Skip to comments.Nonprofits striving to reach out to growing Hispanic population
Posted on 03/13/2011 5:24:05 AM PDT by mcosta79
As Austin's Hispanic population increases, some local nonprofit groups are boosting their efforts reach Latinos.
They're seeking bilingual staffers. They're trying to recruit Hispanic donors, volunteers and board members. They're consulting strategists to better understand the culture and reach people more effectively.
Meanwhile, Cultural Strategies a Latino-focused marketing and advertising company and the Texas Association of Nonprofit Organizations recently created Engage 501 , a training series designed to teach Texas charities about population changes, cultural differences, multicultural marketing and building relationships with communities. That program will begin in the spring.
"I think in light of the changing demographics and the census, a lot of people have been paying attention to this lately," said Priscilla Guajardo Cortez , co-founder of FuturoFund , which provides grants to nonprofits serving Hispanics. "I feel like there is a larger movement. I don't know that it's very coordinated, but there are people out there doing things."
Over the past 10 years, Austin's Hispanic population has grown 38 percent, jumping from 201,000 in 2000 to 278,000 in 2010, according to recent census data. One out of three Austin residents is Hispanic.
The statistics are not news to nonprofits, which have long seen the number of Latinos they serve increasing. In 2006 , 34 percent of the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas' 175,000 clients were Hispanic. In 2010 , the nonprofit served 285,000 people; 38 percent were Hispanic.
Some nonprofits such as El Buen Samaritano , dental-care provider Manos de Cristo and the education-focused Con Mi Madre specifically target Hispanics. But all nonprofits need to make efforts to connect with the population, said Sylvia Acevedo , who created Feria Para Aprender , an annual education fair for Hispanic families.
"We find so many nonprofits that think, 'Well, there's that one group that already works with the Hispanic population,'\u2009" she said. "But there isn't one organization that can do it all."
Nonprofits use a variety of techniques to reach Latinos. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas makes its website available in Spanish and English. The American Red Cross of Central Texas made Spanish-language videos to be used in its emergency shelters. The food bank ensures that it has bilingual volunteers or staffers manning its mobile food pantries.
The Settlement Home for Children , a residential treatment center for girls with emotional or behavioral problems, has been hosting quinceañeras for its youth since 2004 . Last month, five girls dressed up in donated formal gowns and had their nails done for a big party held in honor of their 15th birthdays. The festivities included food, a mariachi band and guests, said public relations director Andi Kelly .
"It is definitely an effort to connect with their culture, and we realize, too, that it's a part of a traditional Hispanic girl's upbringing, and we want our girls here to have that experience," she said.
Any Baby Can , which provides families with education, therapy and support services, seeks out connections with Hispanics at schools, education fairs and the Mexican consulate. Although these techniques can be effective, they're only part of the picture, said Ellen Balthazar , executive director of Any Baby Can.
"You don't just want people (on staff) who are bilingual; you want people who are bicultural," she said. "There's a difference between finding someone who speaks the language and someone sensitive to the cultural difference."
Attracting Hispanics through culture is a complicated prospect because they are not a homogenous group, said Armando Rayo, vice president of engagement for Cultural Strategies . Some Hispanics are new Americans; others come from families that have been here for generations. Some are low-income, others more affluent. And each of them must be approached differently, he said. If you're trying to reach parents, you want family-centric themes and events, he said. If you want career-oriented Latinos to join your cause, you might pitch them volunteer or leadership opportunities.
The Sustainable Food Center , a nonprofit that promotes farmers' markets, gardening and healthy eating, does this through the Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre cooking program. Its cookbooks include Latin-inspired dishes suggested by students, spokeswoman Susan Leibrock said. The group also recruits its students to become volunteers.
Five years ago, Jovita Hernandez came to the Sustainable Food Center to learn how to read food labels, measure her portions, eat more vegetables and use nutritious ingredients in her meals. Now she teaches that class for the Austin nonprofit.
"I feel I can help a lot of people, and I am so excited to do it," she said.
But often, Latinos are overlooked from board, donation and volunteer recruitment efforts, said Ivan Davila , spokesman for El Buen Samaritano, which provides health and education services for Hispanics. Because of that, nonprofits aren't tapping into a population that has much to offer in terms of ideas, leadership and finances.
"It's important to recognize the many strengths it brings. To name only a few: family values, a deep sense of community and a strong influence on one another," Davila said. "If done appropriately, Latino engagement can result in a tremendous wave of growing support for Austin nonprofits."
"[M]uch to offer" except the willingness to board members, donors, or volunteers.
It's a measure of Davila's obtuseness, no doubt born of fragile pride, that he sees no contradiction in attempting to recruit donors from the very same population that's receiving the handouts.
"You don't just want people (on staff) who are bilingual; you want people who are bicultural," she said. "There's a difference between finding someone who speaks the language and someone sensitive to the cultural difference." When gringos insist that there's a "cultural difference" in effect, i.e. that Latinos aren't assimilating, they're shouted down as xenophobes. When Latinos casually mention the same, they're expressing sensitivity. No transparently double standard to see here, folks.
I’d not mind paying taxes that went toward getting busses to take EVERY ONE of the Illegals back to the Border; along with those “Anchor Babies” they deposited here. I’d say a $1000 Bounty for every one turned in and deported should be paid to ANY U.S. Citizen who does the pointing.