Top Latino grassroots organization seeks to expand its reach

Mi Familia Vota, a Latino political organization known for its voter turnout efforts, is aggressively expanding its reach as an issues-based advocacy group and as a political clearinghouse to quantify, reach and promote the Latino vote.

Mi Familia Vota President and CEO Héctor Sánchez Barba, at the helm since 2019, told The Hill the group has transitioned from energizing voters to participate in support of partisan political agendas, to generating and promoting a tailor-made agenda for Hispanic communities.

“Mi Familia Vota has the largest and most sophisticated field and political operation in the nation,” Sánchez said.

“We have been investing heavily to build the national staffing of our national office to serve the field operations in 10 states.”

The organization, long known for its ability to reach voters in communities that are often ignored by national campaigns, is building on that infrastructure to generate actionable data from that contact with voters.

Where many grassroots organizations might distribute mailers and execute door-knocking campaigns, Sánchez said Mi Familia Vota is looking to make those interactions a two-way street, collecting voter data but also policy priorities at the individual voter level.

“What we also have been investing very heavily is on data research and innovation. It’s a department that has grown – everything in the organization is implemented and led with data at the center. Very strong research in heavy investment in innovation. We do a lot of testing to better use the data and for a better understanding of what works in the community.”

With that approach, Sánchez is seeking to make Mi Familia Vota an indispensable stop for campaigns reaching out to Latino voters.

Latino political groups have long complained that national political campaigns leave Hispanic outreach, particularly toward more isolated communities, until the last minute before elections.

That approach has at least two negative effects: It drives lower voter turnout, and it locks those communities into a take-it-or-leave-it choice on policy proposals.

“Something that is very important and it hasn’t been done before, at Mi Familia Vota we’re gonna do very strong early investment on messaging and paid media,” Sánchez said.

“And this is Mi Familia Vota going early on to send a clear message that we’re not gonna wait for the late investment. We must change those practices: If we want the Latino vote, we need to start early.”

The organization’s larger footprint also comes with bigger costs, but Sánchez said the policy advocacy approach also drives financial independence.

“We as an organization have been diversifying drastically our funding from small donations in the communities, individual donors, to foundations to all the different infrastructures. So we don’t depend on political money to drive our operations. We also driven by issue advocacy, which was more flexibility and stability as an organization, and that gives us stronger possibilities to be advocates on the issues,” Sánchez said.

Along with the group’s structural changes, Mi Familia Vota announced Thursday a rebranding, including new graphic design for the group’s logos and public image.

But Sánchez said the group’s roots in direct contact with Latino voters will remain at the core of Mi Familia Vota’s mission.

“We know that the field operations are the most important part to mobilize the Latino community. We are at the doors. We are at the supermarkets, we are in the communities. We hire local people and we build the local leadership to organize and build momentum. That is what makes a difference in elections and we all know that. But at the same time, we are building an infrastructure that is way more sophisticated.”

—Updated at 3:50 p.m.

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