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Ernesto Olivares

The Latino Family Fund celebrates its 13th Annual Tequila Tasting Fundraiser, May 3, at Fortino Winery. The event sold out two weeks ago and has drawn great crowds during the past. Founded in 2006, the Latino Family Fund was established as a result of a study on Latino community philanthropy and giving. In this study, it was found that the Latino community was exceptionally generous in giving to those who lacked resources, albeit, not in any particular organized fashion. A few local families got together and realized that those monies could go much farther and make a greater impact through a more focused and strategic community investment process.

Following more discussion, the Latino Family Fund was founded and 13 years later it now has more than 100 family members, has grown an endowment through the Gilroy Foundation in order to give in perpetuity, and presents annual grants through its grant cycle and Youth in Philanthropy and Leadership Program. To date, LFF has awarded more than $20,000 in grants.

The Tequila Tasting Fundraiser, currently chaired by LFF founding members, Dr. John and Rachel Perez, is the biggest fundraiser. Monies are raised through ticket sales, silent and live auction, donations, sponsorships, and new memberships. There will be food, music, beer and wine bar, silent and live auction, premium tequila tasting and education, and the Nacho Moya art exhibit.

The Latino Family Fund, chaired by Enrique and Emily Diaz, is enjoying many successes. Membership has grown significantly. The investment you make in our community goes far in helping organizations which are striving to help those without resources. And there are many. Among past grant recipients are: St Joseph’s Family Center, The Compassion Center, Hope Services, CARAS, Child Advocates of Silicon Valley, DreamPower Foundation, Operation Freedom Paws, South County Cal-Soap, Eden Housing, Rebekah Children Services, South Valley Middle School Mariachi Program, and many other GUSD school programs. Please contact our grants chair, Jennifer Tomasello, about applying for our next grant cycle.

LFF has enjoyed impressive growth both in membership and financial resources. In addition to the above referenced fund raising avenues, LFF also has an annual appeal that goes out to its membership and community. And our Youth in Philanthropy and Leadership Program will now include all of our three middle schools, serving 90 students annually. YIP is a program in the Gilroy middle schools that promotes philanthropy, community service, leadership, and advocacy, all via youth grant giving. This program works in partnership with GUSD and school counselors. The YIP committee consists of nine volunteer members, chaired by Ernesto Olivares, and they meet monthly with the students in a classroom setting. Throughout the school year, these young students research and learn about the many nonprofits and charities and their respective missions. They identify which organizations they wish to support with a grant, debate, and advocate for those to be finalists, interview their directors, and select the grant winner. In addition, we provide two field trips annually, one to a corporate campus and another to a four year academic institution. Students not only learn of philanthropy and grant giving, but are inspired, engaged, and empowered. Every year, the students decide to hold their own fundraisers in order to award additional grants. The YIP program is fully funded by LFF.

You can volunteer, donate, or become an LFF member by contacting us at [email protected] You can also donate directly at And, friend us on Facebook.

Ernesto Olivares chairs the Youth in Philanthropy and Leadership Program of the Latino Family Fund.

Guest Column