Press Release: Latino Community Foundation Tackles Environmental Justice and Higher Education

LCF Sacramento Summit 2016

 Latino Community Foundation Tackles Environmental Justice and Higher Education 

Sacramento, CA (March 30, 2016) – The Latino Community Foundation (LCF) will host its 4th annual Latino Equity Summit on March 30th at the Sheraton Grand Sacramento Hotel. This year’s Summit will bring together over 250 Latino elected officials, government representatives, community leaders, and advocates from across the state of California. The annual Sacramento Summit is the only program of its kind that raises Latino issues and effective solutions in a one-day forum. Juan Hernandez, Executive Director of La Luz in Sonoma County said that “The candid discussions among Summit participants combined with the policy analysis and networking creates an atmosphere of comradery and hope.” The Summit will address two urgent topics for the Latino community— environmental justice and higher education.

LCF’s new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Jacqueline Martinez Garcel, will kick off the day by setting a framework for a Latino Equity Agenda and introduce Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León. For the first time in history, Latinos hold the top two leadership posts in the state legislature. “The appointments of Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President Kevin de Leon present an important opportunity for our communities to unify and champion policies that will advance greater equity for Latino families.” Said Jacqueline Martinez Garcel.  Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon is confirmed as the keynote luncheon speaker.

Guillermo Mayer, President and CEO of Public Advocates, will host the conversation on Latinos and the Environment. Dr. Belinda Reyes, Director of the Cesar E. Chavez Institute for Public Policy will host the conversation on Latinos and Higher Education. Renowned leaders from these sectors will showcase successful Latino-led strategies for advancing opportunities and policies on these issues.

The day will conclude with an Afternoon of Action at the state capitol. LCF has organized Legislative visits with key decision-makers and their staff to establish and strengthen relationships and to help move the day’s discussions into action. These visits will start a dialogue about opportunities for change to help California’s Latino families and communities. Immediately following the Legislative Visits, LCF, will host a networking reception at Cafeteria 15L.

Learn more at:


About the Latino Community Foundation

The Latino Community Foundation (LCF) is the premier Latino foundation in California. The mission of LCF is to inspire philanthropy, invest in Latino communities and lead transformative solutions for change. LCF fulfills this mission by investing in high-impact solutions, uniting leadership and inspiring philanthropy among Latinos. LCF is igniting a new generation of Latino philanthropists focused on inspiring positive changes in the Latino community.

Since 2008, LCF partnered with 65 Latino-based community partners and invested over $3.4 million in California’s Latino community.  LCF launched the California Latino Agenda, which brings issues that affect the Latino community to the forefront and connects philanthropic, business and community leaders to advocate for solutions that will empower Latino families, and create a better future for all Californians.


For more information about LCF visit  and


We are in Charge of our Own Destiny

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 2.46.55 PMMy name is Andrés Connell and I’m a founding member of the Latino Men’s Giving Circle. As an immigrant and as Executive Director of Nuestra Casa, nonprofit dedicated to serving the needs of immigrant Latino families in the East Palo Alto region, I know the value of working collectively with sister organizations to bring about community transformation. This philosophy carries over to my philanthropic work where I see the importance that comes from pooling our personal resources in order to better serve our communities.

I had the privilege of attending the 2015 National Immigrant Integration Conference in New York City earlier this week. At this year’s convening, we heard from a host of leading academics and immigrant integration experts on the importance of genuinely engaging immigrant populations. We were inspired by the words of both New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, and New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, both of whom have strong ties to Italian immigrants. Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, also made an appearance and promised to continue supporting DACA & DAPA legislation as well as pursuing CIR (comprehensive immigration reform).

The messages from all of these individuals were right on point and powerful, especially given the rhetoric coming from some of those on the opposite side of the political spectrum, but they paled in comparison to the passion and fervor coming from those of us in the audience. WE are the masters of our own narrative and WE must take the lead on steering the political discourse in the proper direction! WE cannot afford to sit on the sidelines and let ‘others’ dictate the local, regional and national tones of these very important political conversations.

As I think about the work that we are doing locally through our numerous Latino Giving Circles, WE are showing the country that WE are in charge of our own destinies. As Latinos, WE come from all different walks of life and from different economic back grounds but WE share a common vision for our communities. By joining one of our giving circles, you have an opportunity to invest in our communities and become part of the WE movement. Adelante!

Latinos are Philanthropists // Join a Giving Circle!


 Latinos are a generous community and we shouldn’t be underestimated as philanthropists.

Two years ago, we asked you to join our philanthropic movement led by and for the Latino community. We knew that there was a tremendous amount of passion and ingenuity that Latinos could bring to the field. And we were right! Our Giving Circle members have rolled up their sleeves by giving their time and talent to local Latino nonprofits. They are interested in the issues, in leveraging funding and are thinking about systemic change.

As of today, we have 122 Latino Giving Circle members in 5 active chapters. We are currently recruiting for Founding Members of the Latinos in Tech and the Sacramento Circle.This year, LCF Giving Circles will be investing $100,000 in grants to Latino-based organizations that they have selected. Today we ask you to join! Stop by any of our upcoming meetings to see how it all works. Be part of a community that is empowering change. Give back in a meaningful, fun, and important way.

  • Minimum donation is $1,000/year
  • 100% of your donation goes back to the Latino community
  • Contact Sara Velten to join – email her at 
  • Check out the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s blog post about LCF’s work in Catalyzing Community Giving. 



  • Latino Men’s Giving Circle: August 19th 
  • SF Latina Giving Circle: August 20th 
  • Sacramento Co-ed Latino Giving Circle: August 26th 
  • Peninsula Latina Giving Circle: August 27th 
  • East Bay Latina Giving Circle: September 3rd
  • Pleasanton Latina Giving Circle: September 8th 
  • Latinos in Tech (co-ed) TBD


Our Latino Road Map to Healing and Wellness: Building a National Model


By: Angela Gallegos-Castillo PhD, Community Builder/Planner

Just three years ago, hundreds of community members—mothers and fathers, teachers, youth,  abuelos and abuelas, counselor, and nonprofit leaders in the Mission District of San Francisco came together and said YA BASTA to the senseless violence and deaths of six Latino youth within a five-week period.  Over 500 residents responded to “el grito” and came together to collectively identify community solutions. “No more business as usual. No more watching our kids fall through the bureaucratic cracks” they said.

After several town halls and many workgroup meetings later, the community process produced the Roadmap to Peace: A Community Proposal (RTP), a five-year community-driven systems reform initiative. This proposal is based on the knowledge we all know:  that the longer youth remain disconnected, the more they are exposed to increased risks that can ultimately lead to prison or death. The RTP seeks to change that path by providing an effective alternative. Rather than asking youth to accommodate to bureaucratic processes, the RTP builds systems around the needs of youth. How?

First, Rood Map to Peace is rooted in community-based knowledge and solutions. We, the compilation of the Latino community: teachers, service providers, abuelos, parents, family members etc. have the cultural and linguistic knowledge and wisdom to effectively support the healing of our young men and women. We know that to effectively facilitate youth’s journey to healing and wellness, we must embrace restorative justice, resiliency, trauma-informed, and intergenerational principles; our approach must be holistic and coordinated.

Second, the Rood Map to Peace promotes on-demand services. This concept has been raised numerous times for various issues, and there’s a reason. It’s essential for disconnected youth. Linking youth to support and services when THEY need it is pretty revolutionary. Currently, youth and their families wait—sometimes as long as three months— for help. By the time youth can finally be seen, their problems have worsened. On-demand services means youth and their families can receive care without waiting, thereby warding off increased risks.

Third, is the notion of shared care conferencing. Remember when it was said that “it takes a village?” But what happens if the villagers don’t have a process for communicating about the developing needs of each youth? That’s the system we currently have. On average, a disconnected youth typically needs support for housing, healthcare, education, job training, and behavioral support. That usually means s/he must work with five or more service providers, most of whom don’t talk with each other about that one youth. Services and solutions remain in silos, leaving young person frustrated with an overly bureaucratic system. We aim to create a coordinated, integrated service network that communicates together to create a human safety net for each young person so they don’t fall through the cracks.

Fourth, Rood Map to Peace is also tackling policy reforms. Existing policies around juvenile justice, program budgeting targeting disconnected youth, and police responses to neighborhood violence must be revisited with an eye towards social justice and equity. For example, we know the restorative justice framework is healing and effective at reducing violence and conflict. However this framework has yet to be adopted in most school districts as the strategy for reducing suspensions and expulsions. It’s time to integrate policies that support equity, social justice and healing into current systems. Advocating for these and other policy changes will go far in the creation of positive, healthy options and connections for young people, their families and the communities they live in.

IT’s TIME! Together, as an organized and collective voice, we can make a difference in how we engage, inform and support the healing of our Latina/o youth and their families and collectively change the institutional practices that don’t work. As they say, “If not us, then who?”

Come join us! We are seeking partners – youth, residents, agencies and institutions – in San Francisco who are interested in peace-making and strengthening community connections among our youth. Please contact us if you would like to assist or if you’d like more information. Please contact Angela Gallegos-Castillo at

in the streets


Road Map to Peace Partnership

The Road Map to Peace initiative is directed by a colectiva that encompasses the following members:  community residents, Instituto Familiar de la Raza, Mission Peace Collaborative, CARECEN of San Francisco, Mission Neighborhood Health Center, Mission Neighborhood Centers, Bay Area Community Resources (CHALK), Asian Neighborhood Design, Five Keys Charter School, Mission Peace Collaborative, Horizons, Inc., UCSF Clinical and Translation Science Institute, and SFSU Cesar Chavez Institute. The mission of the RTP is increase the economic security, health and safety of San Francisco Latina/o youth in the Mission district and citywide.Roadmap to peace


Creating a Culture of Coverage

Creating a Culture of Coverage,
Lorena Huerta, Executive Director of Familias Unidas


In a state where Latinos are now the majority, there were too few that enrolled into Covered California.The year 2013 is a benchmark in the Obama administration as health is now beginning to be recognized as a right and not a privilege.  The media campaign missed the mark in outreaching to Latinos.  Statements like, ” you cannot be denied for preexisting conditions” did not resonate with Latinos. Latinos and in particular, immigrant populations have not had access to insurance in the US or, in their home countries.  Health care is not part of the Latino culture.

It reminds me of growing up in the Central Valley.  I lived on a dairy farm where all the families around us were mostly uninsured.  One of the reasons I went into social work is because of my father’s example.  He was considered the community social worker because he knew some English.  A family that had been friends of ours were uninsured.  The mother of the family was diagnosed with cancer.  As was common for most families, she did not have access to preventative care and so she sought treatment too late.When she passed away, the family lost the home they worked so hard to buy.  It was their American dream.

Everyone has the responsibility to create a Culture of Coverage.  It is time to begin changing how we speak about health in our circles, within our communities, in our churches, and schools. It is our right to have access to quality health care. Not to be excluded are the remaining uninsured which really means those that are undocumented.  Health care for all means that they should be included into the Affordable Care Act.  It is time that we begin creating a Culture of Coverage in the Latino community.

This is What Leadership Looks Like

camille By: Camille Llanes-Fontanilla, Executive Director, Somos Mayfair

Somos Mayfair is a grassroots, place-based organization that has been working in the Mayfair neighborhood of East San Jose for more than 16 years. In our largely working-poor, immigrant, Latino community, our mission is to cultivate the dreams and the power of the people living here.

We are most known for our robust Promotor leadership development model that equips community residents with the tools they need to claim their individual power, take collective action, and address the most pressing issues and challenges that confront them on a daily basis. But because the core of our work is community engagement and leadership development, many wonder how we measure our success.

  • What does leadership look like?
  • How do you measure it?
  • How do you know when you have succeeded?

I have grappled with these questions for some time now, and while we use an array of measurement tools- pre and post surveys, an annual community assessment, quarterly dashboards, focus groups, and testimonials – nothing does our work justice.

Our work is often NOT linear, in which it goes from a problem, to an intervention, to a result…from point A, to point B, and point C. Rather it’s a process that moves, ebbs and flows, as a person grows and learns; as she runs into her own barriers, and has to navigate a new way around them.

Nearly 2 years ago, I met Dilza, a mother of three young children living in Mayfair. Immediately, I picked up on the deeply rooted sense of isolation and disconnection with her community. As a daughter of immigrants, I immediately recognized these emotions.

As we launched our partnership with parents at Cesar Chavez Elementary School, I saw Dilza more and more. She came to Somos because she was invited and welcomed. She had a space to engage, a place to connect with other parents, and ultimately, she connected with her OWN power within. 

Dilza is now a Somos promotora who advocates on behalf of not only her own children but all Mayfair children daily. This past fall, Dilza came into my office to share her OWN plan of action in response to a challenge that the parents were facing on campus and started to organize.

Today, Dilza is the President of the Chavez Parent Advisory Committee and is working closely with another parent leader and promotora, Olivia, to engage Mayfair parents in our District’s Local Control Accountability Plan process. They went to the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) hearing in Sacramento; have conducted parent educational session; and are organizing around the biggest education-finance reform in our community.

Dilza’s story is not an isolated one. At Somos, there are countless stories of transformation and examples of leadership that keep our movement going.

  • Irma and Maria Teresa, long time Somos Promotores are invited to community events across San Jose and the Silicon Valley region to speak about their experiences and reflections of leadership. They don’t get invited through Somos and show up with talking points. Rather, they get their own invitations; show up; and have a voice at the table amidst policy makers and other executive directors.
  • Saul, a Mayfair father, organized a free, neighborhood soccer league for Mayfair children. He raised the money, bought the equipment, and recruited volunteer parent coaches to run weekly practices and games. He has organized three 12-week sessions thus far.

Our work has been described to me by one of our major investors as “SOUL” work

It is the work that taps into people souls, into their core, and transforms the way they think and how they take action. This work supports individuals to move from acting as an individual, to acting as a community.

  • At Somos, we support the shift from isolation to connection.
  • We move people to organize themselves into a community that does, not a community that just is.
  • We support people in strengthening their self-confidence, so that they can challenge the multigenerational misconceptions of our community and of ourselves.

As you can imagine, this “Soul Work” gets messy from time to time. So, when it gets messy, I have to remind myself that amidst all the issues that Mayfair families confront on a daily basis, they continue to SHOW UP! They show up and fill our front room with chatter and commotion to learn from one another; to plan community actions; and to identify new ways to attack the root causes of their problems.

They show up, because they are driven by HOPE, the hope and dreams that their children will have a different life, with greater opportunities and more possibilities. So, if they are willing to show up, time and time again; then so must I.

It takes daily renewal. It requires every staff member, Promotor and volunteer to recommit every day -to center everything on this hope.

So, in Mayfair, showing up, taking collective action, and being continuously driven by hope, even on the toughest of days…well, that is what leadership looks like.


Our Community has GANAS for Change

By: Alejandra Gutierrez, Youth Organizing Coordinator, Fathers and Families of San Joaquin (FFSJ)

FFSJ group

I come from a hardworking, Mexican family that taught me the value of ganas, which does not have a direct English translation, but for me, it means that if you have passion for something, you must work hard to attain it no matter what it takes. While attending the University of California Irvine, I was inspired by my community organizing classes and justice became what I had ganas for. The love that I have for social justice work was first developed through my studies, but it truly solidified through the teachings of my mentors, the ones that showed me how to organize. Grassroots organizing brings solutions.

I am honored to be working as the Youth Organizing Coordinator at Fathers and Families of San Joaquin (FFSJ). I grew up in a small town in the Eastern Coachella Valley – a poor, marginalized, and agricultural community.  Although Stockton is not where I was raised, I now proudly call it home.  On paper and via statistics, Stockton is not where you come to realize your dreams. In fact, Stockton has been named one of the most miserable cities by Forbes magazine and became the largest American city to declare bankruptcy. Stockton has very high unemployment rates and one of the highest homicide and incarceration rates in the State. But we, at Fathers and Families continue to work with the most powerful tool to bring about change- our people. And we are seeing real results. Last year, we joined forces with our community and rallied to prevent the development of a new prison in our county. This was a tremendous victory that deeply motivated our community to continue efforts to bring alternatives to incarceration and support for the formerly incarcerated, which will inevitably strengthen families and our greater community.

What makes us so successful is the fact that we don’t “serve” people, we engage the community and create a positive and empowered extended family. The people we engage through our programs feel like they are part of something bigger in their community, something that they help shape and lead.  We are a community-based organization and our organizing is led by a diverse Latino, African-American, and Asian community. There is no division between me, the organizer, and the person who walks into our doors. We treat individuals and all families with love and respect. Not one single person walks in and out of our center without acknowledgement, without a handshake, and very rarely, without a hug. Nor do they leave without hearing words of encouragement and hope that follow them throughout the rest of their day, and will hopefully follow them for the rest of their lives.

We are intentional about working with the most vulnerable populations. In our Youth Program, we reach out to the youth who others have failed to engage and would consider the most difficult to work with. Their stories become our story and they become part of our family. We follow the teachings of our maestros and maestras (mentors) that have guided us in bringing healing into our community. When we learn about our roots and cultura, we remove our blindfolds and gain the mental freedom to understand that in fact, we can change our destiny. We resist, insist and persist that we, the people, will shape a healthier, safer, and more prosperous future for Stockton.

I pass down the importance of having ganas as I organize our youth and partner with our elders. I know that if we can come together, we can achieve the impossible. I invite you to join our movement in Stockton or to find ganas for making change in your own community.


My personal commitment to the Latino Community

by: Hector Mujica, Social Responsibility Strategist, Google


As a Latino born in Venezuela and raised in Miami, and now as a proud American citizen working for Google, I can closely relate to the needs of the Latino community. This deep understanding has led me to become an advocate for digital inclusion. Knowing the transformative and disruptive power of the Internet in the world – and as an agent of knowledge, communication, and reform – it is evident that digital access is key in today’s society. Unfortunately, the Latino community in the United States, is still not connected.  According to Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), only 52 % of Latino households are connected to the internet at home, making them much less likely to use broadband than Blacks (71%), Asians (75%), and Whites (81%). These figures are not only shocking, but they are a reflection of the depth of the inequalities that exist in our communities, and a call to action.

Google has been hard at work in understanding and addressing the complexities brought on by the digital divide. We are a stakeholder in helping communities to bridge the digital divide, and we need strong local partners who are closest to the people impacted to deliver smart and sustainable solutions.

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. A key component of realizing that mission involved bridging the digital divide in our own communities. That’s why we’ve teamed up with the Latino Community Foundation to provide funds, Chromebooks and trainings to teach the Latinos how to leverage the web for success.

Googlers (Hispanic Resource Employee Group) also marked Hispanic Heritage Month by hosting LCF Family Health+Tech Day for the past two years where we invited members of the local Latino community to spend an afternoon at Google learning how to eat healthy, stay active, and leverage technology for health and learning. But our commitment to the Hispanic community in bridging the digital divide does not end in the Bay Area, we have also been piloting trainings and device donations at other locations around the state, and around the country.

Access to the web has had a profound impact in my own life. It has helped shape my knowledge, ideas, and my passions. It has also opened doors to new opportunities I otherwise would not have had access to. It is my hope that with efforts of companies like Google and organizations like the Latino Community Foundation we will fully connect everyone, everywhere to the power of the web. Join us today.


Poverty data does not surprise us – and that’s a bad thing.

Poverty data does not surprise us–and that’s a bad thing. State surplus this year provides an opportunity to do something about this once and for all.
Raquel F. Donoso

For me fighting poverty is personal. I am a product of programs that provided my family the opportunity to buy a home, me the ability to receive a first-class public university education, and my son the opportunity to attend world class childcare. That is why I have dedicated my life to ensuring every family has the same chance.

The California Budget Project (CBP) released data this week that looks at poverty in California 50 years since the War on Poverty began. While there has been progress, it is clear that many families experienced big setbacks during the recession which still remain to this day. Last year, nearly 16 percent of Californians (6 million) lived in poverty. The child poverty rate is even higher, with 22.5 percent of the state’s children (2.1 million) living in families with incomes below the federal poverty line,which is an income of $18,498 for a family of three with two children. 1 in 3 of these children is Latino.

poverty map
What is more troubling is the variation of poverty rates in California. As the map below shows, counties like Santa Clara, Marin, and San Mateo have poverty rates below 10%, while Fresno, Tulare, Imperial have poverty rates at 20%-25%. This means in Fresno 1 in 4 people live below the poverty line, which is far below what many experts believe is sufficient to support a family in California and much of the U.S. In addition to this, for many families the weak labor market and financial devastation created by the Great Recession is not a thing of the past.

At the Latino Community Foundation, this information is not surprising. We ask our partners, Latino-based organizations funded by LCF, information on the family income of those they serve. On average, the majority of the responses show that family incomes are between $20,000-$25,000 a year for a family of four. Much more needs to be done to change this reality. Not just because it is the right thing to do, but because everyone does better when all boats are lifted. Children born into families that make more money do better – they do better in school, they have better health indicators, and overall add infinitely more to the prosperity of a society.

The CBP report does acknowledge that the War on Poverty programs, such as food stamps and cash aid, did make an impact in reducing poverty. Social policies aimed at tackling poverty work, but we can do better. California needs its own War on Poverty platform that moves policies forward based on current and future demographics and the needs of all residents in the state. As a single mother that received assistance during college I know first-hand that work training programs focus all too often on jobs with little or no upward mobility and assistance is tied to arcane rules.

I know there are efforts throughout the State to reduce poverty and LCF partners with many organizations to help support this mission. California is set to have the biggest surplus in more than a decade. At a recent budget briefing it seemed that the discussions in Sacramento were leaning to conservative actions rather than reinstating safety-net programs that have been devastated by budget cuts over the years and contributed to growing inequality and increased poverty.

With the 12th largest economy in the world it is critical that we come together and do something to address the chronic poverty we see in so many communities throughout California. Actions can be taken, with little funds, to bring programs that fight poverty into the 21st century and make them work better for a new wave of California residents and families. However, to really change the current state of affairs and build a more prosperous State that does not allow any child to go to be bed hungry – will require greater, more effective investments and leadership.

To read more about the history of the war on poverty: click here