Corazón De Oro: How The Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation Is Giving Back

LGMS Master Series @ FIU
MIAMI, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 12: Bruno Del Granado, Lena Burke, Silvana Montenegro, Manu Manzo, Raquel “Rocky” Egusquiza, Vicky Van, William Jaramillo FIU Latin Jazz Ensemble and guests at the Latin GRAMMY Master Series on September 12, 2023 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for the Latin Recording Academy )

Nicky Jam mentoring aspiring young artists in Miami; preserving Argentine musician Astor Piazzola’s legacy; Emilio Estefan Jr. and Nelson Albareda teaching financial education to students; a study on the inextricable role women have played in the rise of the Tango. These are just a few of the many ways The Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation is living up to its mission to “further international awareness and appreciation of the significant contributions of Latin music and its makers to the world’s culture through college scholarships, grants and educational programs” with a purview that includes 24 countries across the U.S., Europe and Ibero-America.

While there are several ways to quantify the success of the Foundation, which to date has donated $9.3 million to students, schools, music programs, musicologists and researchers from around the globe, one clear way to qualitatively understand the org’s impact is to ask its director.

“The most exciting thing always is the impact we have on the lives of these young Latin music creators,” said Raquel “Rocky” Egusquiza, Executive Director, Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation, when asked what the most gratifying part of her job was in her first year running the organization. “Meeting them, hearing their stories, seeing their commitment to Latin culture and music and to know that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to pursue a career in music if it were not for the scholarships they’re receiving through the work that we do through the foundation.” Egusquiza then distills her experience down to the visceral joy and emotion she felt at the Foundation events that help young people: “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried.”

Some of those tears of joy were likely shed at the Latin Grammy Foundation’s Miami event in August awarding its Nicky Jam Scholarship to Dominican pianist Leomar Cordero, which will allow the young musician to attend the Berklee College of Music (valued at $200,000), as well as the awarding of 43 additional scholarships. Also in June, the Foundation brought in musician El Fantasma to Sidney Lanier High School in San Antonio, Texas, for its Grammy In The Schools program in which the Ford Motor Company donated $40,000 to enhance educational experiences and provide musical instruments.

With The Latin Grammy Awards this year in Seville, Spain, the Foundation will present a number of initiatives leading up to the ceremony on Nov. 16.

“There are so many talented artists that come together for Latin Grammy Week,” Egusquiza said. “We bring some of our scholarship recipients to be part of that experience and that journey. We are going to document their experience in Sevilla. So at all of the different activities and programs the Latin Recording Academy will be hosting, our scholarship recipients will participate. They’ll have opportunities to perhaps give out awards or meet with the talent and Latin Grammy winning artists one-on-one. And then being in Sevilla, they’re going to have the opportunity thanks to La Junta De Andalucia to take in the culture and learn how music has been an inspiration in Sevilla and in Andalusia.

“In addition, we’re going to have one of our Latin Grammy in the Schools events and we’re honored that we’re going to have Laura Pausini join us to donate musical instruments at a conservatory in Sevilla and then be part of that experience where the kids are going to play for her and honor her. Then we’re going to be joining Berklee and the Foundation to record one of Paco de Lucía’s songs with our scholarship recipients and with students from Alala, which is a nonprofit foundation in Sevilla that works with many students that are underserved and that have, through the power of music, come together to find a better and brighter future for themselves.”

It’s important to point out that all of the Foundation’s programming is to help low and moderate income students and the underserved. Says Egusquiza: “I’m really proud to know that we are giving opportunities to kids that otherwise wouldn’t have it.”