Esperanza Fund Established to Support, Strengthen Nevada’s Immigrant Communities

    Note: this is a press release copy from September 1, 2020

    12 Community-Based Organizations Receive Grants to Assist Immigrant Families; Initial Funding Provided by the Open Society Foundations

    LAS VEGAS, NEV. — Duncan Lee, a prominent Nevadan and first-generation immigrant, in partnership with the Governor’s Office for New Americans, announces today the recent establishment of the Esperanza Fund to support Nevada’s immigrant communities and strengthen nonprofits working with these communities.  The Esperanza Fund was established with  a $750,000 gift from The Open Society Foundations, the world’s largest private funder of independent groups founded by George Soros working for justice, democratic governance and human rights, nearly a quarter of a million dollars has already been granted to community organizations in the few short weeks since the Esperanza Fund’s inception.

    “The Esperanza Fund is a testament to those who have spearheaded this initiative: first- and second-generation immigrants to the State of Nevada who exemplify the potential immigrants bring to this country, and who have worked together to address critical funding gaps during this incredibly challenging time,” said Patrick Gaspard, president, the Open Society Foundations. “This is leadership. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed who our essential workers are, many of whom are immigrants, and many of whom are undocumented. They have been recklessly left out of federal support. And while the Esperanza Fund will not come close to meeting the need, we applaud this vision, and we urge other funders to join us in supporting this fund.”

    Lee, who also chairs Nevada Community Foundation, a nonprofit foundation that matches donors with strategic charitable giving opportunities is serving as the Esperanza Fund’s fiscal agent, is joined on the Esperanza Fund board by other high-profile Nevadans who are mostly first-generation immigrants. In addition to Lee, the Esperanza Fund board includes Francisco Aguilar, Nevada Assemblyman Alexander Assefa (District 42), Erika Castro, Vadim Fridman, Vida Lin, and Francisco Morales.

    “We are grateful to the Open Society Foundations for its vision and generosity in helping us to support individuals and families who are an integral part of our community fabric, but due to their immigrant status, are not eligible for federal aid” said Lee. “While the initial grants to Nevada’s immigrant families are helpful, we know the need continues. We invite other philanthropic individuals, companies, and foundations to contribute to the Esperanza Fund so we can continue to provide assistance to the many immigrant families who call Nevada home. Particularly as the effects of the pandemic continue and the residential eviction moratorium will eventually end, the need will only continue to grow.” 

    On Aug. 12, the board of directors of the Esperanza Fund approved an initial rapid response grant to the community-based organizations, followed by the approval on Aug. 19 of a second grant. With the grants, the community-based organizations are now equipped to provide financial assistance (up to $300 each) to immigrant individuals and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and who do not qualify for state or federal aid. The funds are intended to help with essential and basic needs such as rent, food, utilities and prescriptions.  Additional grants are expected to be made soon. 

    Recipient organizations include:

    • Asian Community Development Council
    • Arriba Las Vegas Worker Center
    • CSN Foundation
    • Dream Big Nevada
    • Ethiopian Christian Fellowship Church
    • Immigrant Home Foundation
    • Make the Road NV
    • Mi Familia Vota
    • Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada
    • REACH Las Vegas
    • UNLV Diversity Initiatives

    These organizations were chosen because they are well entrenched in their respective communities and know well the individuals and families most in need. The Esperanza Fund is working closely with the Governor’s Office for New Americans (ONA), created through Senate Bill 538, one of Governor Sisolak’s priority during the 2019 legislative session. ONA promotes opportunities for immigrants, refugees, and aspiring Americans to thrive in Nevada

    Gov. Steve Sisolak, along with Nevada’s First Lady, Kathy Sisolak, attended the Esperanza Fund’s first virtual board meeting, sharing their gratitude for the board’s work to support Nevada’s immigrant communities and reiterating the urgent need.

    “The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected our immigrant and refugee community, especially with some immigrants barred from receiving federal relief and being ineligible for state assistance due to their status. With support from Governor Sisolak and First Lady Kathy Sisolak, the Office for New Americans is proud to work with the Esperanza Fund board to ensure we do everything we can to help our fellow Nevadans who have been left out,” said Charina de Asis, Director for the Governor’s Office for New Americans. “Every Nevadan deserves support during this crisis, and it is the goal of the Esperanza Fund to provide some relief to as many families as possible. These are our essential workers; our neighbors; our community members.”

    For information about the Esperanza Fund, contact Seth Wongsavit at Nevada Community Foundation at

    About the Esperanza Fund

    The Esperanza Fund was established in August 2020 in partnership with the Governor’s Office for New Americans and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to support Nevada’s immigrant communities and strengthen nonprofits working with immigrant communities. The Fund was seeded with a grant from the Open Society Foundations. The Esperanza Fund is guided by a board of directors headed by Duncan Lee and comprised of other prominent Nevadans, most of whom are first-generation immigrants.

    About the Governor’s Office for New Americans

    The Governor’s Office for New Americans (ONA) was created during the 2019 Nevada Legislative Session to promote and foster opportunities for immigrant, refugees, and aspiring Americans to thrive in Nevada. The Office’s ongoing commitment is to welcome and integrate new and aspiring immigrants so they can fully participate in the state, civic and economic life. To learn more visit

    About Open Society Foundations

    The Open Society Foundations, founded by George Soros, are the world’s largest private funder of independent groups working for justice, democratic governance, and human rights. For information, visit

    About Nevada Community Foundation

    Nevada Community Foundation (NCF) was incorporated in 1989 with a $1 million initial gift. The organization’s mission is to steward donors’ charitable giving, now and for generations to come, and to provide leadership, vision and impactful community investment. In the last ten years, NCF has grown from $15 million in asset size to over $150 million. NCF currently serves more than 150 donors, with funds ranging from a few thousand dollars to tens of millions. Since the organization’s inception, NCF donors have given more than $100 million to causes they care about in Nevada and beyond. In March 2020, NCF was tapped to serve as the fiscal agent for the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, which was established by the Nevada COVID-19 Response, Relief, and Recovery Task Force, a public-private partnership overseen by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s office and the Nevada Health Response Center. For more information about NCF and the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, please visit or call 702.892.2326.