Unaccompanied Minors Need Our Support

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By: Ivonne Quiroz, Co-Director TIGRA

The stories that were read in the media in the summer of 2014 were upsetting. Using words like “surge” and “wave” to explain why unaccompanied minors were coming to the U.S. to seek protection, safety or to join their families, was depicted as a natural disaster that we needed to prepare for. The violence and poverty that these young people were trying to escape was far from natural and more of a human rights issue. And now, more than 65,000 Central American children and youth are in limbo in the US and have already been forgotten by the nation at large.

In the Bay Area, a place where many of these immigrant children have made a home, there are groups and organizations that are working together in order to make sure that children are not forgotten and that their stories are uplifted. We are one of these organizations, we are TIGRA: Transnational Institute for Grassroots Research and Action.

In trying to understand our role in this complex and high-need time, the issue that came up the most when we spoke to those that work closely with them, is that the unaccompanied youth feel isolated, lost and just need someone to support them. So TIGRA has partnered with Oakland Unified School District’s Unaccompanied Minors Support Consultant and Social Justice Collaborative, a legal service provider in Oakland, to find and pair up these youth with mentors from UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University.

The mentors are mostly first generation college students from immigrant families that have had to navigate different systems on their own in order to get where they are today. The mentors understand the struggle and sacrifice it takes to succeed in this country and now want to share their knowledge with others and make it easier for those who come after them. The mentors will support the youth, all high school age (14-18), in different aspects of their journey, from finding a job to guiding them to participate in extracurricular activities in Oakland.  We want this mentorship to be robust and connect as many young people as we can to a mentor, but we can’t do that alone and without funds.

TIGRA is asking the community to support these young people through donations and spreading the word about this project. We know that grassroots efforts are the best way to raise money for the projects that we care about and we know that community will always answer the call to support. To donate to this program, please visit http://www.transnationalaction.org/supportourwork/ and hit the donate button.

The staff at TIGRA are truly grateful to the people who have supported, and are currently supporting, the piloting of this program. We hope to be able to continue and expand this program in the coming years.


TIGRA engages in strategies that leverage the economic power of transnational families to set economic justice and human rights standards in the policies and practices of industries that depend on their money and their labor—making migration an option and not a necessity for economic survival for millions. TIGRA seeks to promote the practice of “Economic Citizenship” by making every economic choice matter and upholding the values we hold dear: solidarity, cooperation, and empowerment.




By Maritza Martinez, Program Manager, Somos Familia, SF Latina Giving Circle GRANTEE

I never really came out. My mom just figured it out. My family had some gay friends, but I was always terrified of disappointing them by coming out. Thankfully, my Catholic Cuban family embraced my partner and me as part of the family. I feel extremely grateful and fortunate for their love and acceptance. Currently and like my younger self, many Latina/o youth desperately wish for support and acceptance from their families.

Family and community acceptance are key for the health and well-being of LGBTQ youth and adults. LGBTQ youth that are strongly rejected by their families are 8 times more likely to attempt suicide, 6 times more likely to exhibit signs of depression, and 3 times more likely to use drugs than those accepted by their families

Before being introduced to Somos Familia, I had never seen a Latina mom openly express her pride for her LGBTQ child. Growing up I had met some family members who were either accepting or rejecting, but never a Latino parent proudly proclaiming that their child is LGBTQ.

About ten years ago, I remember seeing the PFLAG ads that featured straight family members with their LGBT relatives. It was a proud moment when I saw Latina celebrities like Christina Saralegui stand by her gay brother Ignacio and Rosario Dawson supporting her gay Uncle Frank.  This was a huge step in breaking the silence and stigma in our community. But it wasn’t until I watched the Somos Familia short film, Tres Gotas de Agua, and heard Mirna, Dolores, and Susana tell their personal stories that I realized the power families have in transforming our communities.

Since I began working with Somos Familia, I have been surprised and moved by the power of families to affect change. Somos Familia hosts community events, a bi-monthly parent group, and educational workshops in the Latino community to create safe and accepting environments for LGBTQ people and their families. The act of parents talking to other parents about family and community acceptance of LGBTQ individuals is extremely moving and effective for changing hearts and minds.  At first, I expected a lot of conflict, but I have been pleasantly surprised at the openness to dialogue and learning from parents of school-aged children, staff in Latino-serving organizations, and other community members.

We have met mothers who thought they were the only ones with a queer kid, grandmothers who are now ready to reconnect with their estranged grandchildren, fathers who are rethinking the gender expectations they place on their kids, and many others who are accepting and supportive of LGBTQ family members.

“Somos Familia has helped me accept my children by seeing other families going through the same thing. We are not the only ones. Going through this process with my children was initially very isolating. With Somos Familia, we have been able to see that it’s normal. We know we are not alone, and now I look forward to volunteering with Somos Familia to be that support system for other parents, just like Somos Familia was for me.” – Juan, a father with LGBTQ children said of his experience with Somos Familia. When his youngest was coming out, Juan and his wife took him to a church organization that offered him support. However, it was all in English. It was very limited in how it could help us as parents. It focused on helping the individual, not the family as a whole. It has truly been a privilege for me to work with Juan’s family and get to know their journey as a family.

I am so proud of the work Somos Familia is doing in the community because we are changing how our community sees LGBTQ people. We intentionally work with all families, not just those with LGBTQ members, because we need our entire community to see themselves as allies of the LGBTQ community.

We are lifting up examples of accepting families, like Juan’s. We are creating safe spaces where all children can be themselves, regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression. Somos Familia provides the type of space I, and many other out queer folks, wish we had when we were coming out. I sure am glad this fierce, intergenerational group is around to support our families and communities.

Join us! Get involved. Also – Check out this important report from Human Rights Campaign and LULAC on how to support and care for Latino LGBTQ youth.



Connecting Funders to the Power of Latino Nonprofits

fundersThe latest Administrative relief brought hope to millions of immigrants and families throughout the nation. More importantly, this policy is smart for our nation and all Americans. The 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program allowed an estimated 1.2 million people ages 30 or younger to apply for deportation relief and receive a two-year work permit.  The proposed Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and expanded DACA would benefit millions of families. According to Migration Policy Institute estimates, Latinos accounted for 65% of immediately eligible DACA youth and represented an even greater share of DACA applications.

Latino families are and will continue to be the ones most immediately affected by any immigration reforms. But for California, DACA and DAPA are not charity; they are smart investments. The new Executive Action from President Obama is testament to smart, long-term economic and social policy. We must ensure that the narrative, as well as the policy remains positive, effective and inclusive.

The implementation, including outreach and education of expanded DACA and DAPA, remains critical, especially during a time of uncertainty given the pending lawsuit from Judge Andrew Hanen of the U.S. District Court in Texas. During this time, we must continue to create a culture that celebrates the contributions of the undocumented community, ensuring that society moves alongside policy.

Latino nonprofit, community-based organizations have been at the forefront of helping immigrants integrate, contribute and participate civically. These Latino organizations play a central role during all parts of the immigration process, in the social, cultural and economic integration of newcomers. Over the years, these organizations have gained the trust and respect of community members and leaders.  Although these trusted institutions are best positioned to continue to lead outreach and implementation efforts, most of them are doing this essential immigration work without support from any major funders. According to a recent report on philanthropic giving, less than 1.3% of all philanthropic dollars are directly invested in these Latino-based organizations.

If we are to make any headway in issues that affect California, we must involve and invest in Latino-based organizations and their leadership. If we fail to connect funders with the power and impact of grassroots, Latino-based organizations, we leave a lot of opportunity on the table.

LCF has surveyed its community partners to see if their organizations are involved in the implementation of DACA and the dissemination of information. Several organizations are already deeply involved. They have trained their staff, hosted events, shared information and provided resources to their clients. Unfortunately, few are receiving funding to do this work.  There are some bright spots in increased funding for legal service provisions, especially in the Bay Area and for the support of unaccompanied minors. A Latino based-organization from Oakland, Centro Legal de La Raza, has recently received the necessary funding to do and lead this work. But it remains essential for progress on issues such as DACA and DAPA that existing funders consider how to better support Latino-based organizations.

The Latino Community Foundation is unyielding in its commitment to Latino-based organizations, the trusted anchors in our communities. LCF has sparked multiple partnerships that bring leaders, ideas, and funding collaborations together to empower the Latino community. Join us in helping support and invest in Latino outreach and implementation efforts that are effective and strategic.

To learn more about ways to partner, please email Vice President of Programs and Policy, Masha Chernyak at mchernyak@sff.org or visit our website to learn more: www.latinocf.org

Celebrating Latina Philanthropy

Latina Giving Circle - Silicon Valley

We know that Latinas love to give back! To celebrate Women’s History Month, we are celebrating the Latino Community Foundation’s Latina Leaders and our Latina Giving Circle donors!

Join us for a WOMEN-ONLY celebration of Latina philanthropy on March 25th at the California Historical Society. Celebrate philanthropy by and for Latinas by exploring our Giving Circle program. Help honor the contributions of our members and learn more about how you can join the movement. RSVP HERE.

We are so proud of the Giving Circle movement that is gaining momentum throughout the State. Today, we have 75 Latina Giving Circle members from four chapters – San Francisco, Alameda, Pleasanton, and Silicon Valley. Explore their programs and investments at our March 25th event. We encourage you to join an existing Latina Giving Circle or to help us start a new chapter.

Today we highlight some of our newer members. Please help us welcome: Thais Rezende, Sam Fernandez, Maria Contente, Ana Maria Vallarino, Rosa Gonzalez, Rebecca Diaz, Veronica Rodriguez, and Claudia Medina. These accomplished Latinas come from the private and public sector. But what all of them have in common is their desire to give back through our giving circles… Join them!

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“I joined the Latina Giving Circle because gratitude is a key value in my life. For me, being grateful means to share my blessings. I want my children to know that their mom is involved in this group and to do the same in the future.”   – Maria O. Alvarez

Inspire Philanthropy Invitation