Non-profit

Latino Engagement Fund (Democracy Alliance)

Type:

Voter Mobilization Group

Project of:

New Venture Fund

Democracy Alliance

Director:

Dave Montez

The Latino Engagement Fund (LEF) is a left-of-center grantmaking organization which provides funding to voter mobilization initiatives aimed at the Hispanic community and to the political campaigns of left-leaning candidates who claim to represent the interests of Hispanic voters. The fund also provides financial support to activist movements pushing for policies it supports, prioritizing those led by Hispanics. The LEF operates across the United States but is particularly focused on its efforts in Florida, New Mexico, and Virginia.

The fund is part of a larger grantmaking organization called the New American Majority Fund (NAMF) which also includes the Black Civic Engagement Fund, a similar organization which targets black voters and funds black-led activism projects. In turn, NAMF is a project of the Democracy Alliance, an influential and secretive assembly of wealthy philanthropists which has poured millions of dollars into various left-of-center causes since its formation in 2005. While the two funds subordinate to the NAMF prioritize Hispanic and black outreach, the NAMF itself 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]

In May 2012, New York Magazine reported that the LEF was one of many beneficiaries of a $2 million grantmaking initiative by billionaire financier and liberal dark money leader George Soros, the head of the Open Society Network and its international collective of activist groups. [2]

2016 Election

During the 2016 presidential election, the 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 Democracy Alliance blog post discussing its strategy, LEF 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. The LEF criticized its financial backers for allegedly cutting back their support compared to previous years and called for greater funding of Democratic Party-oriented mobilization campaigns directed at Hispanics. The fund also identified several of the groups it was backing that year, including the voter engagement organizations Mi Familia Vota and One Arizona, as well as Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition Action. [3]

 

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 in the lead-up to the election. [4]

Leadership

Dave Montez became the director of the Latino Engagement Fund in July 2016. He was previously the executive director of the activist group One Colorado and the acting president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, a left-of-center LGBT pressure group which targets the media and entertainment industry. Montez also worked for the Gill Foundation, a grantmaking organization supporting same-sex and transgender advocacy efforts, where he oversaw the foundation’s Latino Initiative, an effort to push back against traditionalist views on gender and sexuality within the Hispanic community. [5]

Eddy Morales was the director of the LEF from 2012 to 2016. Like Montez, he is an activist for same-sex and transgender causes, and has been a board member of the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund. He was also the deputy director of the Democratic-aligned Hispanic voter mobilization group Voto Latino. [6]

Financials

In May 2014, the Washington Free Beacon obtained documents detailing the Democracy Alliance’s planned distribution of funding to its subordinate projects. According to the documents, the organization had allocated between $1.5 and $2 million for the Latino Engagement Fund and the same amount to the Black Civic Engagement Fund, the sister organization of the LEF within the NAMF. [7]

The LEF has received funding from other large, left-leaning foundations, including $50,000 from the Sandler Foundation in 2014 and a combined $49,518 from the Tides Foundation in 2014 and 2015. [8] [9] [10]

References

  1. “New American Majority Fund.” Democracy Alliance. Accessed April 4, 2022. https://democracyalliance.org/organization/new-american-majority-fund/ ^
  2. Brett Smiley. “George Soros and Other Rich Guys to Infuse Democrats With $100 Million for Grassroots Efforts.” New York. May 8, 2012. Accessed April 4, 2022. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2012/05/george-soros-other-rich-guys-to-give-obama-100m.html ^
  3. “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 ^
  4. 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 ^
  5. “The Latino Engagement Fund’s New Director.” July 15, 2016. Accessed April 4, 2022. https://democracyalliance.org/da-news/latino-engagement-fund-new-director/ ^
  6. “Eddy Morales.” National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund. January 11, 2016. Accessed April 4, 2022. https://www.thetaskforceactionfund.org/thefeed/board-bio-eddy-morales/ ^
  7. Lachlan Markay. “Democracy Alliance Network Revealed.” The Washington Free Beacon. May 19, 2014. Accessed April 4, 2022. https://freebeacon.com/politics/exclusive-democracy-alliance-network-revealed/ ^
  8. Sandler Foundation 2014990, ProPublica. Accessed April 4, 2022. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/943147856/201531339349303388/IRS990ScheduleI ^
  9. Tides Foundation 2014 990, Tides Foundation. Accessed April 4, 2022. https://www.tides.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Tides-Foundation-2014-Federal-990-Pub-Disc-Copy.pdf ^
  10. Tides Foundation, 2015 990, Tides Foundation. Accessed April 4, 2022. https://www.tides.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Tides-Foundation-2015-Federal-990-Pub-Disc-Copy.pdf ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

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