Hispanas Unidas was founded in 1983 by then city councilwoman, Maria Antonietta Berriozabal, the first Latina city councilwoman of a major U.S. city. Initially an all volunteer organization, Hispanas Unidas is dedicated to the education, empowerment, and advancement of minority women.
Hispanas Unidas began by hosting bi-annual conferences for Latinas, many from economically depressed neighborhoods, to address issues facing them and their communities. For many of the attendees, these conferences were their first opportunity to discuss issues that directly affected them and their daily lives. These conferences each brought together up to 1,000 women and focused on self, family, work, and community.
In 1995, the Hispanas Unidas board of directors conducted a comprehensive survey to identify the needs and concerns of local Latinas. High on their list of concerns was the problem of teen pregnancy, a concern supported by local and national demographic data. Among the long-term impacts found is the fact that girls who become pregnant as teenagers are more likely to live a life of poverty. By extension, the children of teenage mothers share the same destiny of poverty and higher risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, entering relationships that are characterized by domestic violence and referral to the juvenile justice system. In short, they are at risk for all the social woes that accompany life at the lowest end of the economic scale.
The Escuelitas program was established in response to the data collected.