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The Reverend Luis Cortés, Jr. is the President and CEO of Esperanza, the premiere Hispanic faith-based Evangelical network in the United States. Driven by the biblical mandate to serve and advocate for “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40), the underserved and marginalized in our society, Rev. Cortés founded Esperanza in 1987 with support from the Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia. Today, with a national network of over 13,000 Hispanic faith and community based organizations, Esperanza is one of the leading voices for Latinos in America. What began as a local initiative, with programs targeted to address the many unmet needs of the Philadelphia Latino community, has grown from a 20 person operation in 2001 to 350 employees and a $35 million annual operating budget.
Currently Esperanza’s Philadelphia operations include two Esperanza Academy Charter Schools (grades 6-12), Esperanza Cyber Charter School (grades 6-12), Esperanza College, homebuilding, mortgage counseling, and employment training programs. A leader in building vibrant Hispanic communities, Rev. Cortés is creating a Latino Corridor in North Philadelphia that is transforming vacant lots and abandoned buildings into a vibrant neighborhood and commercial sector.
On a national level, Esperanza has many successful initiatives that range from education and training services for at-risk and adjudicated Latino youth, mentoring, healthy marriage programs, teen pregnancy prevention, HIV/AIDS education, hunger and nutrition initiatives, climate change education, and providing capacity building and technical assistant to faith and community-based organizations. Esperanza has invested $13 million in sub-grants to 500 organizations.
Rev. Cortés graduated with honors from City College, NY, earned a Masters of Divinity as an Urban Theology Fellow from Union Theological Seminary, and an MS in Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University. Rev. Cortés has received three Honorary Doctorates: Two in Divinity, from the Moravian Theological Seminary and Palmer Theological Seminary, and one in Humane Letters from Eastern University.
Since 2001, Rev. Cortés and Esperanza have hosted the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast and Conference (NHPBC). The event gathers over 700 Latino faith and community leaders in Washington, D.C., making it one of the largest conveners of Hispanic Clergy from across the nation. The event features prominent speakers from both the Republican and the Democratic parties and has been keynoted by President George W. Bush on six occasions, President Barack Obama twice, and Vice President Joe Biden.
Listed as one of Time magazine’s 50 Most Influential Evangelicals in 2005, Rev. Cortés was a featured speaker at the National Prayer Service the morning after President George W. Bush’s 2005 inauguration. He also presented the Invocation Prayer at the Inauguration Luncheon for Barak Obama’s 2013 Inauguration Ceremony. He has appeared on several television, radio and print media outlets, including: Washington Week, Time, The Lehrer News Hour, The O’Reilly Factor, La Opinion, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and The Washington Post.
Through the years, Rev. Cortés has served on numerous boards dealing with finance; banking; religion; health; and education. Currently he is a board member of the Federal Home Bank of Pittsburgh; Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia; and Cancer Treatment Centers of America (Eastern Region).
He has written numerous articles and is the author of five books with Atria Books, a Simon and Schuster Corporation, which are available in English and Spanish.
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