Latino nonprofits receive funding from foundation |

Latino nonprofits receive funding from foundation

The Aspen Valley Community Foundation has committed more than $50,000 to two Latino-run, nonprofit communication organizations and an education program meant to help Latino kids get into college.

The decision by the foundation’s board of directors Wednesday marks a turn in direction for the three-year-old Latino Community Investment Initiative toward supporting educational and community-building organizations. In previous years, the community foundation had focused most of the Latino Initiative’s money and energy on nonprofits that are more human service-oriented.

A few key human service organizations will continue to be funded, including the Family Visitor Program and Literacy Outreach. But the organizations receiving grants this week include La Mision, a monthly Spanish-language newspaper, and Latinos Americanos Unidos, which puts on a weekly Spanish-language radio program and organizes events that highlight Hispanic art, culture and achievement.

The foundation also approved funding for the Precollegiate Academic Preparatory Program, a University of Colorado program that assists college-bound students from families without a history of college attendance.

“The foundation board enthusiastically approved our proposal for year three of the Latino Initiative,” said Ellen Freedman, the community foundation’s executive director.

In all, the board authorized $203,000 in grants Wednesday.

The Garfield County-based Family Visitor Program received $70,000, the largest donation from the Latino Initiative funds. The program matches case workers/counselors with low-income families with infants. Latinos make up a significant portion of the Family Visitor Program’s client base, although the organization does serve families from all races.

The next biggest recipient was the Latino Youth Camp, which was granted $50,000. The camp takes about two dozen Latino teenagers into the wilderness for a week each summer and then has follow-up activities to keep participants engaged with their fellow campers and the community at large. It is a joint initiative of the community foundation and Aspen Grassroots Experience.

The CU preparatory program received $35,000 to set up in the Roaring Fork School District between Glenwood Springs and Basalt. Once up and running, participating students from middle and high schools in the area will receive counseling designed to put them on a college track, and will be able to visit a college campus during the last two summers in high school. The program has been in existence since the mid-1980s, but has been limited to the Front Range until now.

Literacy Outreach will receive $30,000 to help defray the costs of teaching adults how to read.

La Mision will receive $10,000, allowing editor Luis Polar to become a full-time employee. Polar has been putting the monthly newspaper together as a part timer since the nonprofit newspaper was formed about a year and a half ago. Polar said he would like to publish the bilingual Spanish-English paper twice a month, although he admits a lot of work needs to be done before that happens.

And Latino Americano Unidos received $8,000 to cover operating expenses related to the Spanish language radio program broadcast on Carbondale’s community radio station KDNK every Thursday night. The funds will also go toward organizing other events that highlight Latino accomplishments in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Freedman said the community foundation expects the grants made to La Mision and Latino Americano Unidos will have large impacts on both organizations, even though they are considerably smaller than grants made to the other recipients.

“Those are significant grants for those groups, because their budgets are so much smaller,” Freedman said.

[Allyn Harvey’s e-mail address is]

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