Together for justice

Vice President’s Message
Protecting and Empowering Immigrant Communities

Belen VargasOn May 1, tens of thousands of people marched in recognition of May Day and in support of immigrant and human rights. They lifted their voices during a time when fear and uncertainty has permeated many communities, as incidents of enforcement activities—including those at or near churches, courthouses, and schools—are being reported on a daily basis.

During this period, we are all being called upon to examine our values and take bold action to defend and advance these values. The Weingart Foundation has long stood in strong support of Los Angeles’ diverse immigrant and refugee communities. We believe in advancing fairness and opportunity so that everyone—regardless of immigration status—can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential.

I’m proud to share that by the end of this fiscal year, the Weingart Foundation will have made nearly $5 million in grants supporting immigrant rights and integration. This includes $2.75 million in immigration-related rapid response grants made over the last several months. Our grants support a wide range of activities and organizations with unrestricted funding, including key grassroots groups, legal service providers defending unaccompanied child refugees from Central America, faith-based nonprofits, and networks and coalitions across the region. These groups are working hard to inform communities of their rights, assist people to naturalize or become citizens, organize to build power, and advocate for strong policies impacting immigrants at the state and local levels.

As part of this commitment, the Weingart Foundation has also made a $1 million grant as a founding partner of the LA Justice Fund, a groundbreaking public/private partnership between the City of Los Angeles, LA County, and philanthropy. The Fund will provide coordinated legal representation to Angelenos at risk of deportation who cannot afford an attorney. Given the immediate need in the community, our priority is working with our partners to get these dollars out to legal service providers as quickly as possible.

Our rapid response grants and ongoing work related to immigration will focus on supporting communities’ efforts to move from fear to empowerment. Diversity, inclusion and equity are at the heart of what we stand for as a region, and immigrants—from Mexico and Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and elsewhere—are quite simply part of who we are as Southern Californians. We must work together to safeguard our communities and our values.

Belen Vargas signature
Belen Vargas
Vice President, Programs