As the number of Latinos in California's Central Valley nears 50 percent of the total population of the region, the Latino Community Foundation has announced a new initiative to fund Hispanic-led organizations up and down the valley to the tune of $1 million.
As part of the "Roots of Latino Power" initiative, the foundation, in partnership with the James Irvine Foundation, will invest $1 million in 37 Latino-led organizations across the valley over this next year — including four based in Kern County, according to a press release.
"The Central Valley remains one of the fastest growing regions in California, with Latinos leading the way," said Jacqueline Martinez Garcel, CEO of the Latino Community Foundation. "It is imperative to invest in their leadership because only then will everyone win across the state.”
Besides financial support, the organizations will also receive technical support from nationally recognized coaches on communications and fundraising, the organization said in the release. The ultimate goal? To "build a network of Latino-led organizations driving positive change for families and building civic and economic power in the region."
The foundation is not a partisan organization, Martinez Garcel said. And rather than molding leaders, the fund is designed to support leaders and local efforts that already exist.
However, the foundation is interested, the CEO said, in seeing the fast-growing Latino demographic better represented at all levels of government.
The four Kern County-based organizations will each receive between $20,000 and $25,000 in grants.
· South Kern Sol
· Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment
· LOUD for Tomorrow; and
· Latina Leaders of Kern County
Jose Orellana, a lead organizer with the fledgling group, LOUD for Tomorrow, said the grant will help fund the Delano-based group's activities, including a summer leadership academy starting next week.
"We're young. We just started last September," Orellana said. "We are so grateful to have received a $25,000 grant from the Latino Community Foundation."
Not only is the organization young, its staff and volunteers are young, too. The group is comprised of individuals age 18 to 24, said Orellana, who is 21.
"Our main mission is to promote space for young people to work in and transform the community, where we can exercise our power through civic engagement and community organizing," he said.
The Latino Community Foundation will officially kick off the initiative on Thursday in Fresno.
Don Howard, CEO of The James Irvine Foundation, said in the release that the foundation's goal in supporting the grants is "a California where all low-income workers have the power to advance economically.
"This investment represents an important step in that direction," Howard said, "and we are proud to partner with the Latino Community Foundation and others to ensure the residents of the Central Valley have the opportunities to thrive economically and as civic leaders.”