Roots of Hope Press Kit

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Roots of Hope Press Kit 2013


In 2003, Cuban-American student groups at Harvard and Georgetown came together to establish Roots of Hope…

Today, our network encompasses a diverse group of students from over 55 universities and young professionals in Boston, Los Angeles, Madrid, Miami, New York and Washington D.C. We work to inspire young people across the globe to think about Cuba and proactively support our young counterparts on the island through innovative means.


Roots of Hope Press Kit 2013

Our mission is to empower youth in Cuba to become the authors of their own futures.

OUR VISION IS A DAY WHEN: Cuban youth are empowered with the skills and opportunities they deem necessary to make a successful future for themselves and their families in Cuba. Youth on the island can freely participate in open exchanges about their ideas, hopes, dreams, and realities. Cuban youth can act purposefully without repression and work toward rebuilding a civil society that respects the rights of every individual.

“Working with Roots of Hope has been The group’s support was a clear sign of


Juanes, singer-songwriter Photographs on this page © Anne Etienne and Used with by permission by Roots of Hope, Inc.


Roots of Hope Press Kit 2013




We work to inspire Cuban youth with hope that one day soon they will be free to participate in open exchanges about their ideas, dreams, and realities.


We work to promote awareness of Cuban issues, fostering compassion and a greater understanding of what day-to-day life is like for young people in Cuba.


We work to create new bridges and innovative ways to connect with those in Cuba, with the humility to understand that we don’t have all the answers but together we are stronger then we are apart.


We work to empower youth in Cuba with a strong sense of dignity, encouraging them to develop their own abilities and pursue their wildest dreams with confidence.

Photographs on this page (excluding photo 2) © Anne Etienne and Used with by permission by Roots of Hope, Inc.

Roots of Hope Press Kit 2013


ROOTS OF HOPE AT A GLANCE A student network with a historical presence at over A network of more than


students and young professionals aross the U.S. and around the world

Organized 10 major youth leadership conferences attended by over


university delegates

“Cell Phones for Cuba” has collected



Cell phones for youth in Cuba


From 2004-2008, facilitated universities

A dedicated management team of dozens of volunteers from over


US, European and Latin American metropolitan areas


live conference calls linking hundreds of youth in the U.S. and Cuba to discuss and share their ideas, stories, hopes and dreams

Since 2012, launched and organized


Advised 17-time Grammy Award winner Juanes and “Run for Roots” races assisted organizing peace concert in Cuba resulting in in Miami, Washington D.C.,and New York as well as facilitating runs in Cuba


Cubans in attendance (10% of Cuban population and 30% of Cuban youth)

“USBs for Cuba” has collected


of USB Drives for youth in Cuba

Roots of Hope Press Kit 2013


OUR HISTORY Our activities seek to bridge the gap between young Cubans on and off the island as well as raise awareness about the issues facing Cuban youth.

Paz Sin Fronteras:

Youth Leadership Conference at Georgetown University

National Youth Leadership Conference at University of Pennsylvania

Raíces de Esperanza coordinates Latin pop star Juanes’ peace concert in Havana, Cuba attracting some 1.1 million Cubans to the Plaza de la Revolución




“Cuba en el Siglo XXI” National






“Raíces de Esperanza”

“Juventud Despierta”


National Youth Leadership Conference at Harvard University

National Youth Leadership Conference at Princeton University

Publication of the Ex(Change) Guide outlining

National Youth Leadership Conference at Duke University

different ways young people outside of Cuba can connect with young people on the island both through virtual and direct means – in a socially responsible and legal way

Roots of Hope Press Kit 2013


“Transformación” National Youth Leadership Conference at

“GenerAcción – A Generation in Action” National Youth Leadership Conference at the University of Miami

Boston College — Launch of the US-

Cuba Fellowship Fund to sponsor

Cell Phones for Cuba campaign launched to empower Cuban youth and connectivity with Cuba

Raíces de Esperanza launches Run for Roots to raise awareness of the plight of youth in Cuba and as a symbol of solidarity



2010 Raíces de Esperanza organizes a peaceful march in Miami, Florida with

Gloria Estefan in solidarity with the Las Damas de Blanco (Ladies In White) and those who hunger for change in Cuba

and support academic, cultural, and humanitarian initiatives with young people in Cuba that are empowering and bridge divides

Roots of Hope hosted events and receptions with Yoani

Sanchez and Orlando Luis Pardo in both New York and Miami —

#Empowerment: Camino al Futuro National Youth Leadership Conference at New York University


2012 “eRevolution: Camino a una nueva era”

“Avenida Cuba” University Campus Tour

National Youth Leadership Conference at Cornel University

at Georgia Tech, University of Florida, University of South Florida, Miami Dade College, University of Virginia, University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard

USBs for Cuba: USBs have given indirect access to Internet to a small number of Cubans, USBs for Cuba aims to increase that number

Roots of Hope Press Kit 2013


OUR PROGRAMS We have more than 4,000 students and young professionals who, inspired by the Roots of Hope spirit, have launched individual and group initiatives to support our goal: to empower youth in Cuba to become the authors of their own futures.

TECHNOLOGY Cell phones for Cuba Roots of Hope has launched Cell Phones for Cuba, a program designed to boost the connectivity of young people on the island and promote greater communication throughout Cuba. The campaign will draw on our wide network of students and young professionals throughout the United States to bring about measurable improvements in the lives of Cuban youth. As of 2008, fewer than 3% of the Cuban population had access to cell phones. In other developing countries, cell phones have been used as a means of expression and empowerment.

USBs for Cuba The easy access and flow of information is something we can take for granted, but for many Cubans it is nothing but a dream. The use of USBs, known as “cargues”, is a way the Cuban people have overcome the obstacles of censorship, limited Internet access and poor connectivity. With limited access, the widespread use of USB drives allow for libraries of information – software, news, videos and pictures – to circulate throughout the island at astonishing speeds. This project aims to increase the availability of indirect Internet access by providing USBs to Cuban youth.

Translating Cuba Roots of Hope supports the efforts of TranslatingCuba. com. By translating blog posts into other languages, we hope to open a window to the world and audiences outside of Cuba to better understand the realities of life on the island. Blogs have become a way of expression around the world, but in Cuba they also lead to oppression. Countless Cuban journalists have been threatened and even incarcerated for the things they write online. Every day, bloggers risk their lives in an effort to educate the world and open a tiny window that gives you a taste of the real Cuba.

Roots of Hope Press Kit 2013


“[Roots of Hope] focuses on raising awareness about Cuba and


LINKS between Cuban-American youth and young people in Cuba.”

National Journal Magazine

NETWORK ENGAGEMENT Run for Roots Roots of Hope has launched, Run for Roots, a program that connects a diverse group of runners from across the U.S. and abroad who are dedicated to service, to run as a symbol of solidarity with the Cuban youth and to raise awareness for youth in Cuba. With every step Run for Roots runners take, they help inspire Cuban youth to greater heights.

ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT National Youth Leadership Roots of Hope has sponsored Youth Leadership conferences at: New York University (2013), Georgia Tech, University of Florida, University of South Florida, Miami Dade College, University of Virginia, University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard (2012); Boston College (2011); Cornel (2010); Universityof Miami (2009); Duke University (2008); University of Pennsylvania (2007); Princeton (2006); Georgetown (2005); and Harvard (2003). More than 4,000 students and young professionals have participated in these conferences. Each one has had a unique theme but remains focused on role of empowering youth in Cuba.

Microfinance Realizing that economic development is key in the success of societies in transition, the purpose of the economic empowerment initiative is to empower Cubans on the island by providing them with the resources and the knowhow to start and operate their own, independent businesses. These initiatives will offer resources and trainings to entrepreneurs in Cuba to that will aid Cubans in jumpstarting their small businesses. These economic empowerment initiatives are intended to unleash the enormous human capital available in Cuba today.

For more information about Roots of Hope’s programs and initiatives, please visit:

Photograph © Anne Etienne and Used with by permission by Roots of Hope, Inc.

Roots of Hope Press Kit 2013



“Contact and technology will change Cuba”

“El exilio de Miami cambia su rostro”

Andy Garcia actor and director

BBC Mundo

“Help Cuba’s youth empower themselves” The Economist

“Voted Best Grassroots Organization” Miami New Times

“[Roots of Hope] have gone beyond the talking phase to taking action. “It needs to be supported and applauded every chance we get. If any change will come in the future, it will come from the youth.” Gloria Estefan Grammy-award winning singer

“Raíces de Esperanza, a movement made up of mainly young Cuban-American university students committed to defend human rights, debate ideas and participatory democracy.”


“The Bridge Generation” The Miami Herald

El Nuevo Herald

“Raíces de Esperanza, is perhaps the largest group of 20-something Cuban Americans… The group’s rise and its message are a testament to the changing dynamics in the Cuban exile community.” The Miami Herald

“Cuban Americans Act for Change”

Roots of Hope Press Kit 2013


ROOTS OF HOPE IN THE NEWS SKEPTICS QUESTION PLAN FOR CUBA TRANSITION NBC Latino | February 25, 2013 “This is the first time they’re actually thinking about some sort of succession plan that would not end with a Castro,” said Felice Gorordo, the co-founder of Raices de Esperanza, or Roots of Hope, a group of young Cuban-Americans in Miami. “But a lot of this is to be determined.”

PAYÁ, CEPERO’S HUMAN-RIGHTS LEGACY IN CUBA Miami Herald | January 27, 2013 On behalf of all of those who called Oswaldo and Harold friends and heroes, we are called to humbly honor their memory and ensure we never forget their legacy. They were both personal heroes of mine and, for many of us at Roots of Hope, true giants among men and individuals who deeply inspired us through their living example of courage, compassion, hope and peace.

ROOTS OF HOPE SENDS CELL PHONES TO CUBA VOXXI News | March 28, 2012 “Roots of Hope is best known for its project ‘Cell Phones for Cuba’. By collecting and refurbishing old and used cell phones, Roots of Hope has given more than 1,200 cell phones to youth on the island. Their goal of spreading communication has also succeeded by collecting USB flash drives, loading them with information, and sending them to young Cubans. Ultimately, Roots hopes that these projects can help Cuban youth think more freely, giving them the power to change the direction of Cuba’s future.”

CUBAN-AMERICANS HEAD TO CUBA FOR POPE’S VISIT BusinessWeek | March 26, 2012 “Natalia Martinez will be traveling with friends from the non-profit Roots of Hope, which seeks to connect Cuban youth in the U.S. with those on the island. “I have wanted to go for a while,” she said. “I think I was waiting for the right time and right group of people.”

THE MIAMI MIRROR: CUBANS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WATER ARE SLOWLY CHANGING TOO The Economist | March 24, 2012 “Its [Roots of Hope’s] aim is “to help Cuba’s youth to empower themselves”, says Tony Jimenez, one of its founders. Its members collect second-hand mobile phones to give to young people on the island.”

ROOTS OF HOPE INSPIRES A NEW GENERATION TO HELP CUBANS FIND FREEDOM The Miami Herald – Op-ed by Carmen Pelaez February 5, 2012 “…In reality, we’re just filling a gap, coming at the struggle with fresh eyes and a new set of possibilities.”

‘RUN FOR ROOTS’ MOVES THE CONVERSATION ON CUBA FAST-FORWARD The Miami Herald | January 22, 2012 “You cannot look forward if you are looking back,” said Carmen Pelaez. “Here I was running, and I wasn’t thinking about the tragedy of what has happened, how my family suffered. I was thinking, one day how to run a marathon in Cuba. All I could think about were ways to create a future, to support the people on the island who want to create a future.”

NONPROFIT PLANTS SEEDS FOR FUTURE US-CUBA RELATIONS The Associated Press | September 26, 2011 “A group of students and young professionals is looking to strengthen relations between Cuban youth and those in the U.S. Miami-based Roots of Hope has changed since its 2003 founding as a group of idealistic Cuban-American teens. Today its alumnae have access to some of the nation’s top elected leaders, including Sen. Marco Rubio and President Barack Obama. Still, its leaders maintain the group is apolitical, with members holding very different views on U.S. policy toward Cuban.”

Roots of Hope Press Kit 2013


ROOTS OF HOPE IN THE NEWS 20 UNDER 40 Poder Magazine | April 2010 “Gorordo co-founded Roots of Hope in 2003 while studying at Georgetown University. On a trip to Havana he met two young Cubans who were hopeful about building a new civil society. “I felt if they are putting everything on the line, then we have to do something,” he says.”

WILL ‘TELECENTROS’ TRANSFORM CUBA’S INTERNET ACCESS? | April 14, 2010 “It wasn’t your typical keynote address. Earlier this month, at an event held on the campus of Cornell University, a room of people gazed at a blank screen in rapt attention, listening to a woman speak over a weak cell phone connection originating in Cuba. The speaker was Cuba’s 32-year-old star blogger, Yoani Sanchez. The event was the seventh annual meeting of Roots of Hope, an organization founded by CubanAmerican students that aims to promote cultural exchanges with the island.”


MIAMI PIDIÓ LIBERTAD PARA CUBA EL EXILIÓ APOYÓ A LAS DAMAS DE BLANCO | March 26, 2010 “En Boston también se llevó a cabo una marcha en el Harvard Square, convocada por Raíces de Esperanza, una organización que agrupa a nivel nacional a más de 3 mil estudiantes y jóvenes profesionales de origen cubano. Eventos similares están previstos en Los Ángeles con la participación del actor cubanoamericano Andy García y en Nueva York el próximo domingo, informó a Efe Verónica Nur Valdés, portavoz de Raíces de Esperanza.”

CUBAN RAPSODY Street Level an NYU publication | Issue 2009 “Yoani Sanchez, a Cuban blogger living in and writing about the island, spoke of her hopes for the group [Roots of Hope] in an audio/video recording. Usually they have live conference, but because of Sanchez’s growing popularity among U.S. blog readers, such contact could have been very dangerous for her and her family.”


Huffington Post | April 7, 2010

The Associated Press | April 3, 2009

“Due to the violent persecution that the Damas De Blanco” (Ladies In White) suffered at the hands of Cuba’s repressive government on March 21, they vowed to stop their peaceful demonstrations. That is, until they got word of the movement to show solidarity being taken by Roots of Hope’s network and celebrities including Gloria Estefan, Perez Hilton, Andy Garcia, George Lopez and many more with absolutely no tie to the island. Dressed in white and holding flowers, approximately 100,000 people gathered in Miami on March 25 and a few days later in Madrid, Los Angeles and New York City to acknowledge the repression faced by the people of Cuba.”

“The Cuban-American actor who starred in the “Ocean’s Eleven” films spoke Friday before the annual Roots of Hope student conference in Miami. The national group promotes exchanges between U.S. and Cuban youth and is unveiling a new travel guide for those seeking a meaningful visit to the island.”

HOME AWAY FROM HOME – YOUNG ACTIVISTS REACH OUT TO CUBA The Associated Press | August 5, 2006 “Our focus is all about the Island,” said Diane Cabrera, a board member of Roots of Hope. “Change has to come from there”.



Roots of Hope Press Kit 2013


Roots of Hope is available to reporters for comment and interviews related to our work, the reality of youth CONTACT US in Cuba, and human rights on the island. Roots of Hope is available to reporters for comment and interviews related to our work, the reality of youth in Cuba, and human rights on the island. MEDIA CONTACTS +1.305.397.8604 MEDIA CONTACTS

SPOKESPERSONS +1.305.397.8604 Raul Moas Executive Director

SPOKESPERSONS +1.305.790.1124

Raul Moas Executive Director Natalia Martinez Director of Communications +1.305.790.1124 +1.954.663.6284

Natalia MartinezCo-Founder Director of Communications Felice Gorordo +1.954.663.6284 +1.305.318.1151

Felice GorordoCo-Chairman Co-Founder Tony Jimenez +1.305.318.1151 +1.305.495.9696

Tony Jimenez Co-Chairman Alex Buznego Trustee +1.305.495.9696 +1.305.494.0578

Alex Buznego Trustee +1.305.494.0578


CONNECT WITH US @RootsofHope @RootsofHope




Roots of Hope, Inc., is a non-profit, non-partisan group sponsoring academic and cultural initiatives focused on youth empowerment in Cuba.

Main Office 420 Lincoln Road Suite 348 Miami Beach, FL 33139 tel: 305.735.1868

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