FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Anna Carron

New Report Reveals Hispanic Federation’s COVID-Relief Grants Empowered Over 350 Latino Community-Based Organizations to be First Responders and Create a Safety Net of Pandemic Emergency Services

Hispanic Federation’s emergency grants -- totaling $20.6 million to more than 350 nonprofits across the US -- arrived before federal assistance

Nationwide – On Tuesday, the Hispanic Federation (HF) released a new report titled Hope & Unity: Latino CBOs Respond to COVID-19, which reveals how HF’s COVID-related grantmaking empowered hundreds of Latino community-based organizations to keep their doors open during the first 15 months of the pandemic, even as others were forced to close theirs. Between April 2020 and September 2021, HF’s COVID-related grants – totaling $20.6 million to more than 350 nonprofits in 38 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia – often arrived before other funding, including federal assistance. HF recently surveyed nearly 300 of its Latino nonprofit partners about the reach and impact of the Federation’s COVID-19 grants during the pandemic.

The Federation’s network of COVID-19 grantees, which has an estimated combined reach of more than 10 million people annually, was able to deliver emergency services, including food and housing assistance and healthcare, to some of the most overlooked and vulnerable communities during times of crisis, including individuals without health insurance, undocumented and mixed-status families, children and youth, pregnant women, domestic violence survivors, farmworkers, day laborers, and seniors. The first COVID-related grants were made in the first days of April 2020, a few weeks after our federal government declared a nationwide emergency.

HF is working to provide another $7 million in essential support before the end of 2021.

“Nonprofits are the lifelines of our community, and that reality was put on full display during the height of the pandemic. These grassroots organizations were at the forefront of recovery efforts, providing critical resources and ensuring that Latino communities had everything they needed to make it through these unprecedented times,” said Frankie Miranda, President and CEO of the Hispanic Federation. “The Hispanic Federation is proud to have played a role in supporting their efforts and operations. We’re thankful for their work and committed to be a constant source of strength and support for our incomparable network of Latino community nonprofits.”

Over 350 member organizations from across the country, from Florida, to Washington, DC, to California, received COVID-related grants. A full list of organizations that received grants can be found in the report.

“We are grateful to have the Hispanic Federation’s support during a deeply challenging time for our organization and the people we serve. Their critical funding was the first to arrive and gave us the assurance that we could meet some of our community’s most urgent needs, including doing food and vaccination drives, and providing our most vulnerable residents with cash assistance. The Hispanic Federation's work did not end there. They went far beyond cutting a check and worked with us throughout the pandemic to help us fight for greater resource equity and ensure we were able to efficiently serve our community. We are thankful and proud to be a partner of the Hispanic Federation, said Luis Gutierrez, Founder and CEO of Latinos Progresando in Chicago, Illinois.

HF’s grantmaking to its member organizations showed it doesn’t take millions to stabilize vulnerable communities. Through strategic and multiple rounds of funding, HF was able to strengthen community health in the face of shifting pandemic needs. For example, when vaccines became available, but before federal assistance reached community clinics, HF made emergency grants totaling $1 million to 19 organizations to conduct vaccination drives targeting the most at-risk and marginalized members of our community.

In a survey of grantees, respondents shared what set HF grants apart - including greater ease to apply and receive funds, the expedient turnaround to have funds available, less restrictions that enabled a particular impact across COVID-related health outreach, housing assistance, nutrition distribution, and preservation of arts and culture.

More than three-fourths of survey respondents strongly agreed or agreed that HF funding was particularly important to them because it came before other funding. Additionally, more than 90% of survey respondents strongly agreed or agreed that compared to other grants, HF grants are easier to apply for.

“Hispanic Federation’s fast and flexible grant support is a model for how you can empower grassroots organizations to address rapidly evolving community needs,” said Linda Rivas, Executive Director of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, Texas. “Hispanic Federation's emergency COVID funding helped ensure that we could serve our community when they needed it most. And as we seek to recover from this pandemic and tackle the challenges ahead, it is empowering to know that the Hispanic Federation will be right there with us, advocating and championing our work.

Through nimble organizing and culturally-responsive leadership, Latino community-based organizations were able to stretch funding farther to meet emergency needs and stave off hunger, distribute vaccines, stabilize households through cash assistance, housing relief, and more. Efforts included, but were not limited to:

Vaccine Distribution
As the first vaccines became available in mid-January 2021, the Federation engaged its Latino community health centers and quickly came to know that while the vaccines were being provided to them to administer for free, they came without any administrative fee for staffing, technology, and to conduct needed outreach to educate, engage and follow up with the vulnerable populations they were committed to serve (the poor, uninsured, undocumented, limited English speakers, and, sometimes, homeless populations in their geographic areas). Six days later, the Federation announced the first 16 grants under VIDA (Vaccine Immunization Dosage Awareness) to cover such costs.

“Hispanic Federation took targeted action to help Latino community health organizations like ours close the Latino vaccine equity gap,” said Carmen Heredia, CEO of Valle del Sol in Phoenix, Arizona. “The funds they provided us at the start of the year allowed us to mobilize a massive vaccination effort in vulnerable Latino neighborhoods throughout our region.”

Support for Operations
Over half of grantees (54%) reported using some of HF funding to cover operating costs. Many Latino nonprofits have performance-based program grants or contracts. When many offices closed and face-to-face services were halted early in the pandemic, these nonprofits lost much of their income. Some funders later made funding more flexible, and many organizations were eventually able to obtain Payroll Protection Program (PPP) funding, but HF funds played a crucial role in maintaining nonprofit operations, especially in the early months of the pandemic. Grantees used HF funds to pay the rent and keep staff employed, and cover special operating costs like Plexiglas and office disinfecting so essential services could continue. These funds supported purchase of technology so staff could work from home, provide remote services to clients, communicate with each other, and access data. They paid for PPE, sanitizer, and other supplies that helped keep staff and clients safe.

Food Assistance
Millions of Latino families including children have faced food insecurity during the pandemic. Food assistance is a top priority for Hispanic Federation (HF), addressed through both grants and the purchase and distribution of food and various types of cash and cash-equivalent food vouchers. During the pandemic, grantees pivoted to address the food crisis among their communities, with at least 75 organizations expanding their food assistance activities and 68 initiating food programs. Food pantry operations expanded exponentially, requiring fresh produce and refrigerated dairy and proteins as well as culturally appropriate non-perishable goods. Many of these nonprofits became community food hubs, offering food in accessible locations to hard-hit families, many of whom lack transportation to reach large distribution centers. Most often grantees ran food pantries or participated in grocery distributions or provided cash or cash cards to individuals or families. Many also delivered meals or prepared them for pickup. Some worked with restaurants or farmers hurt by the pandemic, and paid for them to prepare food and meals for local distribution.

Housing Assistance
As Latino households grappled with pandemic-induced pay cuts and job losses, HF’s grant making covered a crucial gap for families scrambling to make their rent or mortgage payment, cover their utility bills, or secure emergency housing. For example, grantees serving immigrant farmworkers were able to distribute urgently needed cash assistance to these essential workers so that families wouldn’t lose their homes during the pandemic. HF provided $8.01 million in housing assistance to nearly 30,000 people.

“Hispanic Federation helped ensure that Latino families had a home and resources that would support them during the pandemic,” said Gladys Vega, Executive Director of La Colaborativa in Chelsea, Massachusetts. “As an already trusted institution, we were able to pivot early during the pandemic to address the needs of low-income residents, many of whom were undocumented immigrants or came from mix-status families who never qualified for other forms of assistance. We had the community connections and knowledge while the Hispanic Federation provided the crucial funding to operationalize our efforts. We couldn’t have done it without their support.”

Arts and Culture
HF recognized the value that behavioral health organizations provided for children and teens through arts activities, which facilitated socio-emotional expression and well-being. HF’s grantmaking helped arts and culture organizations continue offering free activities and bring their programming online. Adapting to the pressing needs of the communities they serve, several arts groups arranged live outdoor performances to support community education about COVID-19 or encourage vaccinations.

A full list of nonprofit efforts can be found in the report.