The idea of acceleration is a strange concept in 2020- a year where time both seems to be standing still and racing forward bringing new challenges at every turn. It has been an emotional rollercoaster. Luckily, we are riding it together.

Last week we hosted our Latino Nonprofit Accelerator retreat to take a collective deep breath, focus on our mental health, and reflect on the power of social movements to create lasting change. We were reminded by Juanita Chavez what her mom Dolores Huerta has taught us all: this is an organizing opportunity! When we join forces and unite— we win!

When the pandemic first hit, we were preparing for Demo Day, a pitch competition and community celebration. Instead, we postponed graduation of our second cohort and extended the program to provide additional coaching and fundraising support. We’ve tapped into our immigrant resilience and the strength of our communities to meet the moment.

Despite huge disparities in funding and the disproportionate harm of COVID, our Latino nonprofits have been a refuge for immigrant families and have served as a compass for our collective organizing work. What we’ve achieved together is incredible. It merits a collective pause.

Join me in celebrating these highlights of what each organization has accomplished since the start of the pandemic:

TODEC Legal Center was selected by the State of California and Governor Newson to help distribute one-time disaster relief assistance for undocumented Californians impacted by COVID-19. TODEC has dispersed $4.5M to over 9,000 families and is now partnering with Riverside County on a $1M partnership for affected farmworkers.

Dev/Mission has distributed over 500+ computers, monitors, and tablets to young adults and their families across all the public housing complexes in San Francisco to bridge the divide in access to distance learning. They have also raised over $50k through their COVID-19 Emergency Fund.

Dolores Huerta Foundation has hosted 27 food banks serving over 1,600 families more than 100,000 pounds of food. They have distributed thousands of masks, connected Latino families with financial assistance in Kern, Tulare, Fresno and LA Counties—all while energizing the vote.

Fresno Barrios Unidos was recently named CBO of the year by Assembly member Joaquin Arambula and have hired 9 youth to help mobilize the Latino vote and educate community members on the importance of Prop 15- the Schools & Communities First Initiative.

La Luz Center raised $300,000 for their COVID Crisis Fund providing more than 720 immigrant families with financial assistance in Sonoma.

North Bay Organizing Project (NBOP) helped secure critical tenant protections by winning the moratorium on evictions and created a tenant hotline with 10 trained counselors to help community members navigate housing issues.

Nuestra Casa of East Palo Alto raised over $120K in COVID response funds and hired 15 new youth leaders to meet the growing demand for their food distribution program.

Prospera launched the Resiliency Fund, a community managed fund that supports Prospera’s entrepreneurs and created Levantando Nuestras Voces, a coalition that creates brave spaces where entrepreneurs can raise their voices, regardless of their immigration status.

99 Rootz has built a political home for hundreds of young people and first-time voters in the Central Valley by creating authentic spaces and relationships that heal and energize young people.

The road ahead will not be easy. We are still responding to the pandemic, wildfires are raging across our state, and the election is weeks away. We need our collective strength.

That’s the ultimate purpose of our Latino Nonprofit Accelerator. A stronger, better sourced Latino nonprofit community that is united. Yes, we are helping grassroots leaders unleash their confidence by improving their branding and accelerating their fundraising game. But we do it all so that we have the collective capacity to dream bigger and to be bolder in our organizing for social change.

As Ashely Rojas, Executive Director of Fresno Barrios Unidos said before our last gathering, “Yes, we are tired—but we are out here winning!”

Join me in donating, following, and lifting up the work of our Accelerator cohort!

Written by Masha V. Chernyak, Vice President of Programs and founder of the Latino Nonprofit Accelerator

Originally published by the Latino Community Foundation: Source