Valiente Fund
Valiente Fund

NEW YORK CITY - Latinos may make up a significant portion of the population in many regions in the U.S., but the demographic is often underrepresented in nonprofit boards, according to Latinos LEAD. Lack of access to funding can be a determinant factor when it comes to access, and the Valiente Fund, housed at Way to Rise, is seeking to change that.

The Valiente Fund has selected thirteen emerging organizations to participate in an accelerator program that will provide training, coaching and peer convening, as well as a cash grant.

"The Valiente Fund seeks to unleash a new generation of Latine leaders and organizations so that we can maximize our full potential as change agents," said Maria Rodriguez, executive director of the Valiente Fund, in an interview with The Latin Times. "It comes from a keen understanding that while our demographics are powerful, our communities and leaders aren't being recognized."

The 13 groups tackle different issues: some focus their work on criminal justice, others on housing, immigration or democracy.

"We wanted to make sure they were groups that had an appetite for growth and reach and wanted to increase the civic engagement of their communities in whatever way they define civic engagement," said Rodriguez.

Less than 2% of philanthropic dollars go to Latino organizations, hindering their potential to grow and succeed, according to Valiente. In that context, its fund will provide each organization with an unrestricted grant of $100,000 in addition to the training, coaching and networking opportunities.

"We must build Latine power in San Antonio as we fight over-policing and mass incarceration here," said Ananda Tomas, executive director of Act for SA in Texas, one of the thirteen organizations. "I am new in the Executive Director position, and want to learn how I can have the most impact to save lives in my community. The Valiente Accelerator is a critical step in that growth," she added.

The groups were chosen from cities in four states — Nevada, North Carolina, Texas and Florida — the criteria being that they are important burgeoning areas for Latino communities.

"Our communities are severely underfunded on all fronts — philanthropy, government and capital investments," said Rodriguez. "We found that we have to help these groups be in a position where they can receive larger amounts of resources where we can help elevate them."

The program will run from January to August and Rodriguez hopes the accelerator will help these organizations feel more solid and secure in their operations so they can take bigger risks of growth and leadership.

"Whether you call it networking, collaboration or movement building, the fact that together we build our power, our potential, our prosperity, our future and our respect — I think that will be a very important piece [that the organizations will learn]."

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