- In Colorado, about 10-11% of the population is foreign-born.
- Latinos make up 22% of the population, that’s roughly over 1.1 million.
There’s no denying the size of the immigrant and Latino community in Colorado. And because of their size, their importance to the State (and the country) cannot be underestimated.
That’s why there are so many foundations and nonprofits out there with the sole purpose of supporting the Latino community. The work that nonprofits do is invaluable.
But who helps these organizations?
Who gives them the tools they need to continue offering their services?
Who helps them survive, grow, and thrive?
The truth is that nonprofits need to be supported as much as possible. And that’s what the Latino Community Foundation of Colorado does.
The Latino Community Foundation of Colorado to the rescue
“What we do is really help build the nonprofit infrastructure of the Latino communities so that they can provide the best services to the community that they can,” explains Carlos Martínez, president and CEO of the Latino Community Foundation of Colorado, “we try to have a pretty good reach to support communities throughout the entire state.”
The Latino Community Foundation of Colorado (or LCFC) is a statewide organization that works with around 120 different organizations to support them, boost their work, and help them connect to people.
It was founded in 2007 by a group of Latino families when they realized philanthropy wasn’t really supporting Latino communities, and existing organizations needed help, too. They ended up creating a vast network of nonprofits.
When individuals need support, they can easily refer them to the nonprofit (or nonprofits) that can help them. But their goal it’s not just about connecting people and organizations. The LCFC’s main mission is to help these organizations themselves.
LCFC: the big brother to Latino nonprofits
When Carlos Martínez joined the organization, about six and a half years ago, he was thrilled with being able to create social and systemic change among the Latino community.
“The way that we look to advance our mission and our vision is that we invest through three different ways in the Latino community: building capacity, funding and philanthropy, and connecting community.”
By focusing on these areas, the LCFC offers grants that help organizations, individuals, leaders, and communities.
“Our mission is to build the collective power of Latinos. We work hand-in-hand with our community to create culturally relevant strategies that influence and create systemic and social change.”
But this money doesn’t come from nowhere; the Latino Community Foundation of Colorado is a non-endowed foundation. This means that they don’t have an endowment that they can tap into to do their work. So, every year, they raise money to help the community.
Changing the narrative for an equal future
The LCFC looks to drive a more authentic narrative about Latinos. But what exactly does a “more authentic narrative” mean?
“I think that piece of an authentic narrative is extremely key,” says Carlos, “it’s allowing people to be who they are and helping bring out the best in them.”
But that’s not everything it means; it’s also about showing the reality of things and not letting stereotypes and preconceived ideas affect how a community is seen and treated.
“That authentic narrative really is about appreciating the diversity of our community at all levels, and embracing that diversity of identities.”
Hundreds of people need help, and for the LCFC, it doesn’t matter who they identified as, it could be Chicanos, Latinx, Latinos, immigrants, Afro-Latinos, Caribbeans. Although, the true narrative they want to create goes beyond tags and intents to bring everyone together and make a place that is inclusive of the Latino community and where everyone gets the same opportunities.
“It’s really expanding the current narrative.”
Diversity and accessibility are KEY
And while the organization focuses on the Latino community, their work doesn’t end there. They are also dedicated to helping the immigrant community as a whole, including all immigrants, not necessarily just Latinos.
Another big thing they focus on is accessibility (and in this case, it’s closely connected to diversity). While English is the official language of the US, not everyone might be as versed in it.
“We’re very big on language justice.”
The LCFC’s way of allowing everyone the same access to information is by having everything in two languages: English and Spanish. And while that entails a lot more work, time, and resources, they’re happy to do it. “That’s what we do.”
Ayuda Colorado: fighting coronavirus
When COVID-19 hit, the Latino Community Foundation of Colorado knew they needed to do something.
They created the program Ayuda Colorado to help Latino nonprofits and immigrant and refugee serving organizations. The program has 3 branches.
One of them is their Ayuda Fund, which provides emergency assistance to the community that could be used either for housing, rent, or any economic situations families may need assistance.
But they also assist nonprofits themselves with grants. The grants can help them with their general operating support or assisting with other ways to ensure their stability as they go through this pandemic.
They can also be used to provide support to the staff.
“When you’re providing direct assistance to communities, you’re constantly hearing stories of crisis, trauma. And hearing these tragedies, day after day, is a lot for the frontline staff, they’re not used to handling crises like that on a daily basis.”
These wellness grants can be used by nonprofits to take care of their staff so that they can, in turn, keep supporting their communities.
“So far, the impact of these programs has been huge. We’ve already given out close to a million dollars. Our first round of funding was basically focused on technology. Then we also gave some basic-needs grants to help people with financial assistance.”
Building a brighter future for the Latino community
In 2021, the Latino CFC will be launching an extensive capacity-building initiative to help Latino and immigrant nonprofits stabilize and rebuild themselves to be a better organization than they were before.
Rebuilding is the keyword here, as these organizations will need more help than ever after the pandemic, especially because Latino communities have been disproportionately affected and need the most support.
“We’ll be providing a lot of capacity-building assistance to nonprofits and helping them as they look at rebuilding. We will put a lot of resources into providing a no-interest loan fund for nonprofits because a lot of our communities never have access to capital.”
In a way, they aim to rebuild nonprofits to be strong organizations in their communities. In a way, it’s a wellness cycle: the LCFC helps nonprofits, nonprofits help communities, and communities inspire the LCFC to keep helping nonprofits.
“I think the biggest achievement the LCFC has made is to be able to elevate the Latino nonprofit sector in Latino communities,” states Carlos. And truly, I can’t help but agree, the mission of the Latino Community Foundation of California is indeed a selfless and generous mission that needs to continue.
If you want to get in touch with the LCFC, the way to do it is by going to LatinoCFC.org; there you can find more information and a way to contact them. They will be more than glad to help you.