Creating a Home for New Philanthropists in Austin
A NEW GIVING CIRCLE CULTIVATES THE NEXT GENERATION
OF HISPANIC LEADERS.
When John-Michael and Priscilla Guajardo Cortez launched FuturoFund in October 2008, they never doubted that its success would be amplified by working with the Austin Community Foundation.
"For us it was a no brainer to go straight to ACF," says Priscilla Cortez. "They have in essence incubated us this first year and provided so much support and resources for us to get this off the groung. I don't know how much we could have done without their support."
FuturoFund is a circle of giving that grew from a group of friends who saw the need for Hispanic-focused leadership and philanthropy in Central Texas. The Cortezes said while there's no shortage of Hispanics in the Austin community who can give time, funds and talent, it's often the same few people who are asked over and over again to serve.
FuturoFund brings more people into the picture and connects potential donors and volunteers with are nonprofits. The giving circle also engages people who want to give back to their community, but aren't sure how to go about it.
"When people tell us they're interested in FuturoFund, they don't know what they're passionate about yet--they don't know what the issues are, so how can they be engaged?" John-Michael Cortez says.
FuturoFund does not have formal nonprofit organization status, so affiliating with ACF both gave it legitimacy and made it easier for people to give. ACF processes online donations and acknowledgements, and lends administrative support, which the Cortezes say is invaluable. Each of FuturoFund's 100-plus members contribute $500 annually to a collective pool. In its first year, the fund granted $40,000 to the Worker's Defense Project and another $10,000 to the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas.
The Cortezes said their goal for the next year is to attract more members and give a total of $100,000 annually in grants. But, awarding grants isn't the only success of the FuturoFund; it's also seen strong support and interest from Austin and other Texas communities.
A number of nonprofits have responded to FuturoFund's goals to prepare a new generation of community leaders. At the same time, others have approached the couple asking for advice on creating similar funds in their own communities. And the Cortezes have been surprised at the diversity of Austin's FuturoFund's membership in its first year.
"I didn't expect for other communities to get so excited about doing this," John-Michael Cortez said.
"We've been amazed at the diversity of people who have joined-we have Asians, African Americans, Anglos-but, also diversity in age. I got a call from one guy who said he'd been living in Austin all his life, and that he had been waiting for 30 years for someone to do something like this-he said 'Sign me up!'"