“One light feeds another. One strong family lends strength to more. One engaged community can ignite those around it. This is the power of the light we carry.” – Michelle Obama, The Light we Carry
The last couple of years have uprooted us all. Throwing us into flux without much relief or respite. The weight of a global pandemic—layered by the trauma and toxicity of racism wrecking lives and communities, school shootings ravaging young lives and destroying families, images of bombs falling on schools and hospitals in a not-so-distant land—has felt unbearable at times. Maybe because we are no longer sheltered in our homes. Or, perhaps because of the length of time we’ve been forced to grapple with uncertainty. Regardless of the reason, this year has felt harder than the past two for so many people. Through it all, we have witnessed our loved ones contend with illnesses, raise children, buy homes, care for parents, and guard the fragility of our mental wellbeing.
Through each day, we’ve moved through the phases of “it’s all too much” to “I’ve got this.” We thrusted ourselves forward. One step at a time. Forward. Tuning into that still small voice that implores us to push through. Do our part. Finish what we’ve started. Even as you navigate through an incomplete and chaotic world, you find your balance, cling to hope, and stabilize your footing. You press on.
This is the context of the work led and supported by the Latino Community Foundation (LCF) in 2022. At the beginning of the year, we set out to invest in community healing—and build a new normal. When the year started, our goals felt underwhelming in comparison to the extravagant problems facing Latinos across California. Yet, with a relentless pursuit for change, LCF and our partners delivered in ways that will have a generational impact on families, communities, our state’s economy, and our nation’s democracy. While the work is far from done, the progress has been palpable. It continues to be fueled by the unremitting determination of leaders committed to justice and equity.
In 2022, LCF invested $5.8 million—a grantmaking record—in 179 organizations working to unleash the civic and economic power of Latinos. We hosted 36 convenings to strengthen community ties, mobilize voters, connect entrepreneurs, activate civic participation, and catalyze economic mobility. LCF also took the lead in shaping the narrative of the power of Latinos as voters, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, community leaders, and changemakers—with over 100 media mentions in national, state, and regional news outlets.
The results: we leveraged over $300 million in federal and state funds to build the new normal we long for our families and communities; and Latino youth defied predictions making it out to the polls in record numbers in key districts of the state.
All the while, we raised $24 million to advance the mission of LCF in 2022. The vision of our Latino Power Fund continues to bear fruit. In less than 18 months since we launched the Fund, we’ve raised over $31 million to ensure our work to increase civic and political power is sustained for the long run. To that end, LCF will have nearly $14 million set aside for a mission aligned endowment and a $2 million reserve by the end of 2022. This is the strongest and healthiest financial position LCF has been in. Most importantly, we’ve set a higher bar for Latino-led organizations across the nation and state, demonstrating what is possible.
At the onset of the year, the goals didn’t feel like enough. Nevertheless, we persisted in pursuing a better path forward. Shining our light every step of the way because the light we carry is enough. Knowing that when we choose to let that light shine, others can fuel there’s from it. Then, together we can ignite the change we desperately need in our world.
By: Jacqueline Martinez Garcel, CEO, Latino Community Foundation