Here’s a statistic that troubles the local Latino community: About one penny of every dollar awarded by charitable foundations nationwide goes to Latino organizations. In Massachusetts, that ratio is only slightly higher, at two cents on the dollar.
A Boston organization created to shift that imbalance will make its first round of grants Wednesday, directing $100,000 to five local Latino-focused programs.
Created in 2012, the Latino Legacy Fund is the only charitable fund in Greater Boston focused solely on supporting Latino-led or Latino-focused nonprofits. The fund was seeded with contributions of $250,000 each from the Boston Foundation and Hispanics in Philanthropy. It has since grown to about $800,000 thanks to individual and corporate donors, including MFS Investment Management, Eastern Bank, and John Hancock.
Originally, the fund planned to hold off on distributing money until it had established a $1 million permanent endowment. But Wednesday’s gifts will be made because “we thought it was important to build more visibility for the fund,” said Aixa Beauchamp, a Latino Legacy Fund cofounder.
Considering Boston’s population is 17.5 percent Hispanic and the national Hispanic poverty rate is 24.5 percent, dedicated funding for Latino nonprofits is especially important, she added.
A lack of grant funding for Latino causes “holds us back from really investing in nonprofits that are making tremendous efforts in their community to lift people out of poverty, to get them better educated, to find better health care, and to help them negotiate systems and processes so their kids can do better in school,” Beauchamp said.
Another goal of the Latino Legacy Fund is to encourage more charitable giving by Latinos.
“Latinos have always been philanthropic,” Beauchamp noted, “but a lot of them are focused on giving to friends, church, and local institutions in their neighborhood. We’re trying to encourage more organized philanthropy, and by organized I mean giving outside your circle to institutions and nonprofits.”
The fund’s initial grants, aimed at creating economic opportunity by improving Latino education in Greater Boston, consist of:
■ $15,000 to Horizons for Homeless Children for professional development for its bilingual staff.
■ $25,000 to Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción to help families in the South End and Lower Roxbury access financial assistance for early childhood education and care.
■ $15,000 to the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corp. to support Latina educators.
■ $25,000 to La Alianza Hispana to expand a home visitation program.
■ $20,000 to The Nurtury for technology training for Latino family child care providers.