Together, We are Greater: Reflections from Yvette Meléndez

On May 18, the Latino Endowment Fund and the Hartford Foundation hosted a community conversation on democracy, civic engagement and the role of the free press featuring Alberto Ibargüen, president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. More than 300 community members of diverse backgrounds and interests attended and the evening showcased why an informed and inclusive community is necessary for a thriving democracy.

For the past 15 years, the Latino Endowment Fund at the Hartford Foundation has focused on advancing the social, economic, educational and leadership development of the Latino community in our region. Every year, Latino Endowment Fund members attend educational programs that examine issues affecting the Latino community and recommend grants from the fund to address those issues.

Members of the Latino Endowment Fund at the Foundation recognized that our country is on the edge of unprecedented change. It recognized that citizens were becoming more civically active in their communities, finding their voices and using them to affect change. LEF and the Hartford Foundation saw the need to bring the community together for conversation and invited Alberto Ibargüen to lead the discussion.

Throughout his keynote, Ibargüen, who has deep roots in Greater Hartford, including working as a lawyer, as an award-winning media executive, including here at the Hartford Courant, reminded the audience of the importance of hope and that everyone has a role to play.

As part of his keynote, Mr. Ibargüen announced to a stunned crowd that the Knight Foundation has awarded a $50,000 matching grant to the Latino Endowment Fund, with his hope that the grant will “…allow the Latino Endowment Fund to enhance its work to serve the Latino community and inspire others to expand their personal philanthropy by becoming donors through this fund.” 

I was a charter member of LEF and served as chair of the inaugural steering committee. Through the Latino Endowment, I learned about the power of philanthropy and community foundations and was able to become personally engaged through philanthropy in addressing the many needs of the Latino community. I was able to enlist others in building the fund. Today, we have an incredible opportunity through the generosity of the Knight Foundation to amplify our efforts.

At the Hartford Foundation, we are committed to supporting meaningful and inclusive civic engagement in the Greater Hartford area. Though collaboration and collective impact, we strive to build thriving, well-informed, inclusive and equitable communities in our region by fostering philanthropy, civic engagement, and building opportunities for all.   

The Knight Foundation grant will be a dollar-for-dollar, matching contribution for any donation to the Latino Endowment Fund, including new and renewing memberships. Gifts of any size are appreciated and help increase the Fund’s annual grantmaking. If you are interested in becoming a member of the Fund, or donating to the Fund, please visit

We are grateful for the Knight Foundation's generosity; however, the work is just beginning. Join us and become part of something bigger and help make lasting change in Greater Hartford’s Latino community. We cannot do this alone. Together, we are greater.