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Supporting, Celebrating the Latino Community Through Philanthropy

// February 11, 2020

Adrianna Abarca Uses Her Donor-Advised Fund to Spotlight Latino Community


There is a movement happening in the Sun Valley neighborhood of Denver that will transform the cultural arts scene regionally and internationally. Situated between Empower Field at Mile High and the Denver Housing Authority redevelopment is a series of colorful buildings that house the Latino Cultural Arts Center of Colorado (LCAC). Plans are underway for it to become an integrated campus that weaves performance and visual arts, and features an arts academy, a library, two museums, a gift shop, coffee shop, blackbox theater, and more.

Latino Cultural Arts Center brings together art, history, culture

All of this will soon be a reality because of Adrianna Abarca, the founder of the nonprofit LCAC, who dreams of creating an institution that celebrates  Latino art, history, and culture. Adrianna saw and felt an unmet need in Denver and Colorado’s Latino community for a permanent space where multiple generations could gather to collectively learn from the diversity of Latino creative expression.

“As social beings, we need to identify with a larger group and feel as though we belong. Having the physical space to gather is important. The Latino community has been in survival mode for decades, but it’s not enough anymore. We deserve to thrive,” said Adrianna.

Starting the A&A Abarca Fund with her daughter

As the visionary and seed-funder of the LCAC, Adrianna uses donor-advised funds (DAFs) to house her philanthropic dollars, so that her money can grow over time and ultimately, she can grant more to like-minded organizations. Adrianna holds DAFs at several Colorado community foundations and opened two funds at WFCO to expand her philanthropic network and invest in the 100 percent gender-lens portfolio.

In addition to the Latino Cultural Arts Center, the A&A Abarca Fund, one of her two donor-advised funds held at WFCO, supports other Latino-led organizations and arts programming. Recently, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance received a grant. “They are very supportive of Afro-Latino dance and making cross-cultural connections,” she said.

“The Latino community has been in survival mode for decades, but it’s not enough anymore. We deserve to thrive,” said Adrianna.

Adrianna and her family care deeply about the arts and philanthropy. The A&A Abarca Fund is a joint fund for Adrianna and her 17-year-old daughter, Arisela. Just as she first learned of philanthropy from her parents, Adrianna wants to pass along her knowledge to her daughter.

Adrianna recalls that as the owners of Ready Foods, her parents “created good jobs for people with good benefits, including bonuses.” When the family business profited, they would give back to the community that made them successful. Over the years, as Ready Foods grew, Adrianna and Marco, her brother, gave new voice to the family’s philanthropic approach by expanding their financial support to encompass their time and talent, which includes serving on several boards and offering technical support to non-profit organizations. “We are still in the learning stages of the impact that philanthropy can have, and how it can empower our communities across generations,” said Adrianna.

Ensuring contributions of Colorado’s Latino community are noticed

In addition to philanthropy, Adrianna inherited her passion for the arts from her father who slowly built an impressive art collection that she has continued. The Abarca Family Collection will be permanently housed in the Museo de Herencia Mexicana and will include folk and fine art, photography, and textiles.

“If folk traditions and artistic expressions aren’t supported, they tend to die off,” she said. Through the LCAC, Adrianna is ensuring they won’t. She is determined that the contributions from Colorado’s Latino community no longer go unnoticed.

“The LCAC is not about me, it’s about putting our community in the spotlight for its many contributions, whether it be in dance, food, music, visual arts, and/or scholarship. Stay tuned—we are just getting started.”

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