By: Jacqueline Martinez Garcel, CEO, Latino Community Foundation
Growing up in Washington Heights, I was surrounded by brilliant, creative, hard-working people. Yet like many of the youth in my neighborhood, people set the bar for my future shockingly low. For a young Dominican woman, the statistics said to me: either become a young mother or settle for a job that would barely pay the bills.
Everything shifted for me when a math teacher saw my potential and demanded that I start to expect more for myself. With her guidance and the unconditional support of my parents, I earned admission to an Ivy League school, even though just two years before I had no idea what an Ivy league education meant.
At the end of the day, what Mrs. McKinsey did for me was simply open a window to all the possibilities the world had in store. It was up to me to pursue them. But without her and my family, I’m not sure I would have had the imagination or the fortitude to set the bar higher. She and my parents created a culture of hope, a culture of expectations and a culture of possibility that transformed my life forever.
A commitment to giving all of California’s youth a culture of hope and expectations was at the heart of Latino Community Foundation’s Children and Youth Initiative – our very first grantmaking venture. Over ten years, we learned key lessons that shaped the values and the mission of this Foundation. La Cultura Cura, our brand-new impact report for the Children and Youth Initiative, shares highlights from the program, profiles of the incredible community organizations, and strategies that were fundamental to our success. Learn alongside with us what it will take to promote healing and opportunity for all of our youth.
Through our efforts, we’ve demonstrated that when young people are rooted in their history and culture and exposed to a wide range of possibilities for their future, they are healthier, more active in their communities, and more likely to succeed in school. We’ve also learned that it is that sense of hope, confidence, and connection that is the best antidote to unwanted teen pregnancies.
In addition to the programmatic learnings of our efforts, we also share key lessons about how we in philanthropy can lead with integrity building real trust and partnership with nonprofits because relationships matter most. Most importantly, we learned that initiatives such as this build the power of Latino leaders and nonprofits across the state to lead with confidence and love. Together, we are a force to be reckoned with.