Mirta Ramirez was one of the founders of ASPIRA of Illinois, a nonprofit organization that has been devoted to the education and leadership development of Latino youth for the last fifty years.

Mirta’s vision to expand the ASPIRA model to Chicago, when the high school dropout rate was seventy-five percent, served as a catalyst for others to organize and to advocate for Puerto Rican and other Latino youth. In 1968, with absolute resolve and collaboration, Mirta led the way for ASPIRA of Illinois to be established. “ASPIRA of Illinois will always remember Mirta as a visionary,” said Fernando Grillo, Chair of the ASPIRA of Illinois Board of Directors.  Today, thousands credit ASPIRA of Illinois for giving them the support, instilling cultural awareness, and for providing the guidance to pursue an education.  “There are so many positive stories from individuals who were mentored and served by ASPIRA. It’s with tremendous pride that we call ourselves Aspirantes. Our condolences and prayers for her husband Teddy, her sons Hector and Carlos, and her family.” added Grillo.

The ASPIRA community mourns and celebrates the extraordinary life of Mirta Ramirez, a resilient woman who dedicated so much of her life to empowering youth by creating pathways for them to obtain an education. Senator Iris Martinez (IL-D) shared, “With the passing of Mirta Ramirez, we lost one of our most outspoken and respected voices for educational reform in the city of Chicago. Mirta was the role model I looked up to as a community leader and as an advocate for our Latino youth.  She will be greatly missed.”

ASPIRA of Illinois is a testament to the fact that a vision can transform the lives of so many and it is clear that Mirta Ramirez left behind a solid foundation for the Latino community.