These Funders are Tuned into Latino Needs in Philadelphia

The inclusion of the Latino community in philanthropy has been a hot topic around Philadelphia, lately. Top foundations, including the Philadelphia Foundation, and other Latino-focused nonprofits in town have been talking about how the city’s growth and development hinges on the well-being of the city's growing Latino population. So funders are working hard to identify the Latino community's greatest needs.

There are some new philanthropic leaders in the Philadelphia area right now. It's a diverse generation now filling roles traditionally held by white men, who have dominated the industry since it began. To address this shift, the Philanthropy Network of Greater Philadelphia’s fall conference topic was “Learning and Leading Together in a Diverse Landscape.”

“There is an increasing recognition that we have a growing Latino and immigrant population that make up a sizable part of our future,” said Maari Porter, executive director of Philanthropy Network, in an interview with AL DÍA News. “We need to use demographic data and disseminate it to better serve people in need.”

Here are some foundations that are paying attention to the needs of Latinos in the Philadelphia area right now.

Wells Fargo Foundation

The bank funder’s senior vice president and community affairs manager, Aldustus Jordan, says that at least 30 percent of the foundation’s funding goes to Latino organizations. A lot of these grants have been going to neighborhood revitalization projects in historically Latino neighborhoods.

“Some funding goes directly to Hispanic organizations, but there are also other initiatives we support in areas with high Hispanic population that don’t go directly to Latino-run organizations,” Jordan said. “Many of the nonprofits we support do not provide the exact percentages of the populations that they serve by race or ethnicity.”

Related: Wells Fargo Regional Foundation: Philadelphia Grants

Lenfest Foundation

Philadelphia-based Lenfest Foundation is committed to early learning, out-of-school programs for middle schoolers, and career pathways for youth. One Latino group that Lenfest has supported recently is Congreso de Latinos Unidos.

Congreso assists the local Latino community with education and workforce training, family and housing services, and health and wellness promotion. It’s a well-established nonprofit, having been on the scene since 1977, providing many types of social, economic, education and health services, leadership development, and advocacy services.

Related: The Lenfest Foundation: Philadelphia Grants

Comcast Foundation

Comcast is headquartered in Philadelphia and consistently gives back to the Philadelphia community, but its giving tends to have a national reach. Generally, the Comcast Foundation invests in programs and nonprofits in the fields of expanding digital literacy, promoting community service and building leadership. However, this locally based foundation is also making the Latino community a priority. Comcast has worked with Latino groups like Aspira, Esperanza and Congreso in recent years.

Related: What's the Comcast Foundation Up to in Philly?

Giving circles are emerging as a big opportunity for Latino communities in cities across America. Not only do these types of philanthropic vehicles diversify the field of giving, they also allow groups to support the communities they closely identify with. For example, Philanthropy Network recently piloted a new giving circle of Latinos giving money to benefit other Latinos.

It seems that funding social services in Latino communities might not be enough. The actual needs of the local Latino community haven't always been expressed or heard in meaningful ways that can guide the actions of philanthropy groups. Instead of just funding standard categories like education, health, and human services programs here, funders need to tap into the root causes of Latino concerns and problems and really listen to what grassroots groups have to say. More Latino leadership is needed in Philadelphia to address the population's needs effectively and encourage young Latinos to get involved in the philanthropic sector as they enter adulthood, and as they start their own families.