Fostering Communities Across The Globe: The Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation Gives Back

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – APRIL 08: Lin-Manuel Miranda poses with students as The Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation®, in partnership with GRAMMY® -winning songwriter and producer Lin-Manuel Miranda and the Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, donate musical instruments valued at $40,000 to George Washington Educational Campus on April 08, 2022 in Washington Heights, New York. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

A common theme in Raquel “Rocky” Egusquiza’s career has been to help others. She’s frequently drawn to organizations that benefit their communities, and when the opportunity to join the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation presented itself, she jumped at the chance. Now, a little more than a month into her role, Egusquiza is getting to work continuing the foundation’s legacy of supporting underserved communities and students. 

So far, Egusquiza’s favorite part of working with the foundation has been meeting the program’s scholarship recipients. Students who have plenty of promise in the arts are provided with the opportunity to foster their talents and advance their education. 

“For me, [my favorite part] has to be meeting the scholarship recipients, hearing their stories and understanding the impact we’ve had in their journey,” Egusquiza tells Pollstar. “I met with one young lady who said to me, ‘I can’t wait until I become famous and I’m able to make a donation to the foundation and pay it forward.’ That’s really what it’s about. That’s where you know that the work you’re doing is making a difference, is making an impact. When they’re so passionate about not just the opportunity we’ve given them, but wanting to pay that forward and give it to others. That’s what motivates me. That’s my favorite part, is spending time with the scholarship recipients, hearing their stories, and knowing that we’re really giving them those opportunities that perhaps they otherwise wouldn’t have had.” 

Those who receive scholarships also serve as ambassadors for the program, joining Latin Grammy Week. The program also provides a network for the students who find opportunities to collaborate with one another to expand upon their artistic expressions. In addition to providing students with scholarships, the foundation donates instruments to selected schools, bringing in artists to speak to the students. Recently, New York City’s George Washington Educational Campus received a visit from Lin Manuel Miranda. 

“There’s so much need,” Egusquiza says. “And unfortunately, when you look at music programs, often, when there are budget cuts, arts and music tend to be some of the first that occurs. Yet, we know how important, how valuable art and music is to social learning and the development of kids in school. We work with our board, our scholarship committee, and our leadership team to try and make sure we’re looking at a number of different factors. Socio-economic need in the area, music programs that might have been cut that have been around for some time. We look at different geographic areas.”

So far, the program has been able to support schools in the United States, Puerto Rico, Panama and more. Egusquiza says schools don’t apply to be part of the program, but they will often reach out and share their stories. They’re hoping to continue expanding in the future with plans to visit Detroit next month. 

“When we’re looking at Hispanic populations, we’re not only looking at your top-tier Hispanic markets,” Egusquiza says. “We’re not only looking in Miami, California and New York. We’re looking at smaller Hispanic communities. People aren’t focusing Hispanic resources there, but there’s need there, too. And there’s a community there trying to preserve Latin music as well. We want to make sure we’re being supportive there also. We’re looking across geography, across need. Unfortunately, we wish we could be everywhere and we are hoping with the continued support we have that we will be able to grow the program.”

While the foundation only has seven individuals working full-time, their partnerships with their board, artists and Loud And Live (see page 30) allow for them to help numerous communities. “It’s a very collaborative process, where everyone across the industry is supporting the work we’re doing, and we’re very appreciative of that,” Egusquiza says. 

The foundation continues to thrive. Recently, Loud And Live donated $1 million to the foundation to continue providing scholarships and instrumental programs for underprivileged schools