By: Camila Andrea Mena, Program and Data Fellow
While in college, I developed a deep passion for data and its ability to show how people’s behaviors and interactions with the rest of the world shape their experiences and access to opportunities. Analyzing demographic data and economic trends helped me understand the world around me in ways that are not immediately visible. From studying the impact poverty has on children’s development to understanding the relationships between housing accessibility and mental health, data tells a story of how our society functions and how we can work to improve it.
While having this perspective has been instrumental in strengthening my passion for seeking justice for marginalized communities, joining the Latino Community Foundation (LCF) as a Program and Data Fellow has shown me the power of data and leadership when accompanied by love, generosity, and kindness.
Just in 2018, LCF awarded 110 grants totaling $2,352,931 to 76 organizations – doubling its grantmaking since 2017. While helping the organizations we support gain access to resources is vital for their success, one of the most important things we provide them with is a platform to increase their visibility. Our Latino Giving Circles, Latino Nonprofit Accelerator, and other initiatives help develop a powerful network of Latino nonprofits across the State. I have seen first hand the power of this work. LCF makes leaders feel seen, heard, loved and supported. This gives people hope and confidence to lead courageously.
Not just Numbers.
To share the story of our grantmaking, we maintain records of our community partners (or grantees) in order to give ourselves, our funders, donors, and partners a clear view of the causes and geographical areas that we invest in. We currently fund organizations throughout all of California across a diverse set of causes impacting Latinos including education, immigration, health, LGBTQ rights, and civic engagement. Latinos don’t live single-issue lives, and the best way to address these issues is to invest in local leadership. That’s the thread that connects our work.
To increase our reach and amplify our mission, we continuously add Latino-based organizations addressing the socio-economic issues affecting Latinos to our database and Latino Power Map. The Power Map is the first of its kind in California. We have mapped almost 400 grassroots groups and literally put them on the map!
Love and Justice. Beyond the Numbers.
LCF’s commitment to Latinos goes beyond numbers. We value the work that the organizations we support are doing and we know that there is no better way to uplift Latinos, than by developing deep connections with the organizations closest to them and our Giving Circle members who also invest in them. As a Fellow, learning about the importance of nurturing these connections to galvanize our community towards systemic change has been essential for my growth while at LCF.
I plan on continuing to use data to understand our society and support my advocacy efforts. However, I will always pair it with the often-unquantifiable manifestations of love and kindness. How we lead matters just as much as what we invest.