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!