Last week the Latino Equity Fund (LEF) today announced $200,000 in grants to eight Latino-focused organizations as part of the LEF’s COVID-19 Response Fund in partnership with the Boston Foundation.
Maverick Landing Community Services (MLCS) and the seven other nonprofits will receive $25,000 each to provide enhanced services to help Latino communities recover from the strains caused by COVID-19 and the longer-term economic challenges the pandemic unleashed.
“LEF’s mobilization of funds is a true testament to our commitment to action in response to data and advancing recovery for many of our community leaders still balancing the effects of COVID on their operations,” said Evelyn Barahona, Director of Latino Equity Fund. “We selected organizations whose leadership and position in the community is mission critical to promoting economic prosperity, health equity and wellbeing for Latinos in Massachusetts.”
Since the onset of the pandemic, MLCS has responded to pandemic-related emergent needs at the intersection of food, housing, trauma, workforce and education.
MLCS Director Rita Lara said since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 to present MLCS has distributed 83,000 produce bags with a total weight of 750,000 lbs to food insecure families in Eastie.
“Then from July 2021 to the present in collaboration with our Housing Support Coalition partners, we helped over 138 East Boston families to stay in their homes by accessing nearly $570,000 in RAFT and ERAP housing assistance for them,” said Lara. “And since 2021 we have worked with the Mutual Aid Eastie, the Transformational Prison Project, the Neighborhood Trauma Team, and the East Boston Community Soup Kitchen to support bimonthly restorative justice circles promoting wellness, healing, and community connection for East Boston residents.”
Lara said the grant from LEF will continue to support these services as well as other vital responsive programming.
“The grant will help support other programs such as our trauma-informed digital literacy in Spanish and English–ensuring digital access for all and learning support for children in our makerspace and STEM education programs,” said Lara.
The grant announcement comes as the new report, ¡Avancemos Ya!: Persistent Economic Challenges and Opportunities Facing Latinos in Massachusetts was published by LEF in partnership with Boston Indicators and the Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy at UMass Boston.
The report highlighted opportunities to improve economic conditions among Massachusetts’ Latino communities. The report traces the historical and demographic roots of the state’s unique Latino communities, and outlines six trends that have shaped the current situation for the state’s Latinos and that can serve as pathways for future opportunities.
The pandemic exacerbated long-standing challenges facing Latinos. Today, for example, a quarter or more of the 800,000 Latinos in Massachusetts struggle with food insecurity, and data show Massachusetts Latinos have low rates of intergenerational economic mobility. Yet the report also sheds light on how the economic rebound from the 2020 recession provides opportunities to improve socioeconomic conditions.
“These grants address a number of the issue areas highlighted in ¡Avancemos Ya!, as part of the LEF’s larger strategy to work with our nonprofit partners to provide greater equity for Latinos,” said Juan Fernando Lopera, Co-Chair of LEF. “At a time when Massachusetts faces an outstanding need for workers, empowering our talented, entrepreneurial and fast-growing Latino communities to fill that need is a crucial step that provides benefits for everyone in the state.”
Co-Founder and Co-Chair of LEF Aixa Beauchamp said the fund is committed to deepening its community investments that provides culturally sensitive and timely grantmaking.
“Through responsive and innovative initiatives, we can create a community and philanthropic network for diverse donors to connect and learn,” said Beauchamp. “We will continue to aid Latino and BIPOC communities through this public health and economic crisis to see a brighter future.”