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HPGM receives $350K grant to uplift the next generation of Hispanic and Latino leaders

HPGM executive director Francesca Mayca Wegner, says the $350K grant gives HPGM the means to operate in a new and broader capacity.
Miranda & Adam Kneeland
HPGM executive director Francesca Mayca Wegner, says the $350K grant gives HPGM the means to operate in a new and broader capacity.

Hispanics and Latinos are the fastest-growing racial and ethnic minority populations in Wisconsin, and the rapid growth is also dynamically changing the work and labor percentages.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that Hispanic Americans will account for about 78% of new national workers in this decade. As this percentage is reflected in Southeast Wisconsin, one local group is prepared to equip and support this next generation of Wisconsin Hispanic and Latino professionals.

The Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee (HPGM) is a group dedicated to supporting and advancing Hispanics and Latinos in Wisconsin by catalyzing professional and educational achievement. They plan to catapult Hispanics and Latinos into senior and executive positions across all sectors in the area.

After multiple years of collaboration, HPGM was recently gifted a $350,000 multi-year commitment from Bader Philanthropies to assist in their goal of serving Hispanics and Latinos of Southeastern Wisconsin. According to HPGM's executive director Francesca Mayca Wegner, the gift allows the organization to operate in a new and broader capacity.

Mayca Wegner details that HPGM will implement a two-year strategic plan to address three primary focuses: financial sustainability, programming, and strategic partnerships to enhance systems and infrastructure. Like many organizations in the post-pandemic era, HPGM is reevaluating how they're structured, its goals moving forward and other pertinent topics.

"This new, two-year plan is really going to help strengthen and help us answer some of those questions. We've existed for over 22 years as an organization, but it's also going to help us bring us into the next 22 years of HPGM," says Mayca Wegner. The gift also allows the organization to expand its operations and team.

The significance of the gift becomes evident when analyzing typical philanthropic advocation. The HPGM found that between the United States and Latin America, approximately 1% of philanthropic investments go to Latino or serving organizations. However, Hispanic or Latino people make up 20% of the United States population. This gift ensures that a considerably large and continually growing portion of the labor force is equipped and prepared to contribute significantly to the workforce.

HPGM is also working to increase economic opportunity and representation for Hispanic and Latino professionals, as these groups are consistently underrepresented in most fields on a national scale. "We want to make sure we're expanding those opportunities," explains Mayca Wegner. "What we look to do is to connect and convene so that no matter what industry you're in, we're working for you to have access to the network and the resources you need to reach your highest potential."

Mayca Wegner says that a stronger Hispanic and Latino community has far-reaching societal positive impacts.

"We want to ensure that there's equity in the access that exists for professional and academic achievement. Not only for Latinos but any communities of color that have historically been underrepresented under resourced, marginalized, [and] systemically excluded," says Mayca Wegner. "As one community grows in a city of majority-minority, we know that allows shared prosperity for everyone. So, that's really our vision: is a Wisconsin where Latinos can reach their fullest potential for themselves and their communities, and that becomes the catalyst for generational change."


Mallory Cheng was a Lake Effect producer from 2021 to 2023.
Rob is All Things Considered Host and Digital Producer.
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