Boston - On the heels of contributing more than $333,500 over the past year and a half to COVID-19 relief efforts, the Latino Equity Fund is turning its attention to the next phase – addressing systemic issues of health and economic inequality. The goal is to take lessons learned from the pandemic to influence policy that will support programs, industries and people impacted by COVID.
“Latinx and BIPOC communities have suffered disproportionately high rates of infection, hospitalization, and death,” said Evelyn Barahona, Director of Latino Equity Fund. “They have been more likely to work in front-line and high-risk jobs, and as economic crisis has taken hold, they are experiencing higher rates of unemployment. We are using our influence, platform and partnerships to combat these issues, build power and equity across Massachusetts, and amplify the diverse voices and perspectives of our community.”
As the pandemic took hold in March 2020, the Latino Equity Fund (LEF) began distributing grant money to address the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Latinx community and other communities of color. The funds directly supported COVID-related initiatives addressing issues like access to healthcare, educational resources and workforce inequity.
Now LEF, the Commonwealth’s first and only philanthropic fund focused on the Latinx community, is setting its sights on the longer-term equity issues exposed by the pandemic, and mapping ways to support the community through workforce and health equity related initiatives.
“COVID-19 shined a light on health disparities,” said Juan Lopera, Co-Chair of the Latino Equity Fund. “Now we need to act on systematic change to healthcare because clearly the health care system is not working for all, and if anything, the disparities that existed and persisted pre-COVID multiplied because of the pandemic.”
Mobile Vax Clinics: Specially equipped vans vaccinated up to 500 people per day in predominately Latinx areas; coordinating with Tufts Health Plan and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care to offer this free service
LEF has also expanded its leadership team by hiring Barahona as its first Director and adding healthcare leaders to its 18-person Advisory Committee of Latino leaders: Joseph R. Betancourt, M.D. and Ruben F. Salinas. They join the committee next to Phillip González, Senior Program Officer of the Tufts Health Plan Foundation. LEF Co-Chair Lopera was also named in the inaugural role of Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer at Beth Israel Lahey Health. LEF’s expanded expertise and leadership in health equity has enabled the fund to directly support organizations and individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic this past year. Earlier this year, LEF launched a $10 million fundraising campaign to address the needs of the Latinx community.
“Equity must remain at the forefront of COVID-19 recovery efforts,” said Aixa Beauchamp, Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Latino Equity Fund. “LEF has established a strong foundation and a track record of providing culturally sensitive and timely grantmaking, being a responsive and nimble platform for ideas and innovation, creating a community and philanthropic network for diverse donors to connect and learn. We will continue to aid Latinx and BIPOC communities through this public health and economic crisis to see a brighter future.”