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Local Latino-led organizations awarded CIELO grant

The Inland Empire Community Foundation (IECF) is awarding their inaugural Cultivating Inland Empire Latino Opportunity, or CIELO Fund, grants to 25 Latino-led organizations across Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

According to the founding chair of the CIELO Fund, Jesse Melgar, the objective behind providing funding for local organizations is to work to address issues within the local Latino community like access to healthcare, educational gaps and immigrant support. 

After 110 submissions, $280,000 is being doled out to organizations across the Inland Empire, half of which are Coachella Valley-based. 

Grantees will receive grants ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 to further their efforts to uplift the local Latino community. 

“In this inaugural pot, we received about $1.5 million in requests. So obviously, these are organizations that are deserving. They're inspiring. These are folks that we want to be able to give to in the future,” said Melgar. 

CIELO Fund committee members and UC Riverside collaborated on their first report, “Aqui Estamos: A Data Profile of Latinos in the Inland Empire, using 2020 census data which identified where the local Latino community excels and where the most prominent exist. 

“As a research institution, it's very important for us to be very data driven but, also, we are a Hispanic serving institution. Ensuring that our students have not only programs and initiatives that are supporting their own educational journeys is valuable and impactful,” said Elizabeth Romero, Associate Vice Chancellor of Government and Community Relations at UC Riverside and CIELO Fund committee member. 

In their report, they determined that access to education was one of the most prominent needs, which is why organizations like East Coachella Valley for ChangeRead with Me and Alianza Coachella were chosen during this grant cycle. 

“...only 1 in 10 Latinos in the Inland Empire has a bachelor's degree or more, which means that we're now 52% of the population in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, yet only about 11% of our populations went to college,” said Melgar. 

In their next grant cycle, the CIELO Fund committee plans to measure the results of their funding in addition to addressing the needs of the community. 

“We also want to have measurable outcomes that we can point to say, investments in these areas through this fund and other foundational giving or participation led to improved outcomes for the Latino community,” Elizabeth Romero, Associate Vice Chancellor of Government and Community Relations at UC Riverside and CEILO Fund committee member. 

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