NHI is a leading organization that fosters future community leaders for the expanding Latino community throughout the United States and Latin America.


NHI creates experiences that engage achieving high school and college age youth in community leadership roles that advance our quality of life.


 Leadership and community social entrepreneurship are used as transformational learning experiences that compel young people to envision themselves as having important roles to play as leaders, and that demand academic excellence and commitment to personal development.


NHI establishes the means to attract and engage high potential students in learning experiences that inspire their imagination, develop their repertoire of skills and competencies, broaden their knowledge of Latino culture and make community leadership a life-long learning commitment.

Additional Historical Background

The National Hispanic Institute (NHI) has a 36-year history of designing, testing, and researching self-transformational leadership concepts and experiences. This work is central to the organization’s efforts to strengthen the reservoir of skilled and educated young people from which the organized sectors of Latino community life is able to select its future leaders.

The idea of creating a leadership pipeline originated as a result of numerous discussions that took place between 1977 and 1979. At that time part of the operating beliefs of the organization was guided by two views:


• First, the leadership infrastructure in the U.S. Latino community had been severely weakened from the drain and intensity of the 1960s Civil Rights era.

• Second, because of that time, the community was now faced with an aging leadership base no longer capable of sustaining the emotionally and mentally exhausting requirements of social change.

 Other concerns revolved around the “leadership brain-drain” that could potentially occur as upwardly mobile Latino youth increased their numbers in college, and began leaving their respective communities to expand career and business opportunities elsewhere. In addition, the rapid expansion and diversity of the Latino community in different regions of the nation was also a concern. The challenge was that though this evolving population of Latinos had the capacity to become a formidable force in U.S. life, it lacked the critical mass of potential leaders and the support of organizations in the community to make planned growth possible.

Adding to the complexity of issues was the organization’s policy to be self-sustaining, and therefore not primarily seek grant funds from either private or public sources. This decision was driven by a philosophical view that if NHI was to survive, the value of its work was embedded and embraced by the very communities it purported to serve.

The charge of the National Hispanic Institute became one of imagining, researching, and testing different responses to the challenges enumerated above through various community interventions.

After an effort to critically review the community relevance, value and sustainability of many pilot projects, it was determined that the mission of NHI would be to concentrate efforts on high school age youth who were not only intent on pursuing college studies, but were also best suited intellectually for the eventualities of community leadership. The development of a pedagogy with the capacities to establish and engage students in extended periods of self-learning, and the tools for self-assessment and self-change became the greatest challenge for NHI.