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Latino Community Foundation brings together California nonprofits in Sonoma Valley

Ricardo Ibarra
Written by Ricardo Ibarra

What would happen if we invested in organizations like we do in startups? That’s the question that motivated the Latino Community Foundation to launch a nonprofit accelerator for agencies that provide services to Latinos, said its Vice President of Programs, Masha Chernyak.

“Why do tech entrepreneurs have access to all this capital, all this brilliance, all this mentorship, all this training and our nonprofits don’t. What I hear from our organizations is that they are changing the world, not in the future with an app that they are going to create, but now,” said Chernyak.

Located in the Bay Area, home to a matrix of companies valued in millions of dollars and where every year new tech companies arise, LCF brought together executives and staff from nine California organizations to Sonoma Valley, to help them expand their services to the Latino community.

La Luz Center in Sonoma and the North Bay Organizing Program in Santa Rosa are two organizations from the North Bay that were selected to participate in this 12-month incubator, which includes fund donations, fundraising consultations and a series of meetings to improve the organization’s image with design, marketing and photography.


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Juan Hernandez, executive director of La Luz Center, attended the retreat at Robledo Family Winery and explained the leadership project that LCF is promoting: “They want to see us reach the next level. They’re idea is: why don’t organizations, and specifically Latino organizations, receive funds like startups do, such as Blue Apron or Lyft.”

He said that La Luz would not be what it is without the support of LCF, who in a span of five years, has donated around $300,000 to the organization he leads. “That is a huge investment for the Latino community in Sonoma Valley,” he added.

The 2019-2020 program provides funds to the nonprofits  involved, Chernyak said. “We match each nonprofit with funding, with a fundraising coach that gives them ideas and open doors of opportunity. We match them with a branding coach that helps them rethink how they tell they’re organizational story, making sure that’s it’s authentic and said with real words and feelings.”

The ultimate goal, said Chernyak, is to “unleash power” within these organizations, “who have amazing leaders, who have a vision and have been producing incredible results. We chose them because they are ready to grow.”

Although the main goal is to help these nonprofits raise more funds, Chernyak said that it’s also about creating a community, investing in people’s trust and building relationships. “Money will not save us,” she said.

Some of the art work created during the Sonoma gathering was promoted by Raizes Collective, which also received LCF funds to increase the participation of the Latino community in the elections and the 2020 census, said its director, Isabel López.

“Undocumented people should participate in the census because by counting every individual in our community, we are able to secure funds to create programs that are important to Latinos,” Lopez said.

NBOP, another participant organization in the incubator, maintains its focus on three tasks within Sonoma County: affordable housing and tenant rights, advocacy for the immigrant community and environmental justice.

Other organizations participating in the LCF retreat in Sonoma were: Dolores Huerta Foundation, Prospera, Todec Legal Center, 99 Rootz, among others. Taco treats were provided by Sonoma Eats Real Mexican Food.

[Versión en español]

Noticias y eventos desde la región vinícola del norte de California para la comunidad latina.

Posted by La Prensa Sonoma on Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Reach La Prensa Sonoma’s Editor Ricardo Ibarra at 707-526-8501 or email On Twitter @ricardibarra.

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