Stronger Together: Immigrants, Philanthropy, and the American Dream

#GCIR2016 Logo
Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - 8:00am to Thursday, May 5, 2016 - 1:30pm PDT
Westin Austin Downtown
about | Agenda | Planning Committee | Supporters


Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR) hosted our 2016 nation convening in Austin, Texas, May 3-5.

The theme—Stronger Together: Immigrants, Philanthropy, and the American Dream—reflected a desire to elevate the role and contributions of newcomers in strengthening the social, economic, and civic fabric of our communities and society.

Through the event, we sought to foster shared learning, encourage peer dialogue, and highlight promising practices to help funders to respond to the needs of immigrant and refugee children, youth, and families, while advancing diverse grantmaking priorities ranging from health to education to economic opportunity. 

Home to the second-largest immigrant population in the United States, Texas provided a compelling setting to explore a variety of issues that are also in play for other regions:

  • recent demographic shifts;
  • immigrant civic participation and the rising Latino electorate;
  • growing numbers of English language learners; and
  • immigrant contributions as workers, taxpayers, and consumers.

As a border state with a long history of transnational migration, Texas offered a unique backdrop to consider the meaning of race, identity, and citizenship in the 21st century. 


Funders had the opportunity to choose between multiple tracks based on their interests and level of expertise; explore the latest research on immigration’s impacts, whether economic, educational, or demographic; and discuss innovative and effective responses to changes in their communities.

As in previous years, GCIR’s convening offered a mix of plenary sessions, issue-based conversations, learning tours, and skills- and knowledge- building workshops.

Planned programming also included:

  • a plenary-level arts and culture event;
  • a special program for new and potential GCIR members;
  • a gathering for the Delivering on the Dream collaborative members; and
  • facilitated discussion “teams.”

All programming emphasized peer-based learning and relationship building, and the agenda also included unscheduled periods, such as receptions and meals not paired with plenary sessions, to allow for networking and coordination.

Themes and Issues

Amid federal inaction on immigration reform, state and local policymakers have been moving forward with solutions that speak to on-the-ground needs and realities facing first- and second-generation immigrants, who now constitute one-quarter of the total U.S. population. Across the nation, many states and localities have put in place policies to attract, welcome, and integrate new Americans, while others have considered initiatives that may impede immigrant integration.

At the national level, the tenor of the 2016 presidential debates has influenced public discourse around immigration, and role of Latino voters and the rising immigrant electorate have received greater attention. These complex dynamics have profound implications for the future of the United States—and for philanthropy. As such, they will provide rich context for GCIR’s 2016 National Convening.

The 2016 National Convening also reflected the priorities in GCIR’s forthcoming 2016-2018 strategic plan, which focuses on:

  • state and local policies and trends,
  • economic justice and opportunity,  
  • civic integration, and
  • impacts on children, youth, and young adults.

These strategic priority areas include a wide range of issues of interest to our members and other philanthropic stakeholders, including but not limited to: language acquisition, education, health and other basic needs programs, workforce development, and asset building, among others.

A number of cross-cutting considerations were addressed throughout the conference with an aim to:

  • Appeal to a range of grantmaking approaches and funders of various experience levels;
  • Reflect the diversity of immigrant and refugee communities and populations;
  • Infuse a race, class, and gender analysis—as well as the perspective of youth;
  • Delve into the implications of current immigration policies; and
  • Explore the role of partnerships with a range of other allies, including but not limited to, civil rights groups, state and local governments, faith communities, business leaders, and organized labor.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

7:30 am - 5:00 pm


8:15 - 11:30 am

Pre-Conference Summit: Delivering on the Dream / Emma Lazarus Fund II 

8:00 am - 3:00 pm 

Site Visits 
(pre-registration is required and lunch will be provided)

Hutto Visitation Program (8:00 am - 3:00 pm) - FULL, waitlist available

Workers Defense Project (12 - 3 pm) - FULL, waitlist available

Casa Marianella (12 - 3 pm) - FULL, waitlist available

3:00 - 4:00 pm


3:30 - 4:30 pm

Option 1: Off-Site Briefing on Integration Report
(pre-registration requested)

Option 2: Guided Tour of the Tejano Monument 

4:30 - 5:30 pm

Concurrent Wine and Cheese Receptions for Members and Newcomers

6:00 - 8:00 pm

Welcome event at Malverde (walking distance)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

7:30 - 8:15 am

Registration and Breakfast Buffet

8:15 - 8:40 am

Welcome and Convening Overview

8:40-9:00 am

Home Team Meet Up #1

9:00 - 10:00 am


10:00 - 10:15 am

Transition break

10:15 - 11:30 am    

Concurrent Workshops

11:30 am - 1:00 pm

Option 1: Networking Lunch / Regional Meetings (except Midwest)

Option 2: American Bar Association Networking Lunch

1:00 - 2:15 pm


2:15 - 2:45 pm

Home Team Meet Up #2

2:45 - 3:00 pm

Transition break

3:00 -  4:15 pm  

Concurrent Workshops

4:15 - 4:30 pm

Transition break

4:30 - 5:30 pm

Live storytelling event with The Moth

5:30 -  7:00 pm

Free time

7:00 -  9:30 pm

Dinner and Dancing at the Parkside (walking distance)

Thursday, May 5, 2016

8:00 - 9:00 am

Option 1: Networking Breakfast Buffet / Midwest Regional Meeting

Option 2: Technology Discussion Breakfast

9:00 - 10:15 am


10:15 - 10:35 am

Home Team Meet Up #3

10:35-10:45 am

Transition break

10:45 am - 12:00 pm

Concurrent Workshops

12:00 - 12:10 pm

Transition break

12:10-12:30 pm

Home Team Meet Up #4

12:30 - 1:30 pm

Closing Keynote Address, Lunch, and Final Remarks

1:30 pm

Convening Concludes

2:00 - 7:00 pm

Optional Site Visit: Hutto Visitation Program - FULL, waitlist available

National Planning Committee

NPC Co-Chairs

Betty Balli Torres, Executive Director, Texas Access to Justice Foundation

Mayra-Peters-Quintero, Senior Program Officer, Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Justice, Ford Foundation

Host Region Funders and Philanthropic Partners

Amanda Cloud, Executive Director, Simmons Foundation

Eusebio Diaz, Vice President, Baptist Health Foundation of San Antonio

Lucille DiDomenico, Executive Director, Philanthropy Southwest

Betsy Healy, Grants Director, Harold Simmons Foundation

Members at Large

Efrain Escobedo, Vice President of Civic Engagement, Multisector Collaboration, and Public Policy, California Community Foundation

Adey Fisseha, U.S. Program Officer, Unbound Philanthropy

Carlos Martinez, Executive Director, Latino Community Foundation of Colorado

Kathy Palumbo, Director of Programs, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Adrienne Pon, Executive Director, Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs, City and County of San Francisco

Catherine Self, President and CEO, Baptist Healing Trust



Find More By

Program type: 

Thank You

 A special thanks to GCIR members and funders for their support in making this program possible.