Attorney and community advocate Marty Castro has his hands full these days as the newly appointed chair of the Illinois Human Rights Commission.
But Castro is more committed than ever to leveraging his legal, business and community know-how into helping underserved communities. That’s why he co-founded Nuestro Futuro, a philanthropic initiative of the Trust that encourages Latinos to address community needs.
“When we envisioned Nuestro Futuro, it was not so much to create additional buckets of dollars to make grants but to really teach Latinos in Chicago to be more philanthropic with their resources,” he explains. “We have a tremendous amount of economic influence, yet we have to focus it more, and we have to use those resources for the greater good.”
That greater good is early childhood education, the focus of Nuestro Futuro’s grants for the next three years. “If we give resources to organizations that give our kids early childhood education access, those children will excel beyond just this one particular year of education but really for the rest of their lives.”
Meanwhile, Castro is working with Latino professionals from South Chicago to set up a donor advised fund making grants within their neighborhood. South Chicago holds a special place in his heart because it’s where he learned about philanthropy firsthand from his father, a social worker and community organizer.
“I always saw my father being able to leverage resources and put together programs on a shoestring to have maximum impact,” Castro explains. “I was always proud that in a community with few economic resources, folks would always rally together to help each other.” Now he and his wife, Amalia Rioja, are keeping the family tradition of philanthropy alive through charitable projects like Nuestro Futuro.
“[My grandfather] came over from Mexico with nothing, had 17 kids to feed and clothe. But he always had room at his table for someone who was hungry,” he says. “That’s how my father was raised. That’s the example that I got and the example we are passing on to our sons. It’s just something that we do.”