In the Latino community, family affiliation extends beyond biological relations and form a complicated web that links friends, neighbors, and even strangers with whom you share a common location or cultural heritage. Family ties foster a vital sense of belonging, increasing people’s propensity to support the system. They convey the idea that everyone is in this together, which helps folks survive in a situation where they are often seen as outsiders.
Big Hearted Hispanics
The Federal Reserve Bank estimates that in 2010, 2.2% of US wealth was held by Latinos. But that number is projected to rise dramatically by 2025, as Hispanic families stabilize financially and catch up to their non-Hispanic counterparts. With the number of wealthy Latinos growing, many have begun giving to charities.
According to research released in July by Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, traditional donation-based philanthropy has decreased overall in the United States, with a sharp decline of 18% between 2000 and 2018.
But those figures don’t provide the complete picture. A neutral organization called the Giving Commission was established to promote and better understand both official and unofficial acts of compassion throughout the history of American generosity. Current giving metrics do not adequately reflect the range and depth of charitable behaviors in many populations, especially Latino philanthropy.
The July poll examined American donations, which were those made directly to charities or through payroll deductions and included the transfer of funds, assets, goods, or property. However, that leaves out a lot of the charitable work people conduct within their families and communities.
In terms of remittances people send to relatives, Latino families and Americans born overseas are renowned for being generous. With remittances totalling $68 billion alone in 2020, the United States leads the world in this regard. Several Central and Latin American countries rely heavily on these payments to support their economies.
Interestingly, after COVID-19, these remittances increased. According to research released in August by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Hispanic Americans prioritize community economic development, take an active role in charitable activities, and provide a large proportion of their “donations” to family members. These practices reflect a variety of giving that is different from what they typically associate with charity and are consistent with what their families have gone through.
Noteworthy Latino Philanthropists
Through the years, these Hispanics have given generously to their communities:
- Ella Fontanals-Cisneros
Ella Fontanals-Cisneros, born in Cuba and raised in Venezuela, began gathering works by Latin American artists in the 1970s. She founded the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation as a philanthropist to foster greater knowledge and appreciation of contemporary Latin American artists. The foundation awards grants, commissions exhibitions, and funds publications.
- Arnoldo Avalos
Migrant farm laborers raised Arnoldo Avalos in a small community in rural Mexico. Before beginning his studies at the University of California, Berkeley and then Harvard University, where he got a master’s degree in government, he worked as a congressional intern. During his career, he held executive positions at firms like Facebook, Google, and Cisco. He started the Avalos Foundation to make education more widely available.
- Isabel Allende
Isabel Allende, a Chilean-born Peruvian, attained American citizenship in 1993. In 1995, she established the Isabel Allende Foundation in honour of her daughter Paula Fras. The latter had worked as a volunteer to aid underprivileged areas in Venezuela and Spain before passing away in 1992 at the age of 29. Beginning funding for the charity, which promotes the empowerment of women and girls, came from sales of Paula, a book Allende authored following the passing of her daughter.
- Aixa Beauchamp and Thomas Melendez
The Robert Toigo Foundation, which encourages diversity in the financial industry; Aspira, a New York organization supporting Latino youth; and Boston Children’s Hospital are just a few of the organizations supported by Thomas Melendez.
A Boston-based investment manager with Puerto Rican parents, Melendez was born and raised in Brooklyn. He credits his wife, Aixa Beauchamp, for introducing him to formal philanthropy. The pair were childhood friends, and now both give to the Latino Legacy Fund in Boston and Milagros para Nios, a Latino program at Boston Children’s Hospital.
- Al and Carmen Castellano
Alvaro “Al” Castellano and his wife Carmen had always donated money to neighborhood nonprofits. But, in 2001, after Al won the California state lottery with a single-state jackpot record of $141 million, the family’s charitable giving reached a new height. Since then, the family has given grants to nonprofit organizations in Santa Clara County that support Latino arts and culture, education, and leadership development through the Castellano Family Foundation. Over $4 million has already been distributed by the foundation.
- Ana Morales
A native of Monterrey, Mexico, Ana Morales learned the importance of philanthropy under the watchful eye of her grandfather, who founded a community aid organization. She spent ten years working for her family’s foundation before venturing out on her own. Morales is now a member of the Maverick Collective, a group of female philanthropists who fund initiatives that assist women and girls.
A New Wave of Giving
The traditional definition of philanthropy in the United States is evolving to encompass a wider range of what giving entails, particularly as this nation becomes more diverse and welcomes citizens from all backgrounds who demonstrate generosity in various ways.
There are currently 62 million Hispanics in the United States. By 2050, they will account for around 25% of the country’s population. They are challenging the notion that Americans are less generous now than they once were by reimagining and rekindling our culture of giving.
Nuevo en US is grateful for the generosity of Steve Cuculich, Tampa-based philanthropist and owner of Car Credit. By funding our efforts, Cuculich makes it possible for Nuevo to offer valuable assistance to other nonprofit organizations that assist those who are new to this country.