Latino philanthropy fund celebrates 20th anniversary, announces new campaigns

The Progreso Latino Fund announced a kickoff celebration for its new campaign at the Bregamos Community Theater in New Haven on Feb. 2.

The event will celebrate the 20th anniversary of charitable giving to the Latino community of greater New Haven.

“The party is a reception to kick off our 20th anniversary — our year 2023. And we’re kicking off a whole year of talking about inspiring and elevating Latino philanthropy in our community,” said Liana Garcia, director of gift planning.

As a component fund of The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, the Progreso Latino fund was established in 2003 by a small group of community-minded Puerto Ricans who wanted to give back to the Latino community. Twenty
years later, Garcia explained
that an advisory board of 10 Latino community leaders determine where the grants go each year.

In addition to funding scholarships and disaster responses, one of the 2022 grants was awarded to Latinas & Power Corp., a Latina-led professional development nonprofit designed to serve Latinas in the workforce. The grant funds helped develop the curriculum for the new Latinas in Leadership Academy, a 14-week certification program set to launch this fall.

“The program will be geared towards Latinas that are in an entry level and mid-career/business path and is focused on leadership and civic engagement tools needed to become influential leaders and community advocates,” said CEO Marilyn Alverio.

Growing the Fund

This year, Garcia explained the fund plans on providing $100,000 in grants to Latino-led and Latino-serving nonprofits over the next two years. Considering the effects of the pandemic, Garcia said the fund will be primarily focusing on nonprofits that are working to improve Latino mental health this year.

Even though Progreso Latino is an endowed fund, Garcia explained that they are trying to grow it. To accomplish that goal, she said the fund is launching a 20th anniversary matching campaign with the goal of raising $40,000 total for the fund — half from individual donors and half from matching funding from the Community Foundation. She explained that anyone who made a gift to the Progreso Latino in 2023 would be matched dollar for dollar up to $2,000.

Support the Progreso Latino Fund

Paying it forward: starting new Latino charitable funds

The other anniversary goal is establishing 40 new Latino charitable funds. The Community Foundation plans on kick starting Latino charitable named funds with $2,000, Garcia said.

“We already know that the Latino community is very charitable with church and organizations and their neighbors and helping people,” she said. “This is just a way to help people who are interested formalize their philanthropy in a different way.”

Anaika Ocasio of New Haven was inspired to start her own fund after joining the Advisory Board of Progreso Latino.

“Just joining something like that was exciting alone. And then it actually inspired me and my husband to open our own fund,” she said. “We saw the need in the New Haven area and wanted to create something that would outlast us.”

Ocasio was born in Puerto Rico and came to the mainland US when she was 12. She became a landlord and a business owner and started the Ocasio Family Fund to help youth graduating from New Haven schools and going to a trade school — especially those whose family might not be able to pay the fees. She reached out to Garcia, who helped her set up the fund.

“I didn’t know that it was so simple, that I could just go to the community foundation and say ‘listen, I have a desire to open this fund,’” she said. “I thought that was something rich people did, like really wealthy people. But I’m like ‘no, anybody can do this. Anybody can start saving for this.’”,Twitter: @lguzm_n

Latino Communities Reporter Lau Guzmán is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms. Support RFA reporters at the Record-Journal through a donation at, To learn more about RFA, visit


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