For this month’s partner spotlight, we’re joined by Robespierre Reyes Pineda who is a founding member and the Interim Executive Director of the American Mexican Association (AMA). Originally from Mexico, Robespierre immigrated to the United States a few years ago. He and his colleagues felt they needed a community — Hispanics make up a large portion of the Bay Area, but aren’t represented. Robespierre founded the AMA, along with 30 other Mexican American leaders from across the U.S., with the goal of promoting their community’s contributions and connections within his community.
Robespierre recently sat down with us to dig into the AMA’s goals, their history, and how individuals can get involved.
What does the American Mexican Association do and how do you achieve these objectives?
We connect communities of Mexican origin in the United States under one unified, collaborative network that promotes their valuable contributions to the country.
We currently have two programs running. First is a series of webinars by experts on priority issues for our communities, such as mental health. Mental health is very stigmatized in the Hispanic community right now and we saw an opportunity to help those individuals.
I recently cycled from the North Pole, Alaska to Tijuana, Mexico just to raise awareness about mental health in our community. That sparked a conversation around mental health. I didn’t realize it was an issue as human beings. I began talking about my resilience, my response to mental illness, and my journey. Individuals began reaching out to us via social media and through members across the United States.
We wanted to educate about mental illness but also build a community to embrace and support each other. How can we get through this? The only way is by helping each other and sharing our stories. It’s not just us — Mexican Americans or immigrants in the US. Other communities have reached out to me to collaborate on delivering resources to more individuals.
The second program we’re working on right now that I’m very proud of is a Data Analytics fellowship for BIPOC communities which will begin in the fall.
We achieve these objectives through strategic partnerships and the power of social media. As a young organization, we rely on our members’ networks and talents since we bring together Mexican American leaders in every field: medicine, business, education, finance, you name it.
Who are your members within your community?
Our members and donors are small businesses, chambers of commerce, academic institutions, doctors, researchers, entrepreneurs, scientists, teachers, chefs, friends of our Mexican American community in the US, and many more.
When we say Mexican American, we’re talking about first, second, third, and fourth-generation immigrants. Somehow, they’re in a situation where they don’t fit completely as Americans but don’t feel like they’re fully Mexicans in this country.
One of our biggest challenges is understanding how to reach out to both the older generation and the youth. They both get their news in different ways. The mindset is different because of the stigma and how they feel they’ll be treated in the United States. The older generation is typically trying not to be known. Most of the time in these circumstances, they don’t feel welcome in this country.
On the other hand, the youth are promoting our programs and are the biggest donors right now. They are the ones convincing the older generation to come together as a community. At the end of the day, we’re humans — we’re the same.
Just because it’s the AMA doesn’t mean we’re just for Mexican Americans or individuals of Mexican descent. We’re inclusive! We’re friends of everyone in this country and friends of people in Mexico. We’re friends, we have the same values, and we’re going through the same mission on this planet.
What is the most impactful thing the American Mexican Association has done in the past?
The mission of our organization is to let the entire United States know that Mexican Americans are contributing to the economy, culture, innovation, and society every day. We’re not just farmers. We’re chefs, we’re scientists, we went to space! Mexican Americans represent 80% of the Latinx population in the US, and as Hispanics, we had a $1.45 trillion purchasing power in 2020 and growing. So we’re sharing our stories every single day.
We recently announced our great goal of helping 300 vulnerable families that needed essential goods such as food due to COVID-19, specifically farm workers. That’s something we are very proud of. We are thankful for our partnership with Karma Action to achieve this.
We are also very proud to have held a series of three webinars in Spanish. Across the series, we discussed the effects of the pandemic on the mental health of the Latinx community, the effect on Latinx youth, and practical tools and best practices to improve our mental health as we navigate this public health and economic crisis.
What has the fundraising process looked like for the American Mexican Association?
Our donations come from small donors nowadays. We’ve been using online platforms for our fundraising needs. We hope that people see value in our programs and the importance of investing in the only national organization by and for Mexican Americans in the U.S.
When it comes to fundraising, our biggest challenge is promoting our campaign and getting data in real-time to take action accordingly.
For other nonprofits looking to fundraise, I’d suggest having a solid and committed team, then developing a strategic plan with all metrics and a goal in mind, it will help you achieve your fundraising goal. I’d also add a good communication (PR) plan.
We’ve also started collaborating with other organizations working toward the same mission — we’re not competing against each other; we’re in the same boat. Something I found interesting is reaching out to nonprofits who have the same or similar missions and sharing what has worked in the past for both of us and what hasn’t. Together, we can solve even more problems.
What is the impact of a financial donation made to the American Mexican Association?
The impact for the American Mexican Association has been invaluable because we’ve helped individuals with our programs that not only have improved their current financial situation but their mental health caused by the current pandemic. Every contribution keeps us going, especially as we begin to take off as a nonprofit organization.
Donations go to families who need these resources right now. The proceeds from my cycling trip all went to families struggling to make ends meet. We provided food to their tables. We decided to provide all our donations to them since they were the ones working full-time while we were stuck at home.
What does the future of the American Mexican Association look like?
We are doing unique research within our community on who may be left behind because of the pandemic in the coming months and years. We’re talking with individuals who may not be returning to their previous roles. Many jobs will disappear — not because of technological advances but because of the pandemic.
We’re trying to understand how the economy has shifted after the pandemic and how we can provide resources to our community to up-life, up-skill, and be part of these remote-friendly work environments. For individuals who cannot get back to their jobs, we’ll provide roles that could be more attractive to them in the future.
Right now, we’re in the process of getting that data. It’s been 15 months already, so we’re hoping to build a strong model and provide those resources in the future.
We are positive we can be recognized not only as nonprofit but as a network of networks in the US. We aim to continue collaborating with all communities of Mexican origin and provide resources that improve our economy and our society as humans. We hope that our children, the next generations of Mexican Americans, will have a powerful voice in this country and that their contributions will not only be recognized but undisputed.
What’s the best way for individuals to get involved with & support the American Mexican Association?
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