October 4, 2022

Hispanic Access Foundation: Creating Vital Connections Across Latino Communities

National Philanthropic Trust’s donors recommend thousands of grants every year. This new series, Grants In Action highlights the breadth of causes and organizations NPT’s donors are supporting with grant recommendations from their donor-advised fund accounts. 

Author National Philanthropic Trust

Above: Pastor Moses Borjas is working with the Hispanic Access Foundation to help preserve and protect the Castner Range, a section of the Franklin Mountains, in El Paso, TX. Image courtesy of Hispanic Access Foundation.

“Mejor juntos.” Translated into English it means, “Better together,” a fitting motto for Hispanic Access Foundation, a nonprofit that connects Latino communities with issue expertise and guidance, develops new leaders and elevates Hispanic voices across sectors.

Founded in 2010 and based out of Washington D.C., the organization connects Latino communities across the country through trust-based partnerships and helps promote greater representation and development of Latinos in areas like environmental conservation, land management and faith leadership.

The organization’s vision for community building and togetherness is as relevant as ever during Hispanic Heritage Month, which takes place annually from September 15 to October 15.

“During Hispanic Heritage Month, it is very important to acknowledge the people who have been vital to the growth and development of the United States’ extremely diverse identity,” says Luke Argleben, the nonprofit’s Director of Development. “Latinos and Latinx not only represent what has been part of our nation’s history, but our future.”

As the Hispanic population continues to grow in the U.S., Argleben believes that this is the time to “shine a light on the hidden stories of strength in our communities.”

The organization does this through programming like the Our Heritage, Our Planet film festival, which “explores the intersectionality between cultural identity and nature,” as told through the lens of BIPOC filmmakers and storytellers.

A focus on the environment is of particular importance to Hispanic communities across the country, Argleben notes. Climate change and environmental justice “is the most unifying issue in our polling of Latino communities.” Over the summer, Hispanic Access Foundation hosts Latino Conservation Week, a series of events and activities focused on the protection and stewardship of natural resources. The organization’s MANO Project helps place Latino students and recent graduates into positions across environmental conservation, engineering and other fields.

All of Hispanic Access Foundation’s work relies on donor support from individuals, foundations and corporate partnerships. Argleben notes that funding grew significantly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Through donor generosity and a federal partnership, the organization was able to organize COVID awareness and vaccination efforts in Latino population centers across the country.

Donor-advised funds (DAFs) currently make up a small percentage of Hispanic Access Foundation’s funding portfolio, but, Argleben points out, they are already making a significant impact helping fund the organization’s day-to-day operations. “These donations, which are continually growing in our portfolio, are incredibly important to us.”

What’s amazing about DAFs, and the sustained support we get from donors, is it gives us the ability to be flexible, yet timely.

“What’s amazing about DAFs, and the sustained support we get from donors, is it gives us the ability to be flexible, yet timely,” Argleben says, adding, “We can apply [DAF grants] where and when we need them the most.”

The growth of trust-based philanthropy and unrestricted grantmaking allows organizations like theirs the flexibility to continue with daily operations and plan for the future at the same time. For Argleben and his colleagues, that includes goals like expanding their health and education programming, and greatly expanding their network of leaders who, Argleben says, “can mobilize people around the issues that impact us the most.”

About the Author

Aly Semigran is a Content Specialist at National Philanthropic Trust. She has been writing and editing professionally for over 15 years, with articles in Billboard, Well + Good and Mic, among many other notable publications. In addition to her editorial background, Aly is currently getting her Master of Social Work degree from Temple University. She resides in Philadelphia with her dog.