Castillo: A new giving network answers why Latinos need a hand


The life of a nonprofit worker can be wrapped up in selfless and meaningful pursuits, such as helping people who need a hand and doing work for the good of the community. But doing good deeds depends on another kind of consuming pursuit: raising money for the mission.

Just ask Teresa Granillo, who heads up Con Mi Madre, a local nonprofit that’s achieved remarkable results helping young Latinas stay in school and get a college education by engaging their mothers in the process so that they stay faithful to the journey. “Every day I wake up and go to bed thinking fundraising,” Granillo says with a resigned smile.

Raising money can be daunting. In Austin, more than 7,000 nonprofits vie for dollars from charitable foundations, corporations and people perhaps like yourself who struggle with their own budget and don’t always have much to spare.

In Granillo’s case, asking for money often elicits a reply she can get tired of hearing: “Why Latinos?”

“That’s why it’s nice to have a situation where the community has said, ‘Yes, Latinos,’ and has recognized this is our future,” Granillo says.

The situation she refers to is the launching of a new giving network to support the economic advancement of Hispanic Central Texans. The Austin Community Foundation is starting the network — called the Hispanic Impact Fund— with $500,000, including a $250,000 grant from Google.org and financial commitments by Rackspace and JPMorgan Chase & Co. In bringing together philanthropists and resources, the Austin Community Foundation grants more than $23 million a year in donor-advised funds, making it the third-largest grantor in Central Texas.

Hispanic Impact Fund creators say donors will choose who gets grants by using data to identify needs. They’ll focus on closing gaps in early childhood education, health, entrepreneurship and access to capital. Only two other similar giving models exist in the U.S. — none in Texas, according to organizers, who also say there’s no limit to how much they’ll raise.

Like the potential donors Granillo regularly encounters, you might also be asking, “Good for Latinos, but why Latinos?”

Because when Hispanics rise, Austin rises, says Gerardo Interiano, who will co-chair the Hispanic Impact Fund and is Google’s head of external affairs for the Southwest U.S.

By now you’re familiar with the story of the Hispanic boom. The Austin region’s Latino population is growing in absolute numbers more than any other demographic group, according to data from the Austin Area Sustainability Indicators project. Latinos make up one-third of the metro area’s population, which includes Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties. By 2020, analysts expect the majority of Central Texas youth will be Latino, and by 2040, Hispanics overall will be the majority population.

Hispanics, however, aren’t faring as well as others — a reality some might find hard to believe given Austin’s reputation as a great place to live.

Yet, the per capita income among Latinos, for instance, is less than $18,000 a year, less than half of that of non-Hispanic whites ($41,642) and lagging behind all other demographic groups. Other worrisome indicators: The dropout rate for Latino high school students is higher than for any other race or ethnicity. The Latino population here is disproportionately uninsured, and more than any other racial or ethnic group, Latinos seek health care in public or community health clinics. Only 19 percent of local businesses are owned by Latinos.

The income gap alone is huge and must be addressed, said Mike Nellis, the Austin Community Foundation’s CEO.

And Granillo points out that in 2020, the same year Latinos become the majority among Central Texas youth, 59 percent of jobs in the state will require a college education.

So, let’s recap: When Latino youth become a majority, most jobs in Central Texas will require a college education, but Latinos are dropping out at higher rates than other groups. You do the math; it doesn’t bode well for Central Texas.

Con Mi Madre is doing its part to achieve better outcomes, helping more than 700 Latinas every year. A full 100 percent of seniors in the program graduate from high school, while 77 percent enroll directly in a post-secondary education. In 2015, 62 percent of its students were from low-income backgrounds. Eighty percent were would-be first-generation college students.

“These (young Latinas) are going to be the drivers of our economy,” Granillo says.

And when they are prepared for the future, “the rest of the city will be rising, too.”

Yes, Latinos.

Castillo is the Viewpoints editor. Reach him at jcastillo@statesman.com; 512-445-3667.



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