Latino Leadership | Special Funds & Initiatives |

The Progreso Latino Fund harnesses the philanthropic potential of the Latino community and its friends to create a powerful force for positive change in Greater New Haven. 


Naranjito Health Clinic

2018 Naranjito Matching Gift Challenge to secure renewable solar energy for the health clinic in Naranjito Puerto Rico: DONATE now through Dec. 31, 2018 and PLF will match gifts up to $15,000.

Celebrating Latino Leaders series: The Progreso Latino fund is proud to produce this series of up-close and personal interviews with Latino Leaders serving Greater New Haven and Connecticut. Click on the image above to read the inspiring stories. Sign Up to begin receiving this series in your inbox each month.


Read Celebrating Latino Leaders interviews here

The Progreso Latino Fund builds leadership within the Greater New Haven Latino Community and brings people togther to have a postitive impact on the most important issues facing Latinos today. The fund hosts educational and policy forums and regularly brings nationally recognized speakers and leaders to New Haven. 

Our History

The Progreso Latino Fund (PLF) has been building capacity and knowledge since 2003 when Frances and John Padilla asked a few of their friends to be founding donors. They and others have built a permanent endowment — for grant making, policy forums, and leadership-building activities — of nearly $400,000 dollars. Money raised for the Fund has been used to sponsor educational forums and community events — a primary strategy and platform for bringing people together, engaging Latinos and non-Latinos about issues, and providing a vehicle for conversations about how the issues impact Latinos.

The Advisory Committee of the Progreso Latino Fund is looking for Latinos and others to join them to develop Latino leadership in Greater New Haven and to build an equitable community. Engaging more Latinos in local philanthropy and encouraging giving to PLF will accelerate Latino influence in the region’s civic life.

The Need and Opportunity 

Latinos are the youngest and fastest growing population in Greater New Haven. Therefore, when Latinos thrive, the Greater New Haven region thrives.  Learn more about the Emerging Influence & Growing Opportunity of Latinos in Greater New Haven.

The 2018 Naranjito Matching Gift Challenge

Now thru Dec. 31 2018

We’re on a mission to help the residents of Naranjito Puerto Rico and surrounding towns by purchasing renewable, reliable solar energy for their emergency health care clinic.

Over 4,000 patients a month rely on this community health clinic and your generosity will help to ensure that power to the facility remains durable in the strongest of storms.

Since April, the Puerto Rico Community Foundation has teamed up with funders across the country, to equip healthcare centers on the island with solar-electric kits built to resist nature’s forces. So far, 13 are fully complete and 10 are nearly ready to begin installation.

Greater New Haven has adopted a center, Centro de Salud Integral en Naranjito, to fully install a durable solar-electric system for this community. Known as the City of Colors, Naranjito is located in the central mountainous area of the island and hosts a population of over 30,000 people. 

Please make your gift today and the Progreso Latino Fund will match up to $15,000 in gifts through December 31st.


Donate Now

Advisory Committee

  • Fernando Muniz Chair
  • Tara Davila

  • Yadira Ijeh
  • Jorge Jimenez
  • John Padilla
  • Raquel Santiago-Martinez
  • Kyisha Velazquez
  • Alicia Caraballo, Community Foundation Board Liaison

Want to join? Contact Caprice Taylor Mendez to learn more.

Educational Forums and Events


Progreso Latino Fund Forum - Beyond the Storm: Puerto Rico One Year After Maria/ Trás la Tormenta: Puerto Rico un Año Después de María

This PLF Forum held on November 15, 2018 featured Dr. Nelson Colón, President & CEO, Puerto Rico Community Foundation and Hon. Julia M. Nazario Fuentes, Mayor, Loíza, Puerto Rico who traveled to New Haven to have a conversation about  Puerto Rico’s future in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The speakers shared how the nonprofit and philanthropic communities mobilized residents across the island and took lead roles in building sustainable energy projects, housing reconstruction, economic development, and a major fundraising campaign on the island to equip 100 hospitals with electricity-producing micro-grids. PLF issued the 2018 Narajito Matching Gift Challenge to purchase renewable solar engery for the health care clinic in Naranjito Puerto Rico; gifts made through December 31, 2018 will be matched  by PLF up to $15,000. 

Read More Here

Progreso Latino Fund Gala Celebrando 15 Años de Progreso. The Progreso Latino Fund marked its quinceañera on September 15, 2018 welcoming more than 175 guests to celebrate and kick-off Hispanic Heritage Month. 

Celebrating 15 years of bringing people together around issues of importance to Latinos.  Photo: Cliké Photography.

Read more here


2017 Progreso Latino Fund Forum featuring actor, writer and comediam Elizardi Castro.  PLF held its 2017 Forum on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at the New Haven Lawn Club. The event featured a unique performance by Elizardi Castro, comedian and former criminal defense attorney. Elizardi combined his Puerto Rican heritage with American culture to create a Spanglish one-man show,"Made in Puerto Rico."          

Elizardi shared his life journey, in which he tackles the human story of growing up in two different worlds with one foot in a home culture that was different from the dominant narrative around him.

The event raised $8,000 for disaster relief efforts for Mexico and Puerto Rico.

View photos from the event by clicking on the image below.


Latino Leadership: The Latino/a Political Identity 
The 15th Progreso Latino Fund Forum explored the concept of the Latino/a Political Identity with special guest speaker, Dr. Jessica L. Lavariega Monforti, Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science, Pace University. Learn more about this event here.


Thank you for joining us on Sept. 15, 2015, to Celebrate Latino Leaders! Click on the image below to view the photo gallery from PLF's 2015 Forum at which Latino leadership was discussed in its many forms.




Convening for a Latino Century. On March 27, 2014, Maria Hinojosa, the producer of NPR's Latino USA and the PBS series "America By The Numbers" brought the audience to a standing ovation with her inspirational call for Latinos to "own their own American narrative." At stake, she said, was nothing less than preserving the American Dream. The event was covered by the New Haven Independent.


Read by 8 Before It’s Too Late! A co-sponsored forum exploring the importance of 3rd Grade reading levels in the Latino community. Featured speaker: Henrietta Munoz, PhD,  Eastside Promise Neighborhood Project Director of the United Way of San Antonio & Bexar County, Texas .


An Evening with Connecticut's Candidates for Governor: Tom Foley & Dan Malloy. A forum to discuss the economic issues facing Latinos and the general public, including the state budget deficit, job creation, education and health care.

Noche Bohemia: A Step Back In Time. A joyous event of Latin music, dancing and great food, in honor of Latino businessman and philanthropist John Soto.


Will the Stimulus Provide Economic Prosperity for All? A forum to discuss the implications of the unprecedented $787 billion Stimulus Package on the Latino community.


Latinos Left Behind? Closing the Educational Achievement Gap in Connecticut. A forum focused on the issue of Latino children being disproportionately left behind in the educational system.


The Legacy of 21. An event to raise awareness about baseball legend and humanitarian Roberto Clemente's contributions to civic life & the campaign to retire his number. It entailed a screening of the movie about Clemente followed by a discussion with Julio Pabon (CEO, Latino Sports Ventures, Inc. & National Coordinator of the Retire 21 Campaign), Byron Hunter (VP Media Productions, Latino Sports Ventures, Inc.) and Gil Martinez (President, Hispanic Professional Network).


Puerto Ricans, Connecticut and Immigration: An Issue for Whom? A forum to explore how the intensifying immigration debate and accompanying anti-Latino fervor affected the Puerto Rican community in Connecticut. Panelists included Cesar A. Perales (President and General Counsel, Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund) and Philip Berns, Esq. (Philip Berns, LLC & Member, Stamford Board of Representatives City Council).

Hispanic Connecticut:  A Conversation with the Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates: Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. (New Haven) and Mayor Dannel Malloy (Stamford). A forum to identify the visions of the Democratic candidates for Governor for Connecticut and provide a platform to make Latino interests and concerns known.


Latinos in the Media. A panel discussion forum to provide a vision for building the Latino capacity to influence the news in all its aspects - editorial, business and reporting. It raised awareness about the issue of Latinos lagging behind in numbers at news and editorial desks across the media business spectrum.

Raising a Puerto Rican / Latino Child in These Trying Times. A panel discussion forum to provide a vision for how parents and the larger community can create a positive social and cultural environment for Latino youth.

The Latino Impact on Voting and Civic Life in Connecticut: New Perspectives on the Engagement of a Growing and Changing Community. A panel discussion forum on what works to make a difference in electoral politics, what motivates people to become involved, and what it will take for Connecticut's Latino community to have impact in 2006.


Reflections on the Character and Impact of Latino Leadership Inaugural forum for Progreso Latino Fund. A panel discussion forum moderated by Diane Alverio with a panel comprising Judge Carmen Lopez, Edna Negron Rosario (Southern New England Regional Director for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico's Federal Affairs Administrative Office), Juan Figueroa (the former President of the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut), and John Soto (President and CEO, Spacecraft Manufacturing).  The discussion was designed to explore the personal definition of leadership, the challenges before the current leadership as to the future of the Latino community and the opportunities to develop young Latinos to be the leaders of tomorrow. 

How can we help?

Caprice Taylor Mendez

Strategic Program Manager 203-777-7089 Email Caprice

How can we help?

Sharon Cappetta

Director of Development 203-777- 7071 Email Sharon


70 Audubon Street
New Haven, CT 06510



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