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Grants helped Latino nonprofit groups be pandemic ‘first-responders’

By December 1, 2021COVID-19

The disbursement of millions of dollars to Latino nonprofit groups at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic last year enabled hundreds of organizations to serve as “safety nets” and provide direct assistance to Hispanic families, according to a new report.

The Hispanic Federation, one of the nation’s largest Latino nonprofit umbrella organizations, disbursed $20.6 million to more than 350 nonprofit groups and 798 small businesses through its Covid relief grant program. The funds were awarded between March 2020 and September this year, and about 73 percent of the beneficiaries served Latino and immigrant communities across the mainland United States and Puerto Rico.

“We knew from the very beginning because of our experience with Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico that these community-based organizations were going to be the lifeline of communities,” Hispanic Federation President Frankie Miranda said. “These were the ones that would not be able to close their doors and were going to be asked to do more, although they were underresourced and underfunded.”

The community-based organizations reached more than 2 million people and provided health care, food and housing assistance, among others.

The local organizations, he said, “are incredibly important for communities and when these organizations disappear, it takes years for organizations to come back and be able to be re-established.”

One of the organizations that received a grant was the Redlands Christian Migrant Association in Immokalee, Florida, an agricultural region with many farmworker and migrant families. The association’s primary goal is to provide education to children of farmworkers and low-income families, serving more than 6,000 children annually across the state.

The $85,000 grant from the Hispanic Federation was for Covid vaccination efforts, rental and utility assistance, and educational programs. More than 200 families benefited from the funding, according to Isabel Garcia, the association’s executive director.

“Most of the families and farmworkers are the ones that are always the last and have always been the ones that are forgotten about,” she said. “They would get sick and they would not have any other income coming in, because if you don’t want to work in the field, you don’t get paid.”

The Redlands Christian Migrant Association has helped relieve other financial stressors including gas and travel expenses for essential workers who missed work due to Covid, and covered child care service fees when schools were closed.

“We really want to target the rural population that are the hardest to reach areas where you have the most neediest families,” Garcia said. “The funding we did really helps to provide those needed services that the families are needing during this time of hardship.”

In Chicago, the nonprofit Latinos Progresando said through a statement that the Hispanic Federation funding “was the first to arrive,” according to its founder Luis Gutierrez, and it was used for food and vaccination drives, as well as cash assistance for vulnerable residents.

The initial funding for the Hispanic Federation’s Covid emergency grant program was $250,000 and was matched by “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and other family members. The federation was established in New York City in 1990 by Luis Miranda, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s father.

The report compiled and summarized data from an online survey of grantees during this summer.

More than $10 million in grants for food assistance provided help to more than 550,000 people. At least 68 nonprofit groups launched food-related programs and 75 organizations expanded upon them.

About $1 million in grant money went to 19 Latino health centers that provided more than 230,000 vaccinations in communities where fear of not having insurance or lacking legal status — even though vaccines are free and available to all regardless of immigration status — had kept some Hispanic and other families from getting shots.

The federation is hoping to disburse $7 million in additional funds by the end of the year,

“While we have been able to do this, our organizations are still not getting a fair and equitable share of the funding that is out there. They continue to be disproportionately underfunded,” the Hispanic Federation’s Miranda said.

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