Tampa, FL – Edward Reyes understands the meaning of hard work. He worked his way through law school, first earning a degree in business administration at the University of South Florida and then his Doctor of Jurisprudence from the West Michigan Cooley Law School without any outside financial assistance. That’s why he’s donated his time and mentorship skills to Enterprising Latinas, a Tampa-based nonprofit that creates pathways of opportunities for young Hispanic women through teaching them new skills, creating valuable networks of mutual support, and offering solutions for economic mobility and greater equality. Reyes couldn’t agree more on the incredible importance of its mission.
Founded in 2009 and in operations since 2014, Enterprising Latinas is a women of color-led organization that recognizing the social inequities driving the gap in wages and wealth for women. They believe that when marginalized populations of women do well, their families also flourish.
“Unfortunately, many low-income women are stuck in low-wage jobs, are inadequately prepared for college, and suffer the toxic stress that comes with poverty,” said Liz Gutierrez, Founder and CEO of Enterprising Latinas. “Professionals like Edward Reyes helps our girls see that there is a path to success, and he teaches them about the impact entrepreneurship can have on their lives.”
Reyes once found himself in a very similar situation that many of the young women Enterprising Latinas are now facing. He was a teen dad at 17, and he and his wife had to face the realities of raising a family at such a young age. A self-taught businessman, Reyes found himself opening his own health care clinic at the age of 21. He worked his way through Hillsborough Community College and the University of South Florida and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in 2008. At the age of 38, Reyes passed the Florida Bar exam and began practicing civil litigation—primarily personal injury and business law.
“I know how hard the climb is for these young women,” said Reyes. “I didn’t have a hand up, but I’m making sure they do when they need it most. It’s very rewarding.”
Such mentorship is especially important in the Hispanic community. Latinas make only 54 cents for every dollar earned by white male counterparts in the workplace. Florida has the third largest Latino population in the U.S., yet it has the second lowest median household income of any racial group in Florida. Last year, Enterprising Latinas served 238 with mobility mentoring and case management support and helped 217 of its members complete education and training courses. They also connected 500 households to their Internet services, which had a profound effect on the success of the whole family.
“In my own personal experience as a daughter of an immigrant woman, and as a mother myself, I know that when women do well economically, they invest in their families, and their contributions strengthen our economy, the local community, and our society,” said Gutierrez.
What advice does Reyes offer these young Latinas?
“There’s no shortcuts. To be successful in life, you have to be persistent and willing to work hard. If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room,” said Reyes.
About The Reyes Firm: The Reyes Firm helps individuals and families by providing exceptional legal representation, regardless of legal dilemma. We achieve this commitment to our clients through diligent representation, zealous advocacy, and constant communication. The Reyes Firm values family which is why they run their practice like one. The company is founded upon the pillars of diversity, respect, transparency, and integrity. To learn more, visit www.thereyesfirm.com.
About Enterprising Latinas: Their approach is to work with individual women reflects their organization’s commitment to help all women regardless of race or ethnicity to increase their economic prosperity and ensure their rights and equality. In the international women’s economic development field this is known as the 3A’s of women’s economic empowerment—Agency to help women identify their passion, pathway and purpose; Assets to provide resources to help women succeed, and Access to help women forge new relationships that provide better access to the market place, capital, and other resources. To learn more, visit www.enterprisinglatinas.org