Working Together in the New America

By Gili Malinsky, HIP Contributor The elections this November highlighted much about America, including the growing rifts between its various populations (those on the coasts and those in much of the middle of the country, for instance). As the country figures out how, exactly, to come together again, it is incumbent upon Latino-focused philanthropists and nonprofits to do the same. November also saw HIP’s conference, Migration in the Northern Triangle, Mexico, and the U.S.: Changing Contextual and Philanthropic Landscapes. The conference featured organizations from across the region working toward fair labor laws and practices, fighting human rights injustices, and ensuring the protection of the environment. Probably the most poignant point (and one raised multiple times) was how to work together as organizations and philanthropies with thousands of constituents and seemingly differing goals. Because, ultimately, there are so many overlaps within goals, and change can only happen when all work together. In a phone conversation with HIP Program Manager Tania Duran, she touched on a number of points that are important to keep in mind moving forward. First, that a movement related to a specific issue (like immigrant rights, for instance) is made up of many stakeholders, and all of them matter. These stakeholders include the philanthropists that are funding activities as well as the nonprofits fighting on the front lines; but they also include individuals who might be outside both those spheres but who are organizing to address their communities’ problems. “If you are a staffer at a nonprofit,” she says of how these all work together, “you get paid to do that.” If you’re an undocumented youth working at McDonald’s and organizing in grassroots ways, however, you might have to miss work to organize. And that’s income you need. One thing these groups are trying to figure out is how to pay young people coming to organize, “so they can actually participate and not feel that they cannot make the income needed for their survival,” she says. For example, in the latest round of grantmaking, Duran said HIP received a request from a network of nonprofits and grassroots groups working together and redistributing resources in the best way for everyone. Capacity building is important, too, both for philanthropies and nonprofits. More specifically, philanthropies should be looking at organizations that are thinking big picture. How are the groups turning to them working not just on their own specific goals but in ways that can really affect a bigger change? With nonprofits, this is a key time to invest in capacity building that helps them reframe their thinking so they understand how they fit into a bigger context, and how their work in the Latino community intersects with that of other groups fighting for racial justice, gender equality, and LGBTQ rights. Tania outlined several key points for change-makers in the Latino community to consider moving forward: Strategic goals:
  • Strengthen the voices and leadership of those most directly affected by immigration policies within the Latino community
  • Support and build the capacity of networks of Latino organizations and promote collaboration to make an impact in the communities they serve
  • Reframe issues in a way that highlights intersections across social justice movements through a racial and gender equity lens
  • Deepen the understanding of movement-building and philanthropy’s role in supporting its constituents
Ultimately, organizations across the board of human rights can work together to ensure waves of change really happen. But it’s important, first, to recognize and help the many stakeholders of each movement, then to see where the overlaps take place and how members in all can be strengthened to move attitudes and legislation forward.