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Growing strong Latinx communities in North Carolina

Special Interest Programme / Partner story

Photo courtesy of North Carolina Collaborative for Strong Latinx Communities (NCCSLC)

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, there was a risk that already marginalised groups in parts of rural North Carolina, US, would miss out on healthcare or financial support. But a powerful community response ensured that people of Latin-American descent (Latinx people) were not overlooked, and several not-for-profit community organisations in the region rallied together to provide support to members of the Latinx community.

Latinx community organisations have been working in North Carolina since the 1990s, when first-generation immigrants started to move there in increasing numbers. For many Latinx people, English is not their first language, so community support has always been vital to provide language and cultural interpretation – the first step for anyone trying to navigate a new system and understand their rights. Today, Latinx people make up around 10 per cent of the population of North Carolina, and second and third generations increasingly fulfil that function for their elders – but the need for not-for-profit organisations working at the community level remains.

The North Carolina Collaborative for Strong Latinx Communities (NCCSLC) works to resource and connect various community-based organisations that are part of a vibrant grassroots movement empowering Latinx communities to access services, affirm their rights, and keep their indigenous cultures alive in North Carolina.

“Our projects ensure that across the generations, Latinx people feel like North Carolina is home, like they have a place here and they have something to contribute,” says NCCSLC project manager Zulayka Santiago. NCCSLC’s guiding ethos is participatory grant-making. This approach recognises that people from communities seeking support are best placed to make their own decisions about that support. In practice, NCCSLC convenes a council of Latinx community leaders from across the state to discuss and award grants. By collaborating in this way, the breadth and impact of grants is widened; a more just and equitable future is possible.

Watch this video to learn more about the specific projects NCCSLC supports:

Oak supports NC Latinx Collaborative through a grant to the Southern Vision Alliance, a grant-making organisation that supports frontline organizing projects, leadership programs , and collaborations led by directly-impacted communities in the U.S. South. In addition, Oak partner the Triangle Community Foundation, which works to reduce inequality and address the most pressing issues in the Triangle region of North Carolina, has been involved since the beginning as a funding and thought-partner.

Driven by the interests and passions of Oak’s Trustees, our Special Interest Programme provides the space and flexibility to make grants outside of Oak’s other programme strategies. Trustees support inspiring leaders, organisations, and projects from the local to global level, helping them succeed in their missions.