Latino Community Foundation, the Organization That Wants to Empower Latino Leadership

Latino Community Foundation BeLatina Latinx
Photo: Getty.

In a state like California, where Latinos are the fastest growing and densest demographic group — there is an estimated population of 15 million — only one percent of philanthropic dollars are invested in Latino businesses or initiatives.

That’s why the work of organizations like the Latino Community Foundation is so critical.

Founded in 1989 as an affinity group of the United Way of the Bay Area, the Latino Community Foundation emerged as an initiative to increase workplace giving to Latino organizations.

It wasn’t until 2003 that Sandra Hernandez, then President and CEO of The San Francisco Foundation, established the foundation, appointed new leadership, and expanded its work.

Since then, Board Chair Aida Alvarez and Vice-Chair Arabella Martinez have set LCF on a growth trajectory. The Foundation led multiple initiatives to improve thousands of Latino families’ health and well-being in the Bay Area between 2006 and 2015.

In 2016, LCF became an independent statewide foundation with a mission to unleash the power of Latinos in California, its website explains.

Uniquely positioned at the intersection of corporate, political, and grassroots power, LCF creates and nurtures relationships designed to accelerate impact in unprecedented ways.

To date, LCF has created the largest network of Latino philanthropists in the country, invested more than $17 million in 150 Latino-led grassroots nonprofits across the state, and launched one of the most extensive campaigns to mobilize the Latino vote in California. 

The Latino Community Foundation hosts the Latino Nonprofit Accelerator, an innovative capacity-building initiative that gives grassroots nonprofits access to world-class branding and fundraising support. This initiative has already helped 18 organizations improve their communications, double their fundraising confidence and raise $7 million in new funds.

LCF’s most recent campaigns, “Get Out the Vote” and “Census,” reached more than 31 million Latinos. Through strategic grantmaking and a multi-media effort to educate and mobilize Latino communities at major civic events, LCF helped California achieve its highest Latino voter registration rate in history: 73%.

Just a few weeks ago, in commemoration of the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Latino Community Foundation announced the investment of $2 million to increase vaccination rates among the state’s Latino population.

As Yahoo reported, Latinos continue to lag woefully behind in access to the vaccine. As of March 25, only 19.2% of Latinos had received at least one vaccine dose, even though they account for 56% of COVID cases in California. Statewide, 57,091 people have died from the virus. Of those, nearly half have been Latinos.

LCF then partnered with Latino-led organizations across the state with an action plan that includes investing in grassroots organizations, a multimedia outreach strategy, and advocacy

“We honor Latinos as essential by prioritizing their lives and putting them in front of the line for the vaccine. This is a year to heal and rebuild. We can accelerate equity when we invest in Latino-led organizations and prioritize the economic wellbeing of those that have put their lives at highest risk throughout this pandemic,” said Jacqueline Martinez Garcel, CEO of LCF. “By working with these organizations, we build a path forward for communities to heal from the trauma of this past year and re-emerge as a more just, equitable California.”