Washington, D.C. (January 25, 2012) – The National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, announced that its American Latino Heritage Fund will pursue a comprehensive set of initiatives critical to raising the profile of American Latino heritage and increasing Latinos’ attendance at national parks and participation in preserving historic places nationwide. Formed in 2011, the American Latino Heritage Fund (ALHF) is dedicated to strategically integrating and celebrating the cultural, economic, and civic contributions of Latinos in the American story as told throughout the national park system and in historic places across the country.
“American Latinos have played a pivotal role in shaping this country,” said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “We are proud to lead the charge in creating a movement to protect and preserve this rich culture and reaffirm our commitment to fully represent the nation’s diverse cultural groups and their role in our national park system.”
The new initiatives include:
The American Latino Theme Study
ALHF is sponsoring the American Latino Theme Study, which seeks to elevate the national dialogue on the role of American Latinos in the development of the nation. The first iteration of the theme study, to be released in June of 2012, will be a living document that will cover Latina/o history since the 15th century. Led by the National Park Service and a team of Latino scholars, the theme study will serve as a national model for future reports examining ethnic groups’ participation in American history. It will also play a vital role in identifying and evaluating locations relevant to Latino contributions, and of historical significance, for the National Register of Historic Places and for National Historic Landmark designation.
Designation of American Latino Landmarks and Historic Sites
The 2010 census counted 50.5 million Latinos in the US. Yet despite a 400-year history in North America and the existence of vibrant communities throughout the United States, only 3% of the 86,000 sites on the National Register of Historic Places explicitly recognize and celebrate our country’s ethnically diverse cultures. The National Park Foundation’s ALHF will seek to assist the National Park Service in its efforts to identify, document, nominate, and preserve historic places highlighting Latino contributions. In an effort to involve the Latino community in the process, members of the public are also encouraged to participate in this effort by visiting the National Park Service’s designated website for related American Latino Heritage projects.
Nationwide Youth Summits
The American Latino Heritage Fund is supporting the National Park Service and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation on a youth summit in Washington State involving Latino students and teachers later this year. The summit is designed to educate and involve younger generations in historic preservation in their communities, and will equip teachers and preservation organizations with the tools needed to motivate and engage Latino youth on stewardship of historic places and national parks.
“The Foundation’s American Latino Heritage Fund is proud to play a vital role in the successful implementation of programs of such national and wide-ranging significance,” said Midy Aponte, interim executive director of ALHF. “We must reflect the true diversity of the American experience and preserve the full story of our country’s natural, cultural and historical treasures.”
The National Park Foundation’s American Latino Heritage Fund joins the Foundation’s African American Experience Fund in its priority to provide the most inclusive and comprehensive telling of American history throughout the growing park system.