All About CHISPA Maryland

Chispa, meaning “spark” in Spanish, is a program launched by Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund in 2014. Chispa Maryland works to ensure that Maryland Latino families and community leaders are a powerful voice for protecting our air, land, water, public health, and future. Chispa Maryland works with Latino families, community groups, faith-based organizations, and elected officials to identify and address unique environmental issues facing Latino communities in Maryland.

OUR MISSION

Chispa Maryland builds the capacity of Latinos and families to influence policy makers and pressure polluters to protect communities’ rights to clean air and water, healthy neighborhoods, and a safe climate for generations to come.

BACKGROUND

With more than 53 million Latinos currently living in our country, their cultural and political influence continues to grow. Latinos are a diverse and vibrant community who share a common interest in protecting our environment and our health. Polls show that Latinos strongly support policies to mitigate climate change and reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere with nine out of ten Latinos supporting government initiatives to reduce adverse effects of climate change and environmental pollution, regardless of political affiliation. Latinos are sending a strong message to our legislators -YES WE CARE!

However, despite their strong support for environmental protection, Latinos remain underrepresented in the environmental movement and the health of their families continues to be disproportionally affected by poor environmental conditions. Latino children are almost twice more likely to be hospitalized with asthma than white children. In addition, pregnant women and children suffer from lead poisoning, and other contaminants in the air and drinking water at higher rates. In many communities, problems are compounded by the lack of environmental health education, civic engagement, and availability of language and culturally competent resources.

For more information on the Latino Outreach Program, please contact Ramon Palencia-Calvo at rpcalvo@mdlcv.org or (202) 531-5091.

 

WHAT WE DO

Chispa Maryland works with community leaders and organizations to include voices of the Latino community in the fight to protect the environment. Chispa Maryland advocates for environmental justice in low-income communities and communities of color, which are often the most affected by environmental issues.

Chispa Maryland plans educational activities, field trips, clean-ups, among other activities, to work with the Latino community on issues that are affecting them locally, statewide, and nationally. We create family-centered events that give opportunities for Latinos to discuss issues that affect their everyday lives. In addition, Chispa Maryland also participates in community events and festivals that celebrate Latino heritage and community.

Some of our past events include:

  • Educational fieldtrips to the Anacostia River 
  • Workshops at schools and community centers: through workshops, we have discussed the importance of protecting the environment while connecting this to health and social justice.
  • Festival del Rio: In 2016, Chispa Maryland and other partnering organizations organized a festival for the Anacostia River which aimed to be an inclusive environment for the Latino community in Maryland. This event featured Latino traditional music, food and tables featuring environmental organizations.
  • Community Clean-ups: Latino communities have engaged in cleaning up their neighborhoods, parks, schools and local rivers and streams.