Fernando Mateo

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Fernando Mateo (born 1959) is President of Hispanics Across America and the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers. He spent most of his youth in New York City.

Fernando Mateo was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in a poor neighborhood on Manhattan’s lower east. In 1976, at age 17, he opened his own floor covering business with the money he saved and a $2000 loan from his father. The company, Carpet Fashions Floor Covering, soon grew to include a showroom in midtown Manhattan catering to residential and commercial clients.

Fernando believes that a good business is a socially responsible business. His first major public service initiative was to finance and develop an apprenticeship program at Rikers Island Correctional Facility in New York. Open to first time, non-violent offenders, the Mateo Institute of Training (M.I.T.) provided inmates training in various construction trades. When released from Rikers, M.I.T. graduates possess marketable job skills to earn honest livings. The program succeeded with most M. I. T. graduates obtaining good wage positions and very few returning to crime. M. I. T. not only saved New York City millions of dollars, but perhaps saved the lives of many of its graduates.

Based on an idea of his teenage son, Fernando conceived Toys for Guns during Christmas 1993 as a means to remove illegal guns from the street. The program offered a $100 gift certificate to Toy ‘R’ Us to anyone who turned in a gun to the 34th precinct (no...
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