Announcing LCF GALA Grantees!

Latino youth are the fastest growing demographic in the state of California… and It’s time to invest in their leadership. That’s what we did at this year’s Gala!

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, young Latinos are optimistic about their future, place a high value on education, hard work and career success. Unfortunately, their actual circumstances do not align with their optimism. Latino youth are the least likely of all ethnic groups to graduate high school and attain a college degree. Currently, only 12% have earned a college degree. The majority of all students in California’s public schools are now Latino and they are California’s future.

At this year’s Gala, and thanks to your generosity, we raised $32,000 for our Fund-a-Need and are awarding grants to six Latino-led organizations that work with Latino youth – include The Bay Area Gardener’s Scholarship Foundation, North Bay Organizing Project, CDTech-LA, Carecen-SF, Youth Alliance, Latino Family Fund de Gilroy. In addition, we raised $9,000 for the Next Generation Latino Giving Circle program which offers scholarships to support emerging philanthropists in our community. Last but not least, we also raised $24,500 to support two Program Interns at LCF. 

BAGSF

Bay Area Gardener’s Scholarship Foundation awards scholarships to students in the Bay Area, where a large immigrant community resides and seeks higher education but lacks financial resources. Led by their founder, Catalino Tapia, this Foundation proves everyday that anyone can be a philanthropist. With their fund-a-need donation they will be able to support their recent cohort of 31 scholarship recipients with a laptop to supplement their undergraduate experience.

“This grant has come to us at a perfect time! We are celebrating our 10th anniversary and now be will be able to give laptops to each one of our 31 scholarships recipients. We are extremely thankful for our partnership and we know our students will be too when receiving those laptops on Saturday July 9th at our 10th Annual Gala and Recognition Dinner!”

Click here to buy tickets to their BAGSF’s 10th Anniversary Gala!


NBOP

North Bay Organizing Project (NBOP) unites diverse leaders to build leadership and grassroots power for social, economic, racial, and environmental justice. With the active participation of member organizations, including Day Labor Centers, Latino-led Family Resource Centers, Churches and Congregations, NBOP is building a powerful vehicle for civic leadership and effective grassroots organizing. The Integrated Voter Engagement Team and the Latino Student Congress are currently focused on door to door canvassing, voter registration and local and regional GOTV activities.

NBOP led and recently won Santa Rosa’s first rent stabilization ordinance and helped San Mateo gather signatures for a similar rent stabilization and just cause eviction in partnership with Faith In Action Bay Area. Sonoma County’s housing shortage is among the worst in the U.S., with many working families unable to afford rent, and with multiple families crowding into 1- and 2-bedroom apartments. Recent Coverage on NPR.

“Thank you Latino Community Foundation for this investment in our work and in our grassroots leaders. Voting is not a spectator sport. We make our neighborhood count!”


CDTech equips South LA residents and youth to invest in each other’s lives and to transform their neighborhoods. A nonprofit organization with 20 years of experience in South LA, CDTech combines grassroots participation with strategic policy understanding.  CDTech trains community members on how to canvass door-to-door to engage, listen and educate their fellow residents on vital issues. Leveraging this connection, CDTech creates community development and economic development programs that incorporate deep insight into the actual needs, desires and capabilities of South LA residents. With this fund-a-need grant they will provide mentorship, leadership development and job training to Latino Community College Students in South Los Angeles aspiring for a carer in STEM. 

“What an honor it is for CDTech to be the very first LCF Grantee in Southern California!  This is the start of building a powerful new relationship that will bring new focus and new faces to address the issues of Southern California’s Latino communities and to create new locally-led investments in equitable development of the region’s next generation of Latino leaders.”


CARECEN
CARECEN-SF provides vital services and engages in community development and advocacy to help create a vibrant and thriving Latino immigrant community in San Francisco’s Mission District and beyond. With this fund-a-need grant, CARECEN will help provide a second chance to Latino kids from the Mission District who are coming out of juvenile detention.

“We are thrilled about the Latino Community Foundation gift!  Thank you for your partnership and support.  The entire CARECEN team is pleased with this generous donation and the Second Chance Youth Program will use the funds to continue to reach young people in the community. “


youth allianceYouth Alliance offer a safe space for youth to find their purpose and path, all while becoming active members of a community that is caring, knowledgeable,  creative, and above all else inclusive. Youth Alliance strives to create thriving and equitable communities through comprehensive, innovative and culturally relevant services that equip youth and families to become change agents in their own lives and in their community. Their fund-a-need grant will be used to provide young Latino men from San Benito an opportunity to learn about their culture, become civically engaged, and instill a sense of hope and purpose.

“Youth Alliance is privileged to be funded by the Latino Community Foundation to further our work in developing the next generation of Latino leaders in the Central Coast. We sincerely thank you for believing in us.”


 

GILROY 2Latino Family Fund de Gilroy builds the confidence of Latino middle school students through an innovative grant giving program in Gilroy, California. The Latino Family Fund de Gilroy increases the participation and visibility of Latinos in the philanthropic sector and instills youth with a commitment to giving back and leadership in their community.

With their fund-a-need grant they will be able to provide middle school students in Gilroy the opportunity to be mentored by philanthropic leaders, experience first-hand the art and science of grantmaking, and become civically engaged in their communities.

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!

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 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 svelten@sff.org 
  • Check out the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s blog post about LCF’s work in Catalyzing Community Giving. 

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CALENDAR OF UPCOMING MEETINGS / RSVP WITH SARA VELTEN /
JOIN US! 

  • 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

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WOMEN HELPING WOMEN – CATALYZING COMMUNITY GIVING

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WOMEN HELPING WOMEN: HOW THREE GROUPS ARE ENABLING AND INSPIRING WOMEN OF COLOR TO LEAD CHANGE IN THEIR COMMUNITIES

Catalyzing Community Giving, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

A few years ago, the San Francisco-based Latino Community Foundation noticed a significant uptick in the number of Latino women donors asking how to get more involved in its work to help vulnerable Latino families and children. “They wanted to give back in a deeper manner,” says Sara Velten, the foundation’s VP of philanthropy.

In response, the foundation organized its first giving circle, launched in November 2012. In its first two years, that giving circle—made up of an intergenerational group of Latina women from highly diverse backgrounds—distributed $30,000 in small grants to mainly women-led groups doing powerful work in their community. “It’s unbelievable what these organizations have been able to do with [these grants],” says Velten. “And the fact that they’re getting individual support from Latinas—from mothers like them—it’s very special for them.”

The Latino Community Foundation currently has five giving circles, four of them all female. With its Catalyzing Community Giving grant, the organization is working to grow its giving circle program—and to further engage Latina donors. “The format is very appealing to women,” Velten says. “And it’s unbelievable how they now use their voices in ways they wouldn’t even think about a few years ago.”

“We know that women will give if they are also taking action,” says K. Sujata, president and CEO of the Chicago Foundation for Women, an organization with a long history of developing women and girls as leaders and philanthropists. The foundation is now using this principle to guide its Catalyzing Community Giving work to grow—and, importantly, diversify—its donor base. “The focus of our project is to engage more donors and expand the diversity of our donors, at all levels of giving,” she says.

One cohort of donors the foundation hopes to more fully engage is millennials—specifically, young women of color. The organization already boasts a giving circle made up almost entirely of millennials. But recruiting more young women donors means “finding out what moves them and what activates them,” says Sujata, adding that this cohort is particularly driven by issues related to justice.

Meanwhile, the Women’s Foundation for Greater Memphis is also using its Catalyzing Community Giving grant to recruit new women to philanthropy, albeit in a different way. The organization is helping local women of color-led civic organizations to secure more donors and more resources by enhancing their communications and messaging strategies—particularly those designed to engage donors of color in their work and their programs.

Helping these organizations develop the messaging that touches the hearts of donors of color—and taps into what executive director Ruby Bright calls their “deep spirit of giving”—is a key part of this effort. The foundation is also teaching these organizations and their leaders about fund development and how to expand their programs to achieve further impact.

Through these efforts, all three foundations are learning more than they ever knew before about how to inspire women of color to engage even more deeply in and through philanthropy. “This project is a learning lab for us,” says Bright.

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Latinos are not getting a share of the Philanthropic Pie

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Although we are experiencing one of the most dynamic demographic shifts in American history, philanthropic leadership and grantmaking is yet to catch on. It is predicted that by 2050, Latinos will be more than 30% of the United States population. Today, Latino children already make up more than 51% of all school children in California. They are our future!

According to the latest report from Hispanics in Philanthropy, less than 1.3% of philanthropic dollars are directly invested in Latino based organizations. That’s less than 2 cents out of every dollar that are explicitly designated for Latino programs. Very few Latino nonprofits are getting a piece of the philanthropic pie.  It’s very important to note that the pie is worth billions. According to Giving USA, Foundations donated an estimated $50 billion in 2013.

It’s who cuts the pie that also matters. Less than 4% of Latinos serve as Trustees at Foundations and less than 3% are CEOs. This means that very few Latinos are helping set philanthropic priorities. Taking meaningful action means that Foundations must have priorities, policies, and outreach strategies that engage a more diverse community. Recent findings from the D5 Coalition found that very few Foundations even have these priorities in place. Only 29% of Foundations have written policies about Board diversity and only 8% have policies about executive staff diversity.

Here at the Latino Community Foundation, we strongly believe in the power, ingenuity, and leadership of the Latino community. From years of experience, we know that community leaders know what works best in their communities. We partner to invest in their strategies and unify leadership around our collective vision for transformative change. For many of the organizations we fund, we are the one of their few philanthropic partners.

Despite the lack of funding and recognition from philanthropic institutions, Latino based organizations are transforming their communities. Their resiliency and resourcefulness is inspiring. Latino nonprofits don’t just offer services or administer programs; they are deeply embedded in the community and serve as the trusted institutions for all families that walk through their doors.  These organizations value relationships and operate like a family. They give both parents and youth leaders the space to be seen and heard.

For example, Somos Mayfair of San Jose, California is transforming the community by developing parent leadership. Somos Mayfair recruits, trains, and deploys hundreds of “Promotores” (peer-educators and mentors) to educate, support and engage Latino families in the community. Many of these immigrant parents are now leaders who speak up at city council meetings, have a relationship with the principal of the school, and are leading their own health and wellness programs. Somos Mayfair builds community power and shares leadership, that’s authentic parent engagement. The staff follows the community’s lead. They take the time to ask parent leaders to share their own ideas, and together, they are seeing results.

Working in partnership with these Latino nonprofits, we are seeing their unyielding dedication pay off. Countless stories of adversity being turned into success are shared and celebrated as a community. Latino organizations know what strategies work in their unique communities and it’s very important that we listen and invest in them.

If Foundations are serious about making a difference, they must invest in a more meaningful way. They must also engage a more diverse community in their decision and grantmaking process. Although these statistics are truly disheartening, the issue goes deeper than just the 1.3 percentage. Philanthropic institutions must recognize and partner with Latino leadership.

To succeed, these organizations don’t need charity; they need philanthropic partners to believe and invest in their vision and leadership.

Imagine if we could double or triple investment in the Latino community? What would that create?  Stronger leaders, more college graduates, and healthier communities. These changes wouldn’t just benefit the Latino community, they would benefit us all.

If we are to truly address inequity in this country and to create a better future for all Americans, we must recognize that Latino leadership is central to our change making strategy. Let’s think bigger!

2014 GALA GRANTEES ANNOUNCED

SARI!

We are grateful for the generosity of our donors. At this year’s 9th Annual Gala, LCF held its first-ever live auction to support the work of Latino-based nonprofit organizations across the State. Six of our partner organizations provided examples of how they would use the donations. The live Gala auction was a wild success – a total of 85 individuals made donations ranging from $100 to $5,000.

Because of your generosity, we are thrilled to announce that this week, all 6 of our participating Latino based organizations have received a $5,000 Fund-a-Need Gala grant to support their work. Help us congratulate: Somos MayfairHOMEY,  North Bay Organizing Project (NBOP), The Latina Center, Mission Graduates, and Fathers and Families of San Joaquin.

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SOMOS MAYFAIR

Somos Mayfair cultivates the dreams and the power of the Latino community by leveraging and using existing assets (people, culture, relationships, and dreams) to create lasting solutions for change. Gala funds will support a “participatory budgeting” program for parents. Camillle Llanes-Fontanilla, Executive Director, said that “There is no better way to put power in the hands of our parents than by empowering them to be in control of their local school’s finances. This is leadership development in action.”

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HOMEY

H.O.M.E.Y stands for Homies Organizing the Mission to Empower Youth. Local youth inspire HOMEY to find community driven solutions to issues of violence in San Francisco. Many of the staff at HOMEY have faced similar challenges as the youth. Working together, they are creating a new narrative for the Latino community, one rooted in high expectations and community leadership. HOMEY will use this Gala grant to support their screen printing social enterprise – Native Graphics.

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NORTH BAY ORGANIZING PROJECT

North Bay Organizing Project (NBOP) is a grassroots organization that engages and unites the Somona community to build leadership and community power.This grant will help launch the Latino Student Congress, an initiative that is developing young Latino leaders in Sonoma County High Schools by addressing issues related to the juvenile justice system and college preparedness. David Cardenas, Lead Organizer of NBOP shared that, “We will use the Gala funds to give agency to our Latino youth.”

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THE LATINA CENTER

The Latina Center engages and develops emerging Latina leaders in Richmond, California. The Latina Center makes women feel safe, supported and empowered through culturally rooted support groups, parenting courses, ESL classes, and leadership development programs. This Gala grant will support the development of a new organizational website that will also have a social enterprise component – helping low-income, Latina women promote and sell their artisan crafts online.
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MISSION GRADUATES

Mission Graduates is dedicated to creating a college going culture in San Francisco’s Mission District by increasing the number of K-12 students who are prepared for and complete a college education. For 40 years, Mission Graduates has been an important institution in the Mission. Edward Kaufman, Executive Director, said that “to receive funding that supports our work, and provides us the ability to determine where our great need is, is truly a gift! Mission Graduates will invest in parent leadership.”
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FATHERS AND FAMILIES OF SAN JOAQUIN

Fathers and Families of San Joaquin (FFSJ) is engaging and empowering the Stockton community to lead a movement for change. “FFSJ works with what we see as the most powerful tool to bring about change – our people. 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.” said Alejandra Gutierrez, FFSJ Youth Organizing Coordinator. Sammy Nunez, Executive Director, said that the Gala grant would go a very long way to “support healing through cultural art projects with local youth and to provide nutritious meal for the many Elders who walk through our doors.”

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To learn more about all LCF Grantees, please click HERE. 
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DELIVERING ON OUR PROMISE.

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In 2007, the Latino Community Foundation (LCF) announced the launch of an unprecedented commitment to invest $1 million over a four year period to support the development of Latino children and youth – The LCF Children and Youth Initiative was born. The success of the Initiative went far beyond grant dollars. Together, we collectively increased Latino access to quality early education, reduced unplanned teen pregnancies, and engaged Latino parents in their children’s education.

It is with great pride and enthusiasm that we share the Final Children and Youth Initiative (CYI) Evaluation Report. Click on this LINK to read the full report.

LCF far exceeded its own ambitious goals and was able to leverage additional critical funding for its Health and Technology initiatives. Since 2008, LCF has raised and invested a total of $2.6M in more than 40 Latino-based organizations that are making a big difference in the Latino community.

Here are some reflections and key lessons from the Children and Youth Initiative:

Latino-based organizations face tremendous challenges and opportunities in serving their communities. Working with a primarily immigrant population means that organizations require the necessary cultural competency and staff capacity to oftentimes service whole families with multiple and complex needs. Effective outreach also requires culturally appropriate strategies, particularly because Latinos remain the largest digitally unconnected ethnic group in California. Organizations must spend considerable resources to find trusted staff with the professional and linguistic competency needed to serve and empower the Latino community.

Despite the scope of the challenges that Latino-based organizations face, they are resilient, adaptive, and continue to serve as anchors in their communities. Even in the hardest of times, Latino-based organizations continue to function and meet the multifaceted needs of the growing population. CYI Community Partners did not see themselves simply as service providers; they saw themselves as vital institutions that promote a culture of self-efficacy in their communities. These organizations serve as hubs for sharing resources, developing community leaders, and promoting cultural strengths and solutions.

  1. Increase Transparency and Partnership: It is important for funders and organizations to work together to better understand how funded work is a part of the foundations theory of change.
  2. Invest in Capacity-Building: Capacity-building is not a one-size fits all model and requires significant time and resources. LCF believes that community and identity-based funders are important vehicles for this work and that grants coupled with additional learning support yields much greater impact.
  3. Work with the Community, Adapt and Remain Flexible: It is very important for funders to remain in dialogue with community leaders, include them in planning, execution, and responding to emerging needs.

OUR IMPACT

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Although the Children and Youth Initiative is now complete, our work is not finished. Today, the Children and Youth Program is and will continue to be the cornerstone of LCF’s grant-making strategy, alongside Health, Technology, and Civic Engagement. In addition to granting financial resources, LCF has launched the California Latino Agenda, which convenes a community of change makers to address issues and lead solutions for change.

We are continuously inspired by the  Latino community’s tremendous assets, optimism, and a deep desire to succeed. By working together and reaching beyond sectors, we are making a big difference for the growing Latino community in California.

Join us as we build a better future. Read the report HERE.

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We Are Philanthropy

I am a philanthropist. My mom is a philanthropist. My friends are philanthropists. We are the future of philanthropy. 

I come from a generous family that always gave back to the community. We gave every Sunday to church, we gave to school, we gave to causes, we donated our time, and we opened our home to families immigrating to this country. Our family embodied the core of what philanthropy is; even though I did not hear that word until college, it was not a word that was uttered in our home. 

Today, I will speak at the Council on Foundations Community Foundation Conference in San Diego on a panel titled, “Rising Poverty and Wealth Inequality: Will Only the 1% Drive the Future of Philanthropy?” My answer is….not if the Latino Community Foundation has anything to do about it. I will discuss the new generation of philanthropists- younger, more diverse, and hungry to build a community that wants to better this world. I will also address the need to invest more in the process of democratizing philanthropy, making it more accessible and inclusive.

At LCF see this happening every day.

  • In 2013 almost 20 women came together to form the LCF Latina Giving Circle. They individually donated funds and collectively made grants to empower Latino families through education, jobs, and leadership development.
  • Right after the President of the United States announced a way for undocumented students to remain in this country to work and study, LCF came together with Latino employee groups of major companies to raise money for these students. Through social networks and online outreach we raised $10,000 to assist students with legal and application fees. Many have now been granted Deferred Action and have brand new opportunities open to them.
  • Today we see thousands giving to aid the victims of the devastating hurricanes that have hit Acapulco in recent days.

Yes, giving by the 1% in large numbers makes the news day in and day out, and this investment is critical. There is also power in numbers—thousands can give a little and make just as a big of an impact. We know this to be true.

At the Latino Community Foundation our mission is to build a better future by investing in Latino communities. Those investments come from a growing community of Latino philanthropists who want to be a part of changing their communities for the better.

As the Chair of the National Latino Funds Alliance (NLFA) I know that the work to make philanthropy more diverse and inclusive is happening all over the US. The dozen Latino funds that are NLFA have engaged tens of thousands of Latinos to give back to their communities, investing millions in local solutions to challenging problems.

I sense that we are now at a tipping point-more Latinos are going to college than ever before, putting them in a new socio-economic reality and position to do more to help other families.  As California, and the nation, continues to grow and diversify it is the voices of these philanthropists that have the potential to turn the tide in favor of a society that is more equitable and representative of all. It is these philanthropists that will build the social fabric of our communities.

Read more: Chronicle of Philanthropy: Many Ways To Tap Into Hispanic Generosity

For me, philanthropy is very personal.

By Arnoldo Avalos, LCF Trustee

I am grateful for my teachers, little league baseball coaches, and for the after school tutors who spent those extra few minutes to help me with difficult math problems.  I was one of seven siblings in a migrant worker family and many generous people took the time to invest in me. My parents sacrificed everything to ensure that I grew into a mature, responsible adult who would make them proud.  I often reflect about all the precious time that people gave to help me develop into the person that I am today. These teachers, mentors, co-workers took a vested interest in my life and they changed me forever. It is now my time to pay it forward.

Just this month, my wife, Alma Ruth and I launched the Avalos Foundation, a 501(c)(3) private, family foundation with a mission to provide financial support for students who lack the resources to succeed. Education has been the greatest equalizer in our lives. My wife is an elementary school teacher who is passionate about giving kids the tools they need to succeed. I was born in Mexico, but the United States gave us many opportunities to create a better future for ourselves and our families. We want to ensure that young Latino students have the support that they need to do the same.

The Avalos Foundation will be funding 10 scholarships per year, with the potential for annual renewal to reach a goal of funding 40 students every year. 

We chose to focus our work on the upper Sacramento Valley region because that is where I grew up. Unfortunately, this region of California has very high unemployment rates and a median income of $20,000, compared to the National poverty level of $23,000.  The high dropout rates are simply unacceptable.  For example, in Tehama County 67% of high school students dropped out in 2009, and only 15% of residents have a bachelor’s degree. We must do more to help our students believe in a better future.

Given the dire need in the upper Sacramento Counties and because I am a product of this region, The Avalos Foundation will provide college scholarships to community college and high school students from Butte, Glenn, Tehama, Colusa, Yuba, and Sutter Counties as well the City of Pleasanton who are accepted and attend one of the University of California campuses. The scholarships will be awarded to students who demonstrate high academic achievement, dedication to community service, and financial need. 

You can like us on Facebook at http://avalosfoundation.org/Home_Page.html or visit our Foundation website at https://www.facebook.com/AvalosFoundation .  You can also help us spread the word, to ensure that we are reaching the targeted scholars. 

I wish you and your family a Happy Holiday season and I hope that you find the time to give back. There are many ways to pay it forward. You can volunteer at an after school program, donate your professional expertise by serving on a board, and you can also write a check to a cause that is close to your heart. I want to inspire a culture of giving for and by the Latino community.  I know that if we come together, we can make a difference.

If you want to go FAR, go TOGETHER.

It is time we redefine the word “philanthropist” and extend its meaning to include a more realistic picture of who gives in the U.S. The tools and rewards of organized philanthropy are no longer solely in the hands of wealthy donors and their families.  Philanthropy can be very exciting, especially when you can get together to give.

            Here at LCF, we are launching our first                             intergenerational Latina Giving Circle.

It is 2012 and philanthropists come from all walks of life. Collective giving models are growing by the day and their power reaches far beyond the size of their donation. Individuals no longer need to be wealthy to be philanthropic.  Even though women earn less money than men, they continue to give a higher percentage of their income and are leading the majority of the giving circles in the U.S.

According to Giving USA, in 2011 alone, total charitable giving approached $300 billion. Nearly $218 billion came from individuals.

So what is Philanthropy?

Philanthropy is the love of mankind that results in practical acts. Philanthropy is derived from the Greek words “philos”, which means loving and “anthropos” which means humankind. But philanthropy can be difficult to define, because it is profoundly individual and by definition voluntary. Today the term “philanthropy” refers to not only the act of giving, but also to an extensive network of private and public foundations, giving circles, and diverse individual donors that support numerous causes in order to improve the quality of life for people around the globe.

Informal giving and identity based philanthropy has a very long history in virtually every country, culture, and religion.  Native American communities have many traditions of giving rituals, and “Zakat” or “Giving” is one of the five pillars of Islam.  African American churches partnered with Freedmen’s Aid society to provide assistance to newly emancipated slaves.  Latinos traditionally give through family networks and Latino immigrants send billions of dollars home in remittances.

German Jews in Boston began the earliest formal identity based philanthropy called the Jewish Federation, with the initial goal of helping immigrant families adjust to life in the U.S. Today, the Jewish Federation is the second largest philanthropic network in the United States after the United Way of America.

The Asian Americans/ Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, which has more than 1,000 giving circle members, recently launched a campaign to build a national movement of giving circles across the U.S. – to develop leadership and change the prevailing notions of who can be a philanthropist. Following in these footsteps, LCF will launch its first Latina Giving Circle this month with a group of 16 committed Latina women from diverse backgrounds and experiences.

What is a Giving Circle?

Giving Circles are made up of a group of individuals who pool their money and collectively decide how to invest their dollars. But Giving Circles are much more than a group of people getting together to give.  They have become a place of empowerment. Circles vary in size, structure, and vision depending on who is leading it and why. Members span all ages, professions, ethnicities, and income levels. Members want to do more than write checks, they want to share and gain skills and knowledge as well as build new relationships and stonger community bonds.

Giving Circle members gain a better understanding of the issues, root causes, and complexities of making and sustaining change.  A recent report by the Community Investment organization “The Impacts of Giving Together” explains the power of community philanthropy for people who have traditionally been excluded and explains that collective giving models are a viable way to reinvent philanthropy to reflect the nation’s changing demographics. Giving Circle members build community power, leverage resources, and gain a deeper sense of civic responsibility.

“Giving circles are a way to democratize philanthropy by encouraging solutions from any member of a community.”

The next decade of philanthropy will be full of dynamic change and collective giving models are already increasing in size and popularity. It is time that we inspire and engage more Latino leaders to participate and benefit from joining and leading Giving Circles.

If you want to join a learning community made up of passionate women, join LCF’s inaugural Latina giving circle – It is where friendship, leadership, and commitment to the Latino community come full circle.

At a time when many Latino families have less, this is one way to do more.  Contact Sara Velten, svelten@sff.org today to join our existing circle or to start your own.

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”-African Proverb