Study Describes Growth of Community Foundations in Mexico
May 20, 2009 — A new, comprehensive study of 21 community foundations in Mexico reports that these organizations are strengthening the civic fabric and playing a pivotal role in growing a new type of philanthropy in Mexican communities.
According to 2007 financial information, the community foundations raised more than $30.8 million (U.S. dollars) in assets since their founding, principally from local, private sources. That figure places Mexico at the forefront of Latin America’s grassroots philanthropy. This is especially noteworthy, the study says, because many of the 21 community foundations are still quite new and have small staffs.
The study was funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Global Fund for Community Foundations and the Inter-American Foundation, and was conducted by a U.S.-Mexico research team — Teamworks, based in San Francisco, and Alternativas y Capacidades, based in Mexico City. The objective of the research was to establish a current overview of Mexican community foundations, describing their main characteristics and the support system for their development.
Community foundations are nonprofit organizations that work in defined geographic areas such as cities or states, seek to develop a culture of philanthropy and work to strengthen civil society. Mexico’s community foundations have developed in regions ranging from the Mexico-U.S. border cities of Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez on the north to Oaxaca in south-central Mexico.
The study found that the community foundations are making a difference in their communities, giving grants, providing training and creating local networks to address priority social issues. Through them, Mexico has become the Latin American pioneer in the use of philanthropy to foster citizen action, address poverty, teach youth about the benefits of community involvement, and provide economically viable options in rural, indigenous areas to keep families together.
“This study will raise awareness of community foundations and about how people of all classes, from the rich to the poor, can combine their resources—money, time, and talent—to search for long-term, enduring solutions to our needs,” said Karen Yarza, executive director of the Fundación Comunitaria de la Frontera Norte. (Community Foundation Frontera Norte).