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Donating to the Hispanic Community—Leaders in Growing the Good

October 20, 2021 | Giving and sponsorships

Across the U.S., the Hispanic community has played an important role in building the country and contributing to its cultural diversity. But the community has also faced comprehensive systemic barriers for generations. Hispanic Americans are among the hardest hit by economic downturns, and are often asked to shoulder some of our society’s heaviest burdens.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been the most recent example of this burden. Members of the Hispanic community have been more likely than the rest of the United States to contract Covid and die from it—in great part because they are disproportionately employed in those essential frontline jobs that carry elevated risk.

The community has shown tremendous resilience, however. To help support that resilience and foster a more inclusive society, aligned with our purpose, BMO works in partnership with Hispanic organizations that target grassroots needs and initiatives. The diversity of these organizations reflects the diversity of the Hispanic community today and the challenges it faces.

A Clear Focus on Economic Empowerment

Latinos Progresando (LP) is one of our most significant community-based partner organizations, and it stood out during the pandemic for its robust response to economic hardship, which included promoting local businesses, facilitating connections to emergency grant opportunities, and more. Thanks in part to its efforts, not a single business in LP’s service area was lost to Covid. Our support of a $430,000 capital grant is directed to the building of a new LP community center that will help revitalize the area’s commercial corridor, and that will deliver such vital services as legal consulting for immigration, domestic violence services, leadership development, and cultural and wellness programming.    

The pandemic’s effect on employment has made our longstanding commitment to job creation and skills development in the Hispanic community more critical than ever. One way we do so is through our work with Centro Hispano in Dane County, Wisconsin. Centro Hispano provides bilingual programs in skills development, notably for careers in healthcare and financial services. Its projects include the Latina Saving Initiative, which helps Latino women develop financial literacy and build up their savings through matching deposits in newly opened savings accounts after six months, and the Caminos Finance Program, a 10-week training course for people seeking careers in the financial services sector. Our donation not only enhances career prospects for Latino candidates, it also dovetails with the expansion of BMORE—a workforce-development program co-created by BMO and community-based organizations to remove barriers to employment in banking and finance.  

BMO also works closely with Instituto del Progreso Latino (IDPL). IDPL is an organization dedicated to empowering Latino immigrants and their families through education, training, and employment, and BMO’s funding fosters job entry into the healthcare, manufacturing, and retail sectors. IDPL’s Carreras En Salud Career Pathway is especially impactful in addressing the shortage of bilingual healthcare professionals in Illinois, as it provides training for entry-level positions all the way up to Associates degrees in nursing.

Supporting professional development is the foundation of our relationship with Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee (HPGM). With over 2,200 members, HPGM is a leader in career development for Hispanics in Wisconsin, and a hub that connects professionals, students, and the community. Our giving supports the organization’s student programs, which focus on building talent through scholarships, internships, mentoring, and professional development; and its professional development programs, which aim to increase diversity on non-profit boards and provide leadership development through networking and educational events.

Supporting the Next Generation

BMO also donates to organizations that support Hispanic youth, in recognition of the critical role young people play in advancing the future of the Latino community. The first is Arrupe College, at Loyola University. The College provides an Associates degree that leaves graduates with little or no debt, thereby lifting a major burden from the shoulders of young people entering the labor market. Many of Arrupe’s students are from the Latino community, and of those a high proportion are the first in their families to pursue higher education.

Our partnership with Casa Central, the largest Latino social services agency in the American Midwest, advances its family-centered mission with a gift that promotes bilingual/bicultural early-learning and school-age programs to over 2,500 low-income families. By supporting equity in social-emotional development, health, and nutrition, our support targets the systemic problems that stand in the way of equality for all.

Chicanos Por La Causa is another organization dedicated to students that we are proud to support. Founded in 1969 to confront discrimination against Mexican-American students in Phoenix, CPLC now defends the rights of people of all backgrounds, but maintains its close connection with the Latino community. BMO sponsors the CPLC’s Esperanza Latino Teacher Virtual Awards, the only awards program that highlights the work of outstanding Latino educators in Arizona.

Our corporate giving is not the only source of Purpose-driven BMO support for organizations focused on the Hispanic community. BMO Latino Alliance, our Enterprise Resource Group, has been active for years, harnessing grassroots, employee-driven support. Employees in BMO Latino Alliance have made numerous donations to the Hispanic community over the years, including ongoing support for Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago. Cristo Rey was founded to serve families who otherwise would not be able to send their children to a private school, and for over a decade BMO Latino Alliance has contributed to the school’s scholarship fund. We are proud of our support for the strong and resilient organizations leading the way to building a more inclusive society for Hispanic youth and economic vibrancy for the community. Their goals are ours, tied closely to our Purpose. By nurturing strong families, communities, and businesses, we are—together with our partners— growing the good in business and life.

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