2018 Year in Review: CFSA Initiatives

CFSA’s programs finished a rewarding year creating progress and increasing their reach within the community. Their commitment to enhancing lives in Southern Arizona has been unwavering, as they shared others’ stories, addressed widespread concerns and supported the work of local nonprofits.

African American Legacy Fund

In 2012 a group of African American community leaders worked with CFSA to form the African American Initiative, dedicated to building philanthropic support for and capacity within in the African American Community and nonprofits that serve it. Last year, that initiative took on a new name: The African American Legacy Fund (AALF).

While objectives haven’t changed, the organization has much matured since its inception explains Advisory Board Chair Wyllstyne Hill. “We’ve grown and developed in terms of understanding the community and how to support it. And we think that’s bigger than an initiative,” Hill says. “It’s really about leaving a lasting legacy of philanthropy, volunteering and building networks of support.”

Two programs AALF newly supported last year exemplify the collaborations shaping that legacy. Partnering with the Culture of Peace Alliance, the Fund supported the Youth Leadership Project to build knowledge and confidence among African American students at Amphi High School and help students feel more prepared and inspired to pursue leadership roles. Since 2016, the fund has awarded $ 95,000+ to 10 organizations focused on educational support for African American youth.

The Fund also turned its attention to sickle cell anemia, an inherited blood disorder that can reduce life expectancy, caused by a genetic trait found in one in 13 African American births. Partnering with the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Southern Arizona, AALF helped train teachers and other school personnel on how to support students dealing with the disease, personally or within their families.

Community Interactive

Last year’s Community Interactive: The Arts marked the fourth in a series of free community conversations presented by the Community Foundation in partnership with Arizona Public Media, once more bringing together national and local leaders to exchange ideas around issues that shape culture and society in Southern Arizona.

Moderated by Jeffrey Brown, Chief Correspondent for Arts, Culture, and Society for PBS NewsHour, the event explored why the arts matter to business, education and our regional economy. It was also a “working session” aimed at learning from people who have improved the arts in other communities and surfacing ideas for how Southern Arizona can become an even more engaged, vital and thriving arts community.

Past Community Interactive events have focused  on poverty and the working poor, education and the dynamics of Southern Arizona as a border region.

Latino Community Fund

Latinos make up 37 percent of Arizona’s population and 16 percent of the U.S. population. Yet a recent study found that Latino nonprofits receive a mere one percent of the more than $410 billion of charitable dollars given annually in the United States. “That’s a staggering statistic,” says Claudia Jasso, Vice-Chair of the CFSA Board of Trustees. “And when you consider communities that are heavily Latino, like ours, that inequity is even more important to address.”

To that end, Jasso formally established this past year the Latino Community Fund, our newest initiative and an evolution of the Cariño Latino Giving Circle, which she had founded with four other members of the local Latino community.

Preceding creation of the Fund, Jasso researched best practices and lessons learned at initiatives regionally and across the country, including the Arizona Community Foundation, Hispanics in Philanthropy, the San Francisco Foundation, the Latino Community Foundation (California) and the Chicago Community Trust.

A key takeaway was that the initiative should unfold in a grassroots process, evolving organically from the community itself. The Fund will also continue to operate in a “giving circle” model, which research indicates is highly effective for Latino philanthropy.

With a clearly defined purpose of strategically strengthening the Latino community and transforming lives by working for racial equity and social justice, the Fund seeks to inspire action through precise giving guidelines, including giving focused on organizations guided by Latino voices. “We’re very intentional about specifically supporting Latino-led and Latino-serving nonprofits,” Jasso explains. “We believe this will inspire people across the community to join us in creating real, positive and lasting change.”

LGBTQ+ Alliance Fund

Since its creation in 1999, the LGBTQ+ Alliance Fund has supported more than 60 organizations working across all domains of social and cultural needs, with awards totaling close to $810,000. Last year, the Fund was able to build on that success with an unprecedented 20 percent increase in granted funds over the previous year.

In part, the increase stemmed from a donor-funded part-time Director of Development, who equipped the Fund’s volunteers to approach new audiences of potential supporters. Board Chair Sally Dodds says the increase also reflects donors responding to a federal rollback of funding, services and civil rights protections for the LGBTQ+ community. “We have a community that is really inspired to make sure there are services available and that we’re able to answer the challenges we face,” she explains.

Among the 16 programs funded last year was the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project, which provides litigation support for LGBTQ detainees who often face harsher treatment and greater abuse while in custody. Also newly funded, the student-driven “I Am Me Project” at Pueblo High Magnet School created a curriculum and speakers program to give students, parents, faculty and staff across the region a basic understanding of LGBTQ issues.

As the Alliance Fund celebrates its 20th anniversary year in 2019, Dodds says the group will continue to work from a stance of social justice and explore its ability to provide larger grants. “We have some serious problems in our community,” she explains, citing youth suicide, aging seniors and immigration to name a few. “We’d like to provide the kind of longer-range support that really helps programs working on these issues to achieve sustainability.”

MAP Dashboard

Since 2014, MAP Dashboard has provided Southern Arizona with data across a range of indicators that give insight into our region’s successes, challenges and progress. From time to time, those indicators change, based in part on input gathered through public meetings.

As a result, last year saw the addition of four indicators: Housing Affordability, Behavioral Health, Physical Well-being and Creative Occupations. The latter category tracks the number of people employed in a wide set of jobs that generate new ideas, technologies and expressions — from architects and engineers to healthcare workers, scientists, artists and athletes.

MAP Dashboard also launched the Community Spotlight initiative in 2018, through which local organizations share how they use MAP data. The recent spotlight detailed how Tucson Values Teachers uses MAP in its advocacy work, showing politicians and the public that Tucson’s teacher pay trails wages in every one of our regional peer communities.

Additionally, MAP has continued to work with scholars to produce white papers on topics of public interest and value that are outside the project’s core indicators. Last year’s analysis of the region’s nonprofit sector, for example, drew data from across Southern Arizona’s human service nonprofits.

Findings suggested that affordable and stable housing is our region’s least common form of nonprofit assistance and its most common unmet need, likely as a result of persistent unemployment, job loss and evictions. Data indicated that education was by far the most common domain of local nonprofit assistance, provided by nearly half of the study’s respondents.

Pima Alliance for Animal Welfare

The Pima Alliance for Animal Welfare (PAAW) was created in 2012 as an initiative to facilitate collaboration among local groups and animal enthusiasts to ensure that all Pima County companion animals have a loving home and humane care.

Early on PAAW became involved in efforts to reduce the number of animals euthanized in Southern Arizona. Through much hard work on the part of many community stakeholders, our municipal shelter went from euthanizing 15,000 animals each year to now saving almost 90 percent of the pets that come through its doors, making it one of the top public shelters in the country.

Last year saw an exciting development from PAAW’s Human Animal Bond workgroup, which has been working to embed animal welfare into the assistance activities provided by local social service organizations.

As a result of this work, Mobile Meals of Southern Arizona now brings pet food monthly to its clients, 60 percent of whom also need food for their companion animals. Lutheran Social Services also now provides pet food for its clients, in addition to helping them by walking dogs and cleaning up pet waste. PAAW is helping with programmatic questions and volunteer recruitment for both organizations.

Last year also saw 140 dogs and cats find their new forever homes through PAAW’s fourth-annual Adopt Love Adopt Local mega-adoption event at the Tucson Expo Center. Twenty-four rescue organizations participated — some for the first time — and more than 2,000 people attended.