June 13, 2024 – San Diego, CA – San Diego Foundation (SDF) announced today that it has launched El Camino Fund and seeded the initiative with a $2.5 million endowment to empower local Latino/a leaders and strengthen economic mobility and generational wealth-building projects led by Latino/a-serving nonprofit organizations in San Diego County.

“San Diego is a beautiful and diverse region, but not everyone has access to the same opportunity,” said Miguel Lopez, SDF Manager of Development. “Through the SDF El Camino Fund, we will advance the trajectory of our Latino/a neighbors, which will benefit all San Diegans and strengthen our local economy for generations.”

Latino/as represent 35% of San Diego County’s population. Yet, compared to non-Latino/a San Diegans, this community faces significant economic challenges due to systemic barriers, socio-economic disparities and unique community needs. By investing in entrepreneurship, workforce training, financial literacy and homeownership, areas determined through research on the challenges local Latinos/as face and through discussion with local Latino/a civic, nonprofit and business leaders, the SDF El Camino Fund paves a new pathway – a better “camino” – to help San Diego Latinos/as thrive.

El Camino is a charitable fund that raises money from Latinos/as and their allies to support the local Latino/a community, close equity gaps and provide opportunities to thrive, prosper and belong in the San Diego region.

El Camino Fund also provides an opportunity for those engaged with and passionate about San Diego’s Latino/a community to express their generosity and support through philanthropy. El Camino Fund is a unique opportunity to harness the great potential of our region’s philanthropy and, together, make a meaningful impact through targeted, aligned charitable giving. Aligning our collective giving in areas of mutual focus can more fully leverage impact and support for the Latino/a community.

The fund was launched at a celebration hosted June 12 at Puesto in downtown San Diego, where the inaugural grantees were announced, including:

  • Accessity – $100,000 to support its Microlending Program, providing Latino/a entrepreneurs in San Diego County with access to capital, one-on-one technical assistance, and educational resources to start and grow their businesses, fostering economic opportunity and generational financial mobility.
  • Hispanic Wealth Project – $100,000 to support three programs, including the NAHREP REACH Labs program, which supports Latino property technology entrepreneurs by connecting them with over 40,000 real estate practitioners; Wealth Workshops, which provide financial literacy and wealth-building strategies through culturally relevant curriculum; and the HWP Angel Community, which educates and supports Latino/as in building angel investor portfolios and increasing access to investment capital for Hispanic startups.
  • Escondido Education COMPACT – $100,000 to support Escondido Education COMPACT’s Workforce Readiness program that uses a culturally competent curriculum with trauma-informed, restorative practices to help Latino/a adults overcome barriers to employment.
  • Logan Heights Community Development Corp. – $82,500 to support the Emergent Entrepreneurship Program, which strengthens local businesses by offering training, networking, startup funding and ongoing marketing opportunities.
  • Sherman Heights Community Center – $82,500 to support Sherman Heights Community Center’s Cocina to empower culinary entrepreneurship through a free, 10-week small business incubator course for home cooks and working-class food entrepreneurs, offering hands-on culinary workshops, business support, and employment assistance in a bilingual and culturally relevant setting.
  • MANA de San Diego – $25,000 to provide general operating support for MANA’s Latino Upward Mobility Initiative (LUMI), a program that will support adults in reskilling and upskilling to attain higher-paying jobs.
  • Encuentros Leadership of North County – $10,000 to provide general operating support for Encuentros Leadership, which was established 20 years ago to address educational disparities among Latino male youth in San Diego, focusing on enhancing access to quality education and college readiness through culturally responsive programming.

In addition to being seeded with a $2.5 million endowment and $250,000 initial grant from San Diego Foundation, El Camino Fund is supported by San Diego Gas & Electric’s $100,000 donation, Wells Fargo’s $40,000 donation; and donations from Gary Acosta, San Diego resident and CEO and co-founder of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, of $10,000; and Cox Communications of $5,000. Grantmaking for the El Camino Fund was determined by an independent group of volunteers unrelated to the fund’s donors.

“The launch of the El Camino Fund is a significant step toward strengthening economic mobility and generational wealth-building for the people of San Diego County,” said Estela de Llanos, SDG&E vice president, land and environmental services and chief sustainability officer. “One of our core values at SDG&E is ‘Championing People’ and by investing in entrepreneurship, workforce training, financial literacy, and homeownership, we aim to create a better ‘camino’ for San Diego Latinos/as, benefiting our entire community and investing in the future of our region’s economic landscape.”

“Making a gift to San Diego Foundation’s El Camino Fund aligns with my core values,” Gary Acosta said. “The fund will strengthen the economic well-being of Latino San Diegans, who comprise a third of the city’s population.”

According to U.S. Census data, most San Diego Latino/as have individual incomes of $50,000 or less. When adjusting for cost of living, Latino/as in San Diego have lower median incomes than Latino/as in other Southern California counties. Additionally, the income gap between Latino/as and non-Latino/as in San Diego is substantial: Latino/a San Diegans make $27,000 less per year than White, non-Latino/a San Diegans.

For more information about the El Camino Fund, including how to donate, visit SDFoundation.org/ElCamino.

About San Diego Foundation

San Diego Foundation inspires enduring philanthropy and enables community solutions to improve the quality of life in our region. Our strategic priorities include advancing racial and social justice, fostering equity of opportunity, building resilient communities, and delivering world-class philanthropy to realize our vision of just, equitable and resilient communities. The Racial & Social Justice Initiative supports policies and programs that seek to eradicate systemic discrimination. For more than 49 years, SDF and its donors have granted $1.8 billion to support nonprofit organizations strengthening our community. Learn more at SDFoundation.org.


Lorena Nava Ruggero, lruggero@sdfoundation.org, 619-814-1365