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Strengthening Latino philanthropic leadership in Washington, DC

Inter-American Development Bank President Luis Alberto Moreno yesterday called on the local private and public sectors to work together on community-based initiatives aimed at improving the education, health and economic development of the Latino community. 

Moreno was the keynote speaker at the kick-off event of the Latino Federation of Greater Washington, an initiative of the Council of Latino Agencies (CLA) that seeks to expand Latino leadership and participation in organized philanthropy in the Washington DC area.

“Mindful of the changing face of the U.S. population, we all have a responsibility to ensure that in the decades ahead, this community, the largest ‘minority’ in the U.S.  today, will be better engaged in all aspects of philanthropy; as donors, as volunteers, as grantmakers, and as grantees—both within the United States and vis-à-vis Latin America,” said Moreno.

The IDB is a founding sponsor for the proposed Federation and has been a steadfast supporter of local Latino and Caribbean organizations through its IDB-DC Solidarity Program, which has provided more than $2.3 million in community development grants to local non-profit organizations over the past eight years.

In addition to providing grants, donated equipment and technical assistance to local organizations, the IDB-DC Solidarity Program has built a network of about 500 volunteers, including IDB staff members, their families and retirees, that participate in community service activities throughout the year.

“Through the Bank’s Solidarity Program we have tried to reflect our own sense of corporate responsibility and commitment to these communities,” said Moreno. “For many of us the Washington DC area is a home away from home. We live and work here, our children grow up here, many of the IDB family retire here, and all of us enjoy the benefits of this wonderful city and metropolitan area. It is not only our corporate responsibility but our civic responsibility to be part of this community.”

Yesterday’s event, which included the participation of community leaders, private sector representatives and executive directors of local non-profit organizations, also featured speeches by Washington DC Mayor Anthony Williams and Eugenio Arène, executive director of CLA.

Arène said he hoped the IDB’s visibility and its role in the Latino Federation of Greater Washington would help attract significant contributions from both the private and public sectors.

“At this point, Latino non-profit organizations are competing against each other for a limited number of dollars,” said Arène. “Currently only 1.5 percent of foundation grant dollars are targeted to Latinos. The Federation’s strategy is that together we can empower the Latino community, as well as the Hispanic non-profit community, to broaden our base to attract the philanthropic dollars we deserve.”

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