Gigi Pedraza Leading Investment in Georgia's Latinx Community

President Paige introduced Ms. Gilda (Gigi) Pedraza, Executive Director of the Latino Community Fund of Georgia. Gigi, as she is known, was born in Lima,Peru', arriving in the USA as an adult. Gigi explained the word Hispanic refers to all Spanish speakers, while Latino is a geographic term for those from Latin America. Some of these are non-Spanish speaking countries like Brazil. Gigi emphasized a new gender-neutral term is also in use to refer to this population, Latinx. 87% of the Latinx population in this country are U.S. citizens under the age of 17, with the average age being 25 years old. The influx of Latinos in Georgia came about during the period before the 1996 Olympics. Most were farm workers from Mexico brought in to provide quick and easy labor in preparation for the Olympics. Today in Georgia, the majority of Latinos are Mexicans with Puerto Ricans second, and the rest from all over the other Latin American countries. The Latino population – now at 923,000 in GA - is growing faster than in any other state. By 2050, 1 in 6 Georgians in the state will be Latino. Gigi explained the LCF Georgia’s mission: To be a catalyst for investment, collaborative work, and a positive narrative for the Latino/Hispanic Community in Georgia. It seeks to be a trusted connector between funders, nonprofits, individuals, and businesses working and investing with and within the Latinx community. LCF Georgia has 30 member organizations across the state. The key focus areas affecting all Lations: Health and Safety, Education, Civic engagement Leadership development, and Economic development and mobility. It is rooted in collective strength and investment. The LCF Georgia original budget was $10K – today it is $800K. It is all critically important because the average income level is $21,000 with health care and transportation being the biggest obstacle. For children Prek to 12th grade, housing is the biggest issue. Many families live together in single-family homes or apartments – only 41% own homes. Also of concern is only 37% have health insurance She surprised us by saying that Latinos in Georgia receive only $12 million of the $394M invested in nonprofits. Further, very few dollars go to Latino businesses and only 0.1% of all investments are allocated to Hispanics. 80% of Latino entrepreneurs are immigrants. Gigi says big on the horizon for LCF is voter registration. Last year $120,000 went to mobilize Hispanic voters. Gigi has also established the first Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Renewal Fund for Latinos. LCF Georgia also invests in the first Latinx Giving Circle supporting scholarships, seed-capital for entrepreneurs, and to support for naturalization. Also, LCF Georgia was the host for a national conference, Grant Makers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees.

Posted by Eric John
November 8, 2019 2:00pm