By: Amalia Chamorro, Vice President of Policy at the United Way of the Bay Area, Latina Giving Circle member since 2014.
My family emigrated from Peru in the 1980s during a period of political unrest. Like other immigrant families, we came to the U.S. because my parents wanted to provide a better life for their children. I’m grateful for all that my parents sacrificed and all of the opportunities afforded to us by our adopted home country. One of my proudest moments was standing next to my parents and getting sworn in as a U.S. citizen. One of the most empowering things we get to do as citizens is to exercise our right to vote – and this year there is so much at stake!
The promise and power of the Latino vote has been much debated in past elections and in the current cycle. Nationally, 16% of the U.S. population is Latino. This represents 10% of registered voters. In California, Latinos make up 38% of the state population but only 17% of likely voters, and Latinos are still underrepresented in elected office. 2016 is critical for the Latino vote – not only are we in a position to sway the presidential election, we also have a stake in local and state ballot measures, and other elected offices.
While I have made a career in public policy, I never thought I would be able to make a monetary contribution to a cause that would make a difference – I never thought I could become a philanthropist. I thought being a philanthropist meant you had to have a lot of money. Then I joined the Latina Giving Circle and realized what an impact a group of us can make when we pool our resources together and fund our shared priorities.
I’m very proud to announce that last week, our San Francisco Latina Giving Circle granted a total $20,000 to three inspiring Latino-based organizations dedicated to empowering Latinos to get civically engaged and to get out the vote – North Bay Organizing Project in Sonoma County, Mi Familia Vota in the Fresno/Central Valley area, and Latina Coalition of Silicon Valley. In the last three years, we have invested a total of $100,000. We funded these organizations because our circle recognizes what’s at stake this year, and we have a vested interest in responding to the lack of philanthropic dollars funding Latino civic engagement, voter registration, and get out the vote efforts.
One of our grantees, Davin Cardenas from NBOP, captured the spirit of our grant-making: “If we are to transform the structures that keep communities marginalized, we need to develop the courageous leaders to build relationships and take action. Voter participation is inherently tied to the political decisions that are being made about the neighborhoods in which we live.”
I believe the Latino community can take action to make 2016 the year in which the Latino vote was the decisive factor in politics. I’m proud to be part of building a movement of Latino philanthropists with the Latino Community Foundation – as a member of a giving circle, it’s empowering to be a philanthropist who can can directly make a difference and inspire the next generation of leaders to get involved. I welcome you to join us movement. Together, we are stronger.
The Latino Community Foundation passionately believes in the power of the Latino community to determine its own needs and solutions. To join our Latino Giving Circle, there is a $1,000 per year financial commitment. 100% of those funds will go back out to the Latino community in the form of grants. To join, please email Anna Gagliuffi, Philanthropy Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or visit our website for more information: www.latinocf.org