Non-profit

Latino Engagement Action Fund (Democracy Alliance)

Type:

Hispanic political advocacy

Project of:

Sixteen Thirty Fund

Democracy Alliance

The Latino Engagement Action Fund (LEAF) is the sister organization of the Latino Engagement Fund (LEF) – a left-of-center grantmaking organization which backs initiatives aimed at the Hispanic community and the campaigns of candidates who claim to represent the interests of Hispanic voters. The LEAF and LEF are affiliated with a larger grantmaking organization called the New American Majority Fund (NAMF) which is itself a project of the Democracy Alliance, an influential and secretive assembly of left-of-center donors and organizations which has facilitated the expenditure of millions of dollars on various left-of-center causes.

While LEAF and LEF prioritize Hispanic outreach, NAMF supports a variety of identity-based causes, offering additional grants to organizations led by Native American, Asian American/Pacific Islander, and Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender activists. [1] [2]

Ideology and Methods

Latino Engagement Action Fund champions the concept of the “new American majority,” a term referring to a proposed collective of black, Hispanic, Asian, and other minority voters whom the Democratic Party views as part of its coalition to secure a long-term electoral advantage as the demographics of the United States shift. During the 2016 election, the LEAF heavily emphasized outreach to these groups, and particularly Hispanics, while labeling supporters of Republican candidate Donald Trump as “angry white men.” The fund also indicated that it opposed Trump’s proposals to deport illegal immigrants and build a wall along the United States-Mexico border. [3]

2016 Election

In 2016, the Latino Engagement Action Fund and Latino Engagement Fund worked not only on mobilizing likely Democratic voters within the Hispanic community but on attempting to win over undecided voters and bring down the percentage of Hispanics who supported Republican nominee Donald Trump. In a blog post discussing the groups’ strategy, the Democracy Alliance called it “alarming” that, according to polling data, as many as 30 percent of Hispanics were not decided on who to vote for, and that 12 percent had indicated support for Trump. Democracy Alliance criticized the financial backers of the LEAF and LEF for allegedly cutting back their support compared to previous years and called for greater funding of mobilization campaigns directed at Hispanics. The article also identified several of the groups that the funds were backing that year, including the voter engagement organizations Mi Familia Vota and One Arizona, as well as Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition Action. [4]

President Trump ended up winning nearly 30 percent of the Hispanic vote in the 2016 general election, with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton receiving just 65 percent despite polling above 70 percent with Hispanic voters prior to the election. [5]

Major Donors

In 2014, the Latino Engagement Action Fund received a $250,000 grant from the National Education Association, the largest teachers’ union in the United States and a leading backer of left-progressive activist movements. The union gave a further $160,000 to the LEAF parent organization Democracy Alliance. [6]

The same year, LEAF received a $650,000 grant from the Atlantic Philanthropies, a now-defunct collective of grantmaking organizations created by American businessman Charles Feeney in 1982 which were notable for being incorporated overseas, giving them greater flexibility in funding nonprofit groups. The grant was intended to help the LEAF continue the “political pressure” to loosen immigration laws and allow the fund to keep up its efforts during a non-presidential election year. Atlantic Philanthropies directed the grant through the Sixteen Thirty Fund, which supports the LEAF and many other Democracy Alliance’s projects. [7] The previous year, the LEAF also received a $47,800 grant directly from the Sixteen Thirty Fund [8]

References

  1. “New American Majority Fund.” Democracy Alliance. Accessed April 4, 2022. https://democracyalliance.org/organization/new-american-majority-fund/ ^
  2. Holly K. Sonneland and Nicki Fleischner. “How U.S. Latinos Voted in the 2016 Presidential Election.” American Society/Council of the Americas. November 10, 2016. Accessed April 4, 2022. https://www.as-coa.org/articles/chart-how-us-latinos-voted-2016-presidential-election ^
  3. Gara Lamarche. “New American Majority Turnout is Vital to Win in November – and Needs Sustained Investment.” Democracy Alliance. September 26, 2016. Accessed April 4, 2022. https://democracyalliance.org/from-the-president/new-american-majority-turnout-vital-win-needs-sustained-investment/ ^
  4. “To Engage Latinos, We Need to Talk to Them as People, Not Just Voters.” Democracy Alliance. October 12, 2016. Accessed April 4, 2022. https://www.as-coa.org/articles/chart-how-us-latinos-voted-2016-presidential-election ^
  5. Holly K. Sonneland and Nicki Fleischner. “How U.S. Latinos Voted in the 2016 Presidential Election.” American Society/Council of the Americas. November 10, 2016. Accessed April 4, 2022. https://www.as-coa.org/articles/chart-how-us-latinos-voted-2016-presidential-election ^
  6. Rishawn Biddle. “NEA’s $132 Million Influence Spree.” Dropout Nation. November 24, 2014. Accessed April 4, 2022. http://dropoutnation.net/2014/11/24/neas-132-million-influence-spree/ ^
  7. “Latino Engagement Action Fund.” The Atlantic Philanthropies. Accessed April 4, 2022. https://www.atlanticphilanthropies.org/grants/latino-engagement-action-fund ^
  8. Sixteen Thirty Fund 2013 Internal Revenue Service Form 990. Accessed April 4, 2022. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/264486735/201433219349304608/full ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Daaiyah Bilal-Threats
    Advisory Board Member
  2. Julie Kohler
    Advisory Board Member
  3. Jee Kim
    Advisory Board Member
  4. Katherine Peck
    Advisory Board Member
  5. Rocio Saenz
    Advisory Board Member
  6. Michael Podhorzer
    Advisory Board Member
  7. Steven Phillips
    Advisory Board Member
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