Latino professionals create charitable fund

Nolo Martinez
Nolo Martinez

Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Latino Professional Forum, a group formed in Greensboro that has grown to roughly 70 members throughout the Triad, has established a donor-advised fund at the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro.

The fund, which initially has secured corporate donations that will be matched dollar for dollar by Hispanics in Philanthropy, a transnational group, will make grants to support mentoring of young Latino professionals and tutoring and mentoring of Latino students in the Guilford Public Schools.

The fund also will support programs in the states of Puebla and Guanajuato in Mexico, which are points of origin for hundreds of families living and working in the Triad, says Nolo Martinez, president of the Latino Professional Forum and a research fellow at the Bryan School of Business and Economics at UNC-Greensboro.

Offering a networking opportunity for professionals interested in addressing issues affecting Latinos and the community, the Latino Professional Forum this year is focusing on social and cultural issues, economic development, and efforts to get Latinos involved in the community, Martinez says.

The group, for example, sponsors a speaker series featuring community leaders such as Tim Rice, president and CEO of Moses Cone Health System, who will talk about reforming the health-care system on Nov. 3 at 6 p.m. in the Education Center at Wesley Long Community Hospital.

Other speakers scheduled for 2010 include Skip Alston, chairman of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, who will speak on January 5, and Rob Clapper, president of the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce, who will speak in May.

The forum also hosts a Christmas party for local Latinos, as well as a family day that last summer drew 150 people to Bryan Park and featured a food drive that collected roughly 3,000 pounds of food for the food bank at Greensboro Urban Ministry.

Martinez says the forum grew out of a suggestion last year by Neil Belenky, at the time the president of United Way of Greater Greensboro.

Belenky, who retired later in the year, had developed strong relationships with companies like Syngenta with high-ranking Latino executives and saw an opportunity to bring those executives together on a regular basis to talk about community issues and strengthen United Way, Martinez says.

The idea for the donor-advised fund, he says, grew out of a suggestion by Tara Sandercock, vice president for grants and initiatives at the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro and a member of the board of Hispanics in Philanthropy, a transnational network of grantmakers committed to strengthening Latino communities across the Americas.

With an initial goal of raising $25,000 in corporate donations that would secure a matching grant of $25,000 from Hispanics in Philanthropy, the donor-advised fund already has received commitments of $5,000 each from four companies, including Syngenta and Ecolab, Martinez says.

The group also plans to seek support from foundations and individuals, he says.

Advising the fund is a group that includes the executive team of the Latino Professional Forum; Belenky; Sandercock; and Keith Barsuhn, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Greensboro.

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