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Funders boost Latino initiative

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By Todd Cohen

Two North Carolina foundations have agreed to invest $600,000 in a national initiative to strengthen Latino groups serving Latinos.

North Carolina is the first state in the Southeast to join the collaborative effort, which is backed by several big national foundations and aims to raise $16.5 million.

The $12 million-asset Warner Foundation in Durham is contributing $100,000, and the $425 million-asset Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation in Winston-Salem is contributing $500,000.

Those funds will be doubled by national foundations participating in the initiative, and roughly half of Reynolds’ support will be used as a challenge grant to match contributions by other foundations in up to five communities in the state.

The other half of Reynolds’ support will be pooled with funds from other grantmakers to support efforts in rural areas generally lacking in philanthropic resources, says Tom Ross, the foundation’s executive director.

Organizers hope that support by North Carolina foundations will exceed $1.2 million by September, when the collaborative will begin planning its grantmaking process.

The national initiative, known as the Funders Collaborative for Strong Latino Communities, is managed by Hispanics in Philanthropy and funded by the Ford, Kellogg, Rockefeller and other foundations.

Grants mainly will be used to strengthen the internal operations, or “capacity,” of groups — with annual budgets of up to $2 million and a majority of Latinos on their staff or board – that serve Latinos.

Other grants may be used to help develop Latino leadership within nonprofit groups.

The Warner Foundation, which initiated North Carolina’s participation in the initiative, focuses its funding on improving economic opportunity and race relations.

“How we as a state respond to the emerging Latino population will have future implications for race relations in our state,” says Tony Pipa, the foundation’s executive director.

The initiative also gives foundations in the state a chance to work with one another, he says, “and to see that we can have greater impact working together than by working in isolation.”

So far, the national initiative has raised $9.5 million from 52 funders, says Magui Rubalcava, director of programs for Hispanics in Philanthropy.

Other sites participating in the national initiative include Northern California and California’s Central Valley; Colorado; the Upper Midwest; Connecticut; and the Delaware Valley in the Philadelphia area.

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