SEATTLE — The Latino Community Fund (LCF) in Washington is dedicated to advocating for the Latino community with a special focus on training and empowering the leaders of tomorrow. It was founded over a decade ago when a Latino philanthropist and other community members saw the need for a community fund when they learned only 1.8% of philanthropy benefits Latino organizations.
"We really focus on developing and cultivating new leaders," said Marisol Morales from Latino Community Fund. "We also support Latino based and cultural based non-profit organizations and improve the lives of Washingtonians."
Alissa Mustre is one such Washingtonian that benefitted from the Latino Community Fund's support. Alissa grew up in Mexico and came to Washington for college. When she got here, she missed her community in Mexico, "I went from seeing people who looked like me and spoke like me everywhere to seeing very few Latinos. I felt so disconnected so I started looking for ways to get involved in the community."
Mustre got connected with LCF through a friend of hers, and now works for the fund in their youth leadership program Allianza. "It's a unique model that we have," she said. "We really center the youth and the community in everything that we do. Nothing is done without their input."
The Latino Community Fund recently organized Latino Legislative Day, a day where Latino youth from around the state converged in Olympia to advocate for their communities, meet with their representatives, and talk about their concerns.
"It helped them build their skills as community organizers so when they go back to their community they keep organizing and advocating at the local level and at the state level," Mustre said.
"It's important that our voices are heard, and part of the government process, we want to be heard and counted," Morales said.
Over 500 youth from around the state attended Latino Legislative Day. Morales says much of the organizing was done by the youth themselves.
"We're advocating for our community at the state level and making sure our community is counted," Morales said. "With the 2020 census coming up, there's a lot at stake."