Los Cenzontles Receives One-Million-Dollar Gift, Creates Endowment to Support Programming

News from the Field

Los Cenzontles Cultural Arts Academy is thrilled to announce that it has received a one-million-dollar gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott in support of its community cultural work. The gift is part of Scott and her team’s effort to aid non-profits teams working in areas that have historically been neglected. Los Cenzontles is among the 286 “high-impact organizations in categories and communities that have been historically underfunded and overlooked.”

In announcing the entire gift of $2,739,000,000, Scott wrote that she and her team worked toward “identifying and evaluating equity-oriented non-profit teams working in areas that have been neglected.” In particular, she noted, “Arts and cultural institutions can strengthen communities by transforming spaces, fostering empathy, reflecting community identity, advancing economic mobility, improving academic outcomes, lowering crime rates, and improving mental health, so we evaluated smaller arts organizations creating these benefits with artists and audiences from culturally rich regions and identity groups that donors often overlook.”

Los Cenzontles (The Mockingbirds) is a Latino-led, artist-driven, non-profit organization dedicated to amplifying Mexican American cultural arts and community. Formed as an Artist in Residence by Eugene Rodriguez in 1989, and incorporated as a non-profit in 1994, the program has trained thousands of neighborhood youth in traditional Mexican arts, performed nationally and internationally, and created a robust catalog of recordings, videos and documentary films about tradition, identity, and cross-cultural connection.

Los Cenzontles Cultural Arts Academy will use the entire one-million-dollar gift to create an invested endowment whose earnings will support its community cultural programming. It is their hope that others will also contribute to the endowment and other Los Cenzontles projects so that the organization can continue to thrive.

Los Cenzontles Board President Marco Gonzales says “This remarkable gift will help stabilize our organization and hopefully attract additional investment that supports our mission and our community. Los Cenzontles began with a vision by our Founder and Executive Director, Eugene Rodriquez, with no budget but community support.  We are thankful for the dedicated staff and numerous collaborators who have helped us earn this extraordinary award.  We are very proud that our legacy and impact is being recognized at this level, and grateful for the opportunity to continue to strengthen into the future.”

Led by a staff trained at the community organization, Los Cenzontles has made a deep impact locally, nationally and internationally in the fields of youth development, arts education, and folk arts. They have innovated a pedagogy of traditional arts for urban youth; revived discarded traditions; promoted cross-cultural collaborations; produced numerous recordings, videos and films that have been widely recognized, awarded and broadcast, including their co-production Linda and the Mockingbirds, featuring Los Cenzontles with Linda Ronstadt and Jackson Browne, now available digitally on HBO Max. Los Cenzontles, the performing group composed of Academy alumni has collaborated with many traditional and renowned artists that include David Hidalgo, Los Lobos, Taj Mahal, Ry Cooder, The Chieftains, Preservation Hall, Flaco Jimenez and many others.

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