Aspen Institute Latinos and Society Program Inspires the Launch of Latino Engagement and Achievement Fund (LEAF)

April 25, 2017

Permanent endowment will support Latino civic engagement in the DC Metro region

Contact: Marie Samaniego
The Aspen Institute
(202) 736-2299 |

Washington, DC, April 25, 2017 – The Aspen Institute Latinos and Society Program’s work on increasing Latino civic participation inspired the launch of the Latino Engagement and Achievement Fund (LEAF), a new endowment to support DC Metro Hispanic civic organizations. The new initiative, housed at the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, was launched on Thursday, April 13, 2017. The Latinos and Society Program published a report titled “Unlocking Latino Civic Potential: 2016 and Beyond” which was the result of a convening it organized of diverse civic engagement leaders that identified key challenges and recommendations for boosting the low rates of Latino civic participation.

Paty Funegra, co-founder of LEAF and a Ricardo Salinas Foundation Scholar at the Aspen Institute’s Socrates Program in 2016, attended the report launch which inspired her and co-founder Diana Katz to create the new initiative. The Ricardo Salinas Foundation Scholarship aims to increase the participation of Latinos in the Aspen Institute’s public events, policy roundtables, leadership seminars and other convenings. To date, 166 scholarships have been granted. The Latinos and Society program believes that by bringing together Latino voices around the country’s most pressing issues, we can help develop more knowledgeable leaders, cultivate a more educated and informed citizenry, and promote the engagement of all people in securing a prosperous and inclusive future for America.

“After attending the Socrates Program as a Ricardo Salinas Scholar and after seeing the clarity with which the Report “Unlocking Latino Civic Potential: 2016 and Beyond” communicated key recommendations that seek to advance Latino civic engagement, I felt the urge to take action, to raise awareness and to inspire local philanthropist to invest in ensuring that our voices are heard, that Latinos are more civically engaged to more effectively represent their thriving Latino communities drawing attention as contributors, innovators, and leaders” said Paty Funegra.

Following the report launch, Paty and LEAF co-founder Diana Katz, decided to make a statement and set an example for the community. They approached the Community Foundation with a vision to create a source of strategic, permanent funding to strengthen and encourage the Latino community for generations to come. The fund will be guided by four key recommendations in the Aspen Institute report: leadership development, civic education, voter engagement, and immigrant integration and naturalization. LEAF was officially launched announcing a gift of $100,000, and on the day of the event an anonymous donor pledged an additional $50,000 in matching funds.

“I am so honored how the work we embarked upon with other civic leaders culminating in a report with a roadmap for Latino civic participation, has inspired others in our community and I hope that the work of the Latinos and Society Program and the Ricardo Salinas Scholarships will continue to influence how the media, policymakers, or decision-makers understand and engage with American Latinos.” Said Abigail Golden-Vazquez, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Latinos and Society Program

About Aspen Latinos and Society Program
The Aspen Institute founded the Latinos and Society Program in order to bring Latinos and non-Latinos together to learn about their shared future and jointly explore solutions to the challenges of our times, particularly in the areas of civic participation, economic advancement and educational opportunity. It connects Latino leaders to Aspen Institute programs and networks, fostering collaborations that contribute to a more informed and inclusive vision of America. To learn more, follow @AspenLatinos, or visit

View Comments