It has been over a month since California fully reopened, and though hopes for significant improvements in further preventing the spread of COVID-19 were high, we are now seeing a surge in new cases throughout the state. Variants of the virus remind us that the pandemic – and our collective commitment to protecting our community – is not over.
We must continue pushing our creativity in outreach and stay connected to those on the ground. At the Latino Community Foundation, we are proud to announce another round of investments in 14 grassroot organizations across the state to get us to the finish line. Through our investments, we prioritized regions with the lowest vaccination rates, as well as youth-led organizations that are equipping our young people to rise as advocates within their communities. The list of mighty organizations is shared below.
We Aren’t There Yet
The rising number of vaccinated Latinos give us hope, and it challenges us to keep pushing. Thus far, 5.7 million Latinos in California are fully vaccinated, and more than 1 million Latinos have received the first dose. That means we still have 6.5 million family members, neighbors, and loved ones in need of a vaccination. This figure is especially worrisome because new cases of the highly contagious Delta variant account for about 83% of current COVID-19 cases in the United States. And, according to the White House Covid-19 Response Team and Public Health officials, virtually all recent COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are occurring among unvaccinated people (a rate as high as 99.8% in places like Los Angeles). This reality underscores that contracting this devastating disease is almost entirely preventable.
Now is not the time to let up. Although masks can protect us, experts agree that vaccines remain the best protection against COVID-19, including the highly infectious Delta variant. We need to pound the pavement and meet our community where they are to eliminate any barriers to vaccine access and accurate information, especially among our youth and men whose vaccination rates are trailing behind other groups.
All of Us Are the Best Advocates
“We are doing this vaccination work because no one is a better advocate for us than our own community. We need to be out there talking to our tias, tios, primos and primas making sure they all get the vaccine,” explained Jose Salvador Orellana, Lead Organizer at LOUD For Tomorrow in Kern County, a predominantly Latino County where 60 percent of its Latino population has not yet been vaccinated.
LOUD For Tomorrow is battling COVID-19 by building trust, answering questions, and inspiring hope one person at a time.
“The biggest challenge we are seeing now in getting our community vaccinated is that many folks think the pandemic is over— but, it hasn’t ended,” added Jose.
What is also clear is that we must adapt how we engage our community and ensure what we share is fresh and dynamic. That’s why LCF partnered with Las Cafeteras and Youth Speaks to update our engagement toolkit with new social media videos – take a moment and share with your friends, family, and network today!
Invest in Mental Health
Undoubtedly, our progress has been possible thanks to the countless Latino-led grassroot organizations like LOUD For Tomorrow and our growing list of community partners. They are the loving, caring hands for our community day in and day out. But the crisis-response work they often take on comes at a price. To continue meeting the moment and to be well-equipped for the future, our grassroots leaders need access to opportunities for healing, including time off to be with their families and wellness retreats.
Funders and policy makers must recognize this physical, emotional, and psychological toll. Doing so requires targeted investments in core support grants to help them meet their mission. The future of these vital organizations, and that of the beautiful communities they serve, depend on it.
LCF’s Latest Vaccination Partners
· Antelope Valley: SALVA
· Fresno: Center for Arts and Technology
· Fresno: Cultiva la Salud
· Fresno: Fresno Barrios Unidos
· Inland Empire: Unidos por La Música
· Kern: Centro de Unidad Popular Benito Juarez
· Kern: Loud for Tomorrow
· Kern: South Kern Sol
· Kings: Valley Voices
· Redwood City: Sienna Youth Center
· San Benito: Youth Alliance
· San Jose: Si Se Puede Collective
· San Mateo: Nuestra Casa of East Palo Alto
· Santa Barbara: La Casa de La Raza
Find COVID-19 vaccine locations near you and make an appointment today at http://myturn.ca.gov/
Written by Diana Otero, Senior Director of Special Programs at LCF