Hispanic Organization Profile interview with Priscilla Guajardo, co-founder of Austin’s FuturoFund

This week’s Hispanic organization profile interview is with Priscilla Guajardo, co-founder of Austin’s FuturoFund.  In addition to the FuturoFund, Guajardo is  the associate director of development for the University of Texas.   The fund’s co-founder is her husband John Michael-Cortez, a community relations official with Capital Metro. Priscilla Guajardo Cortez

Hispanic PR Blog: What is the FuturoFund and what makes your organization unique compared to other Hispanic business professional organizations?

Guajardo: FuturoFund Austin is a Hispanic-focused giving circle; a collective effort to engage our community through philanthropy and leadership.  FuturoFund members make equal contributions to a charitable fund held by the Austin Community Foundation.  Members are engaged in a grant-making process through which 100% of member contributions are granted to deserving nonprofit organizations making an impact in the Hispanic community.

We are an all volunteer organization.  Our founding members (18 total) serve as a steering committee for the organization and our three standing committees (Grants, Special Events/PR, and Membership/Outreach) carry out the programming and activities throughout the year.

Hispanic PR Blog: Tell us about your organization’s history and membership.

Guajardo: Founded by a group of Hispanic professionals in 2008, FuturoFund Austin was established to provide a new way to leverage the tremendous talent and resources in our community to positively impact our future.  FuturoFund members include people of different backgrounds, philosophies, ages and occupations, but all united by a common commitment to make a difference in our community.

Hispanic PR Blog: How is the FuturoFund involved in bettering the lives of Latinos?

Guajardo: 100% of FuturoFund members’  contributions will be granted to deserving organizations impacting the Hispanic community.  Members are entitled to one vote toward determining recipients of FuturoFund grants, with a majority vote determining grant recipients in the following areas:

• Arts and Culture
• Community Development
• Education
• Health and Human Services
• Social Justice

Through members’ participation in the grant process, FuturoFund inspires and engages the next generation of leaders; mobilizing their passions, talents and resources to support innovative social change.  FuturoFund is also a means to encourage social and professional networking through meaningful activities and events.

Hispanic PR Blog: Do you have any specific programs that help the Austin Hispanic community?

Guajardo: We are currently developing a leadership development program for FuturoFund members and for local nonprofit organizations.  The goal is to provide the tools and resources for our members to be effective board members for local nonprofit organizations.  We also hope to work with the nonprofit community to develop strategies for encouraging involvement and engagement of the Hispanic community as volunteers and board members.

Hispanic PR Blog: How have you been partnering with local businesses and organizations?

Guajardo: We have received in-kind support from local businesses and organizations as we host various recruitment and networking events throughout the year.  We also have had the opportunity to present to professional organizations on the benefits of joining FuturoFund Austin.

Hispanic PR Blog: Do you have any corporate sponsors? If so, who are they and how do you partner with them?

Guajardo: We currently do not have any corporate sponsors.  This will be a focus our efforts in our second year.

Hispanic PR Blog: You recently selected two local organizations for grants totaling $50,000.   How do you select organizations that you provide grants to?

Guajardo: In an effort to have the greatest impact possible, FuturoFund chose to award two grants:  1)  a large grant for $40,000 and 2) a small grant for $10,000.  Only nonprofit organizations that have been in existence since 2006 were eligible to apply for the large grant.  Any nonprofit organization with an annual operating budget under $150,000 was eligible to apply for the small grant.

In its first year, FuturoFund received over 70 applications from local nonprofit organizations.  The grant application required applicants to provide basic information, including the organization’s mission and achievements, an explanation of their request for support, including a budget, and their organizational leadership with both board and staff levels.  Grant applicants were also required to submit supplemental information such as financials, IRS certification, and funding sources.  The Grants Committee reviewed each application on several criteria as you can see here:  1) Impact in the Latino Community, not just serving the Latino community but also engaging them; 2) Organizational Strength; and 3) Commitment to Diversity.

The Grants Committee conducted two rounds of review ultimately narrowing down the pool to 9 semi-finalists.  Site visits were conducted with these semi-finalists in September to provide the Grants Committee with an opportunity to further capture information about the organization’s impact in the community.  At the completion of the site visits, the Grants Committee convened to share what they learned and 6 finalists were chosen.  Ultimately, the finalists were chosen based on a totality of their grant application, supplemental documentation and site visit.

Hispanic PR Blog: What, if any, has been the biggest challenge your organization has faced in light of the current economy and how are you coping?

Guajardo: We launched FuturoFund Austin at the same time the economy began to decline.  For a brief time, we considered postponing our launch but quickly realized that the down economy would affect nonprofit organizations and this meant our efforts to raise support for nonprofit organizations was ever more critical.  There were some individuals who were not able to join us in our first year, but we are committed to increasing our membership and our impact every year so we encouraged them to keep us in mind for the next year.

Hispanic PR Blog: How can individuals, companies or organizations become involved with the FuturoFund?

Guajardo: Individuals can join us by downloading a pledge form at www.futurofund.com and faxing/emailing it to (email: futurofundaustin@gmail.com; fax: 512-597-3652).  Pledges can also be made online through the Austin Community Foundation website at www.austincommunityfoundation.org.

Companies and organizations can help support us with volunteers, in-kind donations, and support for our many events and activities throughout the year.  We have also hoping to raise enough support to create an endowment which will complement our annual philanthropic goals.

We do not have physical offices.  As we are a charitable fund of the Austin Community Foundation, information may be sent to them at:
Austin Community Foundation
P.O. Box 5159
Austin, TX 78763

They are physically located at:
4315 Guadalupe, Suite 300
Austin, Texas 78751