Heal Fund Grant as
Nonprofit Launching Pad
Karina Monroy was one of those grant recipients who felt seen. The program coordinator of Creciendo Juntos, a Latinx education and leadership development group, Monroy arrived in Charlottesville from Los Angeles six months after the violence. The Heal Charlottesville Fund was the first grant she applied for in her new position and it was, she said, “a launching pad for me and for Creciendo Juntos.” (The Spanish phrase translates, roughly, to “growing together.”)
The whole process of writing the grant was “liberating,” she said, “because just the wording and the terminology that the Heal Fund [application materials] used made me feel like I could use that wording and terminology, whereas other [funders] get intimidated by those things or think that we shouldn’t be talking about those things.”
Monroy continued: “It made me feel like I could be honest and transparent about the real issues that are happening in our community.”
In the Latinx community, those include education and language. Monroy herself grew up speaking only Spanish at home because her immigrant parents didn’t want her to lose the language. But her parents’ poor English made it difficult to communicate with teachers, which made it seem—to the teachers, at least—as if her parents didn’t care about their daughter’s education.
The Latinx leadership group at Creciendo Juntos works a benefit concert in 2018. From left to right are Veronica, Alexandra, Jose, Pilar, Karina, Maria and Ingrid.
Creciendo Juntos seeks to bridge such divides while also building leaders. A group of young men and women, aged fifteen and older, has been meeting since February 2018. “They come with their parents and we talk about leadership and what that means in our community,” Monroy said. “We focus on breaking down the notion of what a leader looks like.” For instance, leadership does not always mean talking the loudest. Instead, it can mean “showing up today and meeting all these people in your community,” Monroy said. “That in itself is taking initiative and being a leader in your community.”
The group’s approach is culturally specific, too. “We’re a very family-based culture,” she said, “so the fact that we’re inviting kids with their parents to come and talk about these things is really important.”
One of her leadership students, Elizabeth Valtierra, created a series of college workshops as part of a Heal Fund grant. “It was one of the most amazing successes we’ve had,” Monroy said.
Monroy praised Valtierra, in particular. “She really came up with the idea and was part of the whole planning process,” she said. “It was a huge project,” she said, that included four nights of workshops.
“It’s been the best part of my job, working alongside her and growing with her and learning together with her. And that all just stemmed from that Heal Fund grant, which is kind of amazing.”
However, not all grants followed this traditional model of the Community Foundation’s money going to a nonprofit organization.