Our History

Mesa Latina is a grassroots civic engagement people's movement under the umbrella of Pillsbury United Communities-Waite House. As an evolving movement, it is rooted in the Latinx community and it has an advisory board made of Latinx representing the metro and rural cities across the state of Minnesota. At its core, Mesa Latina was established in 2012 as a vehicle to give greater voice and power to Latinx who seemingly fell outside of the orbit of the local political/decision-making processes and wanted to put their leadership skills to action. During this 4-year period, Mesa Latina has inspired a significant number of Minnesota Latinxs and others to become civically engaged in the political process.

Our purpose is to build a better future for Latinos in Minnesota by fostering leadership development, elevating community voices, and partnering with like-minded community groups to advocate for policies that affect our lives.

Established in 1879, Pillsbury United Communities (PUC) has a 137-year history of service in Minneapolis. With a mission of increasing choice, inspiring change, and strengthening connections, PUC’s multi-service neighborhood centers serve as hubs for community building and cultural and linguistically appropriate information and resources that build social and economic capital in low-income communities. Since the 1960’s, Pillsbury Waite House has served as the agency and city’s hub for services to an extremely diverse community in South Minneapolis and more recently a highly concentrated Latinx community. Waite House’s staff and volunteers engage more than 8,000 residents annually in robust programming in six impact areas. Pillsbury Waite House is well known for its efforts in infusing social justice and action within a human service delivery framework. Mesa Latina is an excellent example of how Waite House has supported community members to change the conditions that limit people’s choices.

In its short existence and with limited resources, Mesa Latina has been instrumental on the following issues:
  • Supporting the Dream Act legislature: Minnesota undocumented Students who meet the criteria in the MN Dream Act will be eligible to apply for the following benefits: In-state resident tuition rates at Minnesota public colleges and universities. Minnesota state financial aid available to students who meet state residency requirements. Privately funded financial aid through Minnesota public colleges and universities. Dream Act legislature became law in 2013.
  • Re-instating access to Driver’s License for all Minnesotans. Mesa Latina has been instrumental in leading efforts to re-instate driver’s license to all Minnesota residents, regardless of immigration status.
  • Access to Citizenship: Mesa Latina has been working with other coalitions to push for dignified immigration reform, which includes pathways toward citizenship.
  • Racial Equity and Inclusion: Mesa Latina is working with other coalitions to push for greater racial equity and inclusion in many different areas of the state.
  • Health Insurance Access: Mesa Latina is leading a campaign to promote greater access to health insurance and healthcare.
  • Supporting Latinx leaders in the metro and rural communities to engage their municipalities to become inclusive cities.
  • Engaging with other communities, whom like Latinx, have been historically and intentionally deprived of accessing the benefits of the collective wealth created by all members of the society.