Foundation invests $1M in Valley Latino-led nonprofits

By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN

FRESNO – Four Tulare County nonprofits received a boost in funding last week thanks to an initiative to help educate and create Latino civic leaders.

On July 18, The Latino Community Foundation (LCF) held a press conference in Fresno to announce a $1 million investment in 37 Latino-led nonprofits in the Central Valley. The four Tulare County nonprofits that received funding were: ACT for Women and Girls, $25,000; El Quinto Sol de America, $25,000; Changing Minds One at a Time Foundation, $15,000; Nuevo Comienzo, $15,000.

ACT for Women and Girls is a reproductive justice organization focusing on leadership development, community organizing, advocacy, and policy change in Tulare County communities.

Lindsay-based El Quinto Sol de América’s mission is to utilize art, culture and education to help create more just and equitable communities, including achieving a higher quality of life for farm worker communities.

Mending Fences and Changing Minds serves at-risk youth in Cutler-Orosi through mentoring programs, recreational activities and community based events and projects.

Nuevo Comienzo, which means “new beginning,” is also a nonprofit based in Cutler-Orosi that provides afterschool teen pregnancy prevention and youth development programs. The Latino Commission created the nonprofit in 2003 as a community center offering drug and alcohol outpatient treatment, a transitional home for men, referral services, emergency food pantry and clothes distribution.

Masha Chernyak, spokesperson for the Latino Community Foundation (LCF), said nearly 50% of the Valley’s population is Latino and they are the driving force of the economy. The funding, which was provided in partnership with The James Irvine Foundation, aims to ensure that Latinos benefit from economic growth in the region they help create and take on leadership roles in their communities to give Latinos a greater voice in the valley.

“Money is not everything when it comes to ensuring that the next generation of civic leaders,” Chernyak said. “Love and respect are part of a bigger, bolder and more ambitious agenda.”

Dubbed “Roots of Latino Power” by the LCF, the initiative chose Latino-led organizations working on the front lines of creating opportunities for Latino families and youth to thrive as civic leaders. Chernyak said 15 community leaders, including Tulare County Supervisor Eddie Valero, began meeting three months ago to pitch nonprofits to receive the funding. The groups then developed a rubric for selecting the nonprofits as well as how much money they receive. Criteria included the type of work they are doing, their reputation in the community and how their missions fit into the initiative’s goals. She said special consideration was given to organizations with less than $500,000 in funding.

These organizations will also receive technical support from nationally recognized coaches on communications and fundraising. The ultimate goal is to build a network of Latino-led organizations driving positive change for families and building civic and economic power in the region.

“This is one of the most important investments for the Latino Community Foundation. We strongly believe in the visionary leadership of our grassroots leaders and youth. Investing to amplify their power and advance their vision will have a transformative impact on the present and future of the Valley,” said Jacqueline Martinez-Garcel, CEO of LCF. “The Central Valley remains one of the fastest growing regions in California, with Latinos leading the way. It is imperative to invest in their leadership because only then will everyone win across the state.”

Chernyak said LCF has the largest network of Latino philanthropists in the country and has invested millions of dollars in improving the livelihood of Latino families. It is the only statewide foundation solely focused on investing in Latino youth and families in California. To learn more, visit

“The James Irvine Foundation’s goal is a California where all low-income workers have the power to advance economically,” said Don Howard, CEO of The James Irvine Foundation.

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