Inspiration to keep us going

Are you ready for some good news? It seems the news is all bad, divisive and demoralizing, especially when it comes to immigration. That’s why The ILC hosts an annual Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards Dinner to remind us all how truly inspiring immigrants are.

If you believe that immigrants are assets, if you believe we should be welcoming ambitious newcomers, then I urge you to show your support by participating in The 2018 ILC Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards. You can nominate an entrepreneur, become an event sponsor and attend the Awards Dinner on May 3, 2018, at the Royal Sonesta Boston.

For inspiration, stories of last year’s winners are included below. You can hear their stories in their own words as part of our Immigrant Entrepreneur Video Interview Series. Complete details are available on The ILC website, and our Digital Press Kit offers many easy suggestions for spreading the news via social media or email.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

Diane Portnoy
Founder and CEO
The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc.

Josefina Luna

2017 Winner, Outstanding Neighborhood Business


Josefina Luna founded CERO Cooperative with other working-class African-American and Latino entrepreneurs from Roxbury and Dorchester to create jobs and environmental sustainability.

CERO is a worker-owned cooperative that provides food waste composting solutions to businesses in Greater Boston. To date CERO has diverted more than 3 million pounds of organic materials from incinerators and landfills and provided compost-rich soil to Boston-area urban farms.



Jose de la Rosa

2017 Winner, Outstanding Business Growth


Jose de la Rosa came to Boston in 1989 and worked his way through school, earning a degree in finance despite knowing very little English. His wife, Zoraida de la Rosa, was a nurse who noticed a gap in services offered in home health care.

Together they started Guardian Healthcare in 2008 with just three employees. They now have nearly 300 full-time-equivalent employees and have provided more than 80,000 home visits to date.

Speaking of entrepreneurs…

Eighty-five percent of the highest-valued, venture-backed companies in Massachusetts have an immigrant founder. Coincidence? We think not. See the full story.

Sandro Catanzaro

2017  Winner, Outstanding High-Tech Business


Sandro Catanzaro is the co-founder and chief innovation officer of DataXu, a programmatic marketing platform used by the world’s top brands and agencies. DataXu employs more than 350 people in 11 countries, with half of those in DataXu’s Boston headquarters.

DataXu is actually the commercial application of software that Catanzaro helped create for NASA to decide how to transport humans to Mars and return them safely back to Earth.

Johannes Fruehauf

2017 Winner, Outstanding Life Science Business

Dr. Johannes Fruehauf’s contribution to the life sciences are many. He is founder, president and CEO of BioLabs Cambridge and the BioLabs network, which builds and operates premium co-working laboratory facilities around the country for science-based startups.

He is co-founder and president of a not-for-profit subsidiary, LabCentral, that reduces the capital needs for startup biotech companies by a factor of 10 to 20 times. Since opening in 2014, LabCentral has been home to more than 150 companies that raised more than $1 billion in funding and created more than 700 jobs.

He is also a co-founder and general partner at BioInnovation Capital, a seed- and early-stage venture fund investing in biotech and life-sciences opportunities.

About Us

The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc. (ILC) of Malden, MA, is a not-for-profit organization that gives immigrants a voice in three ways. The English Language Program provides free, year-round English classes to immigrant and refugee adults in Greater Boston to help them become successful workers, parents and community members. The Public Education Institute informs Americans about the economic and social contributions of immigrants in our society, and the Institute for Immigration Research, a joint venture with George Mason University, conducts research on the economic contributions of immigrants.

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