How Funders Can Become Part of the Fabric of the Latino Community

By Michelle Threadgould When you think of insurance companies, the first thing that comes to mind might not be charitable giving and community involvement. Amica is trying to change that. The highly-awarded auto and life insurance company (and one of the generous companies that sponsored HIP’s annual conference and gala!) has shown a commitment to making a difference in the Latino community. Amica offers charitable grants and sponsors a variety of events. Their approach is to develop deep, long-term relationships with their grantees. As Ed Naya, the Marketing Officer at Amica puts it, “We care, we understand, and we want to be part of the fabric of the [Latino] community.” Every year, Amica sponsors the XicanIndie Film Fest that is put on by the Latino/Chicano cultural and performing arts center Su Teatro in Denver. Naya says, “It’s a three- to four-day event where Su Teatro features movies and shorts that have been produced and created by Latinos and Hispanics throughout the country.” The festival brings actors and talented Latino filmmakers like Benjamin Bratt, Jesse Borrego, and Esai Morales to Denver, and helps the local Latino community feel represented on the silver screen. Amica’s partnership with Su Teatro has been so successful that they’ve gone on to help sponsor other events as well, including the EVER WordFest. The festival is a weeklong collaboration with the SOURCE Theater Company that puts on readings and performances starring Latinos. They are also sponsoring the 19th Annual Chicano Music Festival and Auction put on by Su Teatro, which features live music, films about Latino music artists, and food by local, Latino-owned businesses. Amica is helping to keep the Latino arts scene vibrant in Denver. One of the many reasons that festivals like those sponsored by Amica are so important is that Latinos are currently extremely underrepresented in the arts, especially in film. When it comes to acting roles, according to NPR, as of 2014, “Just 4.9 percent of those parts were filled by Hispanic characters, though they are 16 percent of the U.S. population.” But the issue of underrepresentation doesn’t just transfer to on-screen, but behind the camera as well. The 2016 Hollywood Diversity Report shows that over the past few years, there has been a steady decline of people of color in writing, editing, and directing roles in the film industry. So, Amica is helping bridge the representation gap and giving Latinos an opportunity to celebrate their film, art, and culture. In addition to their support of the arts, Amica is also involved in helping fund Latino youth activities. For several years, they have been a sponsor of Copa Univision, a series of soccer tournaments for young Latinos throughout the country. Amica sponsors the tournaments in Houston, Dallas, and Phoenix, and Naya says that the events not only help build community for its young contestants, but for the family members and local soccer fans of the area. By building deep relationships with Latino nonprofit organizations, Amica is showing the Hispanic community that it cares and is committed to making a difference. Whether it’s in the arts or supporting nonprofit youth programs, Amica provides a positive blueprint for how funders can establish themselves as an essential part of the fabric of the Latino community.