University Women and the TecH20 Center are partnering to co-host the STEM Chica Conference. The STEM Chica conference is created especially for girls ages 9 and up with unique hands-on workshops, exhibits and panels.

WHY: The STEM Chica Conference is geared toward encouraging pre-teen and teen girls to aim high by setting high goals for themselves, achieving in academic realms and exploring STEM professional opportunities for their future success. Girls are invited to imagine their future STEM career and meet STEM role models. Workshops are led by professional women who are excited about sharing their careers with participants. STEM Chica features unique hands-on STEM workshops, activities and inspiring guest speakers.

REGISTER: Pre-registration is encouraged. For more information, call 219.8554, email or visit

For more information, call 915.219.8554 or

Pasadena, TX

I grew up in Pasadena, a city on the outskirts of Houston. My childhood memories make my hometown so special to me. Pasadena is where I had friends and family within walking distance, and I first learned how to drive on its streets.
There is a majority of Hispanics who live in Pasadena, so people share similar values and traditions, such as making tamales for Christmas. The urban setting is more active than a country setting, and you find people walking the streets to the grocery store, to the apartments, or wherever else they need to be. There are street vendors at many corners, selling juicy watermelons or beautiful flowers, and strip malls where you can find good bargains. My favorite restaurants are those that serve fresh-made food, not fast food. La Hacienda, or “my mom’s friend’s restaurant” as me and my three sisters like to call it, has great food at a low price. Nearby, you can satisfy your sweet tooth at El Nopal Bakery. This panaderia and pasteleria has it all: pastries, cookies, frozen ice cream bars, tres leches cake, churros, flan, capirotada (a bread pudding). The huge cake for the quinceñeria of each girl in the family, I had no brothers, came from El Nopal.
The best things to do in my hometown are going out to restaurants, shopping, or visiting places in Downtown Houston. The Metrorail will take you where you want to go, when you figure out the how the transportation system works. There are plenty of events to go to, whether it’s a volunteer activity, concert, or sports game. I have seen the Houston Dynamo play soccer and frequently go to the Toyota Center basketball court to cheer on my favorite sports team, the Houston Rockets.

You can find fun things to do inside the city as well. Neighborhood Network is a huge event for the community. People can meet, eat, and have fun. And kids can have a great time at the petting zoo, train rides, and a bunch of games including a life-size chess board. There is a rodeo on the Pasadena Fairgrounds, the Strawberry Parade, and the Christmas Lighting in front of city hall.

The weather is hot and humid, because it is so close to the gulf coast. People usually go to the beach in Galveston or visit Moody Gardens during vacations. Visitors should take a trip to the San Jacinto Monument, the world’s tallest war memorial at 570 feet high and a 220-ton, 34-foot high star on top. The monument is part of the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, located along the Houston Ship Channel. This historic landmark honors those who fought for Texas’ Independence and the Texas lone star on top commemorates the site of the Battle of San Jacinto, an important battle during the Texas Revolution. There is a museum at the base of the monument, a nice park and huge lake where people can relax, and a battleship tour available for visitors.

Pasadena High School, the school I attended, also has a lot of hometown history behind it. It is 50 years old and has seen big storms, renovations, and much school spirit also known as “eagle pride.” Some alumni became world war veterans, who are still honored in special school events.

I lived in Pasadena for almost 18 years and have moved since then. Although my family and I live 30 minutes away, I still feel like I am part of Pasadena. Who you are with and how your time is spent is a big part of your life experience. Any place can be special as long as you try to make it fun!

I still go back to Pasadena occasionally, when I want great Mexican food or some delectable donuts.

February 2011