About Us

Empowering Latino Futures (ELF), formerly Latino Literacy Now, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was founded in 1997 and is headquartered in North San Diego County. Every day we build on more than 20 years of experience working with the Latino community to bring a combination of innovative, educational, and culturally relevant resources to this diverse community. To address the array of needs, we have developed a variety of programs that focus on lowering barriers by increasing access to education and uplifting Latino voices and talent. ELF believes that an individual’s potential for greatness is only limited by their access to resources and support.



Our mission is to remove barriers to educational and professional success for Latinos, Latinas, and other underserved communities by creating products, services, content, partnerships, and programs that lead to equal opportunity for all.



A world where inclusion and equity principles grant everyone access to educational, community-building, and empowerment programs, as well as opportunities to pursue their professional dreams.


The organization started as a collective effort of various individuals seeking equal opportunities for all. Frustrated that no large, public events specifically targeted the needs of the Latino community, actor Edward James Olmos, Kirk Whisler, and other community members created the first Latino Book & Family Festival in 1997 in Los Angeles. The event drew 16,242 attendees and helped open the doors to new kinds of events focused on providing helpful resources for individuals and families in the Latino community. From this event, ELF was founded.

Over the years, ELF has grown to include a range of programs focused on empowering the Latino community. This includes developing and distributing educational resources as well as bringing together community members, experts on educational topics, and authors to promote reading and education and lift up Latino talent. Since 1997, our programs have been utilized by 1.7 million people and have directly impacted the lives of an estimated 7,500 people.


This 2020 was a year of many challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a big transition to the digital world. All our physical programs were postponed/cancelled and moved to a virtual setting, but this transition opened the doors to new audiences online and a new way of creating events. Using the learnings from 2020, we believe our programs will strengthen and use this opportunity to provide more opportunities

Year in Review

Empowering Latino Futures Board

Kirk Whisler, Board President

Edward James Olmos, Board Chair

Julia Abrantes, VP of Author Programs

Dr. Julian Nava, VP of Education Programs

Edward Becerra, Education Begins in the Home, Program Director

Board Members: Rene Aguilera, Katharine A. Díaz, Victor Gonzalez, Lisa Montes, Martin Valdez

View ELF board bio’s >

Our Team

Kirk Whisler, Board President

(760) 579-1696,  kirk@whisler.com

Andres Tobar, Director of Development

(202) 841-7988‬, development@empoweringlatinofutures.org


Edward Becerra, Education Begins in the Home, Program Director

(760) 681-9950, EducationBeginsInTheHome@gmail.com

Yenni Patiño, Award Programs support

(760) 645-3455, awards@empoweringlatinofutures.org

Melanie Slone, Editor, Consultant, Translator


Ericka Benitez, Financial Services Support

Callie Gass, Empowering Latino Students Initiative Grant writer

Thornton Sully, Grants Seeker

Author Programs Committee & Leaders

Nora de Hoyos Comstock, Julia Abrantes, Norma de la Peña, Rosa Hernandez-Allen, Al Gonzalez, Katharine Diaz, Jose Chavez.

Festival Program Committee & Leaders

Alina Gonzalez, Beatriz Palmer, Georgette Baker, Monica Chapa-Domercq, Diana Minuzzi, Gaby Beas, Jonathan Gomez, Lilibeth Resendiz, Lisa Montes, Cesar Caballero.

Empowering Latino Students Support

Andres Tobar, Callie Gass, Karen Arter



624 Hillcrest Ln.

Fallbrook, CA 92028

Federal Tax ID #33-0868486


fax: 760-434-7476