In January, the CIELO Fund at IECF awarded $280,000 in inaugural grants. Grants were distributed to programs that address education equity, civic engagement, health access, economic mobility and immigrant services in the Latino community. The CIELO Fund grantmaking committee also wanted to ensure that the stories of those Latino-led organizations advancing this work were told.

“We thought it was important to focus on narrative shifts for the Latino community,” Jesse Melgar, CIELO Fund Founding Chair and IECF Board Member, said. “We did a scan of the region’s media outlets and valued KVCR’s regional role as a source for news and allowing residents to share their stories.”

Last year, Melgar met with San Bernardino Community College District’s Executive Vice Chancellor Jose Torres to share the Fund’s vision of launching a program that would cover the stories of non-profit organizations serving the Latino community in the Inland Empire.  In these early conversations, they discussed what the program could look like and the San Bernardino Community College District, which owns and operates KVCR, was invited to apply for a CIELO Fund grant.

The CIELO Fund awarded KVCR $20,000 in seed money to launch “IE Latino Voices.” The program will be hosted by Yvette Walker, an Upland resident who is Spanish bilingual and has over 20 years of communications experience.

IE Latino Voices will include 24 segments and recently launched on March 22, 2023, on KVCR 91.9 FM, featuring its first guest Dr. Felix Hernandez, executive director at Promise Scholars. The programming invites leaders of Latino-led and serving organizations to share their experiences, work, and the impact of that work. Melgar hopes these stories will reach audiences that may not be familiar with the guest’s stories and that this will be the first of many media partnerships for the Fund.

“The Desert Sun – Coachella Latino Voices Initiative” is another program envisioned by the CIELO Fund to spotlight nonprofits serving the Latino community in the Coachella Valley. The Coachella Latino Voices Initiatives will officially launch in April, featuring two monthly stories. The Desert Sun was also invited to apply for a grant, receiving $5,000 in seed money to launch the program.

These partnerships are vital to keeping communities informed and engaged. They support local journalists from community newsrooms in the expansion of their reporting on “quality of life” issues in the IE. In early 2022, led by Dr. Paulette Brown-Hinds, publisher of the Black Voice News and immediate past chair of IECF’s board, IECF established the Journalism and Media Fund to help build the future of local media and a pipeline of talent for the sector.

“Local journalism is essential to building resilient communities,” says Dr. Brown-Hinds. “When we invest in news organizations doing investigative, citizen and advocacy journalism, we’re cultivating reliable sources of news based on fact and integrity.”

Consider making gifts to the Journalism and Media Fund and the CIELO Fund as well. You’ll join other donors committed to amplifying community voices to bolster civic engagement and foster more active, informed communities.

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