NALAC and Ford Foundation Launch “Reclaiming the Border Narrative”

Shared Spaces by Ana Maria Alvarez produced by Border Arts Corridor. Photo Credit: Ammi Robles.

NALAC to award 27 grants to artists and organizations, reshaping narratives through authentic  storytelling by impacted US – Mexico border communities

SAN ANTONIO, TX (April 8, 2021) – In partnership with the Ford Foundation, the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures announces the award of 27 grants to artists, cultural workers and organizations whose work will change narratives and amplify stories in collaboration with their respective communities across the US – Mexico border region.  

In total, the NALAC Border Narrative Change Grantees will receive $1.42M for work taking place over two years. There are 8 grantees in California, 4 grantees in Arizona, 2 grantees in New Mexico, 9 grantees in Texas, and 3 grantees in Mexico. Learn more about each grantee and their project on the NALAC website.

In fall 2020, NALAC hosted a series of virtual cafecitos to inform the grantmaking process for these awards, resulting in a nomination process where participants and other arts and culture leaders along the border region were invited to nominate artists, cultural workers and organizations leading narrative change efforts. 

These awards are part of a larger initiative where NALAC will partner with the Ford Foundation, Borealis Philanthropy, the Center for Cultural Power, and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists to launch Reclaiming the Border Narrative. Southwest Folklife Alliance will document the learning from this initiative and create an accessible digital archive. The Ford Foundation will provide more than $4.5 million in funding over the next three years to the partners. 

Reclaiming the Border Narrative is an effort to penetrate and shape the national attention about migration and the border by supporting authentic storytelling by impacted communities on the cultures and socio-political dynamics that comprise the region. 

“We work to uplift the most marginalized voices within our communities because we know that art and culture is our most powerful conduit for transformative change,” said María López De León, president and CEO of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures. “Using their artistic and cultural practice strategically to advance justice, artists and culture-makers along the southern border will create works that reflect the dignity, resilience, and beauty inherent in border communities and our histories.” 

The stories of border communities including the stories of US citizens, immigrants, refugees, indigenous peoples, and asylum seekers are an integral part of our nation’s history and present. 

“Damaging narratives about border communities have for too long dominated the national attitude towards immigrants. We are proud to support these communities to reclaim their truth, speak their stories, and craft new anthems for America that ring with the dignity, demands, and dreams of border communities, said Maria Torres-Springer, vice president of U.S. Programs for the Ford Foundation.  

Forceful narratives across administrations have demonized border communities and stoked fear of immigrants, fueling xenophobic policies including a multi-billion dollar border wall and family separation. Through it all, the authentic life stories, voices, and narratives of impacted border communities have been flattened, and the complexities of their cultures, contributions, and experiences have been erased.  

“It is an honor to stand with the Ford Foundation and other partners supporting arts and culture-makers throughout the border region in cultivating collaboration across creative disciplines and borders,” said María López De Leon. 

The initiative aims for the stories to reflect the diversity and full spectrum of experiences at the border — including those of LGBTQ+, Afro-Latinx, women, and community members with disabilities, who are so often overlooked in existing narratives about the southern border.  

Read the Ford Foundation’s announcement of Reclaiming the Border Narrative here.  


NALAC Border Narrative Change Grantees 

New Americans Museum & Immigrant Learning Center (San Diego, CA) 

Casa Familiar (San Diego, CA) 

Samuel Valdez | CARPA San Diego (San Diego, CA) 

Evan Apodaca (San Diego, CA) 

Espacio Migrante (San Ysidro, CA) 

April J. Mayes (Claremont, CA) 

Raul Pizarro (Los Angeles, CA) 

La Pocha Nostra (San Francisco, CA) 

ALIENTO (Gilbert, AZ) 

Borderlands Theater (Tucson, AZ) 

Naomi Ortiz (Tucson, AZ) 

Border Arts Corridor (Douglas, AZ) 

Centro de Atención al Migrante Exodus – CAME (Agua Prieta, Sonora) 

Amalia Mondragón (Anthony, NM) 

La Semilla Food Center (Anthony, NM) 

NI EN MORE (Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua) 

ODA Otros Dreams en Acción with Luisa Martínez (Cuahtemoc, Mexico City) 

Rubí Orozco Santos (El Paso, TX) 

La Mujer Obrera (El Paso, TX) 

Rio Grande International Study Center (RGISC) (Laredo, TX) 

Sueños Sin Fronteras de Tejas (San Antonio, TX) 

Workers Defense Project (Austin, TX) 

Pansy Pachanga (Edinburg, TX) 

Trucha RGV (McAllen, TX) 

Nansi Guevara (Brownsville, TX) 

Xandra Treviño (Brownsville, TX)  


About NALAC 

In May 2021, NALAC will celebrate its 32nd anniversary. The National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) is the nation’s largest funding and advocacy organization devoted to the support and promotion of Latinx arts in the United States and Puerto Rico. Founded in 1989, the nonprofit facilitates intergenerational dialogues among disciplines, languages, and traditional and contemporary expressions. NALAC has awarded over 893 grants to the field totaling an investment of $5.1 million. Over 500 Latinx artists and arts administrators have participated in its intensive leadership training programs. 


About the Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 80 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.