When Andres Connell immigrated to the United States as a young 13 year-old boy, he experienced first hand the trials and tribulations that many other young Latino boys raised in low-income households face– the continuous struggle to make ends meet, the lack of community resources, and the need for proper personal guidance. Years later, determined to be an “agent of change”, Andres is doing his part to ensure that the American Dream is accessible for young Latino boys and men in the Bay Area and surrounding areas. Andres and 33 other Bay Area Latinos are part of the SF Latino Men’s Giving Circle. On September 13, they awarded $36,000 worth of grants to four deserving organizations: Educa2, Inc of San Mateo, Homies Organizing the Mission to Empower Youth (HOMEY) of San Francisco, Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ) of Oakland, and Fathers and Families of San Joaquin of Stockton.
“We are immensely proud to be part of the Latino Men’s Giving Circle family. We believe that together we can build a world where our youth are treated as sacred and they can re-learn and re-root ourselves in our traditions where justice love and peace are embodied in all our relations!’ said Sammy Nuñez, Executive Director of Fathers and Families of San Joaquin.
These financial contributions are just the beginning. This philanthropic movement is about empowering men, both individual donors and community leaders, to grow this work together. LCF enables members to engage with the organization in deeper ways. Donors offer their expertise to these grassroots non-profits and oftentimes assume leadership positions as Board members.
“As a young Latino boy growing up I never realized how important our gente were. I was taught that we were less than, and that we would never amount to anything but prison and the barrio,” Raymond, a program participant of grantee organization Fathers and Families of San Joaquin, recalls. However, through his participation in the organization and his experience speaking with the SF Latino Men’s Giving Circle, he now says, “I have never been prouder to say somos Latinos, and we are somebody! We are to be recognized! And we are of importance!”
The SF Latino Giving Circle, founded in 2015, is part of the Latino Community Foundation’s larger Latino Giving Circle Network, a group of 233 individuals invested in improving the lives of Latinos in California by funding grassroots non-profits often overlook by traditional philanthropy. Each member pledges to donate at least $1,000 a year. Together, members define the issues facing the communities that they want to invest in. After hearing from experts and organizations, they choose their grantees.
“There is plenty of work to be done and we need all hands on deck. All of us bring our talents and networks to the table, and by doing so we are creating a powerful movement within our Latino communities. Philanthropy is for everyone and by joining our group you will become an active participant in this movement,” Andres Connell reminds us.