COVID-19 has turned our world upside down, and at times, it’s hard to know how to begin to help. As individuals and families continue to struggle, giving circles are responding to meet the needs of their neighbors.The Peninsula Latina Giving Circle, established in 2014, is continuing its tradition of pooling together resources to support other Latinx women, children and families in need. The Peninsula LGC is one of 22 giving circles forming the Latino Giving Circle Network of the Latino Community Foundation.
This group began organically as a group of women sought ways to support their communities, specifically those made up of Latina women and children.
Bego Lozano, one of the founding members of the Peninsula Latina Giving Circle, believes strongly in the principle that philanthropy is most effective when people who come from communities directly give back, since they wholly understand the lived experience of those in need of support. The giving circle she founded embodies this spirit and gives between $30,000-$40,000 per year to a variety of grassroots Latino-led nonprofit organizations in the San Mateo County of California. Their funding priorities include: early childhood education, mental health, and power building/civic engagement.
Ayudando Latinos A Soñar (ALAS)
One of their recent grantee organizations is Ayudando Latinos A Soñar (ALAS), a Latino centered nonprofit that began with cultural arts programs for children and has expanded well beyond its original mission, adding culturally centered mental health services and social justice advocacy. Programs include Ballet Folklorico Tonantzin, Mariachi Media Luna, La Misma Luna, which provides counseling services, and the Mexitli Education Program, a free afternoon tutoring program to support English learners. The Peninsula LGC’s grant has allowed ALAS to secure office space and hire mental health professionals. ALAS also provides outreach to farmworkers along the North Coast and has developed several initiatives to provide both crisis support and long term assistance to farmworkers and their families.
Another grant recipient is Family Connections, a free bilingual family learning community meant to serve families with young children all over San Mateo County. They specifically target families that do not qualify for state and federally funded preschool, but are still considered low income in San Mateo County. Family Connections seeks to fill the gaps and provide quality early learning programs for children and their families, no matter their income status. Their early education services are parent participatory and play-based, allowing young children to develop and learn alongside their caregivers in a safe environment.
The Siena Youth Center
Like in many other communities, COVID-19 has laid bare the disproportionate impact on Latinx residents of San Mateo County. Since the coronavirus pandemic began, Peninsula Latina Giving Circle has allocated $15,000 of emergency funding to fulfill grantees’ greatest needs. Lozano noted that most organizations simply needed general operating expenses so that they could provide food assistance, PPE, virtual programming, and Wi-Fi access. One recipient organization, the Siena Youth Center, needed a new industrial fridge for their food pantry. Usually, they serve about 40 families a month–when COVID hit, they started serving almost 400. Additionally, many community partners have asked for Peninsula Latina Giving Circle to help tell their stories. For many of these nonprofits, their fundraising has been heavily impacted, as annual events have either turned virtual or been cancelled altogether.
What began as a project of collective agency, allyship, and working together has taken on new meaning during a time when so many of us are suffering. The women of Peninsula Latina Giving Circle, including Philanthropy Together’s Executive Director Sara Lomelin, wanted to showcase the importance of showing up as true partners with their nonprofit leaders. The importance of creating real and meaningful relationships with each other and with the community.
The work of the Peninsula Latina Giving Circle is an inspiration to us all: by investing in their community, they are able to identify the biggest gaps to fill and ensure their neighbors have the support they need.
Learn more about Peninsula Latina Giving Circle’s work by visiting their giving circle showcase fund on Grapevine.