Karla Arredondo-Payan

Growing up, my family never talked about money or class.

In my culture, Latino culture, we don't like to talk about finances or ask for money. We almost never talked about supporting organizations or fundraisers.

But I did make one ask as a childhood organizer. My dad has been a part of labor campaigns and has done organizing. When I was little there was this fundraising dinner he had to speak at and I had to translate for him because he did not speak English. That's the only time I've asked for money that I can remember growing up.

My dad speaking at the fundraising dinner was his first time asking for money. I think that was different for him because he wasn't asking for money for himself - he was asking to support the movement for janitors. That's what I've always been taught by him: he does things for a larger cause.

My donation to Headwaters was the first meaningful gift I ever made to an organization.

When I started learning about Headwaters through the Giving Project and seeing where the funds would go, I saw that the Headwaters’ giving model is really aligned with the work I do as a community organizer, with my personal values and mission, and with my beliefs.

Even after completing the Giving Project program I've continued to donate to Headwaters. I've tried to find other organizations to give to that have a similar model but haven’t found any. So, for now, I’m hooked on Headwaters.

With my work as an organizer, I've always said if I can contribute a little change or help one person at a time, that effort will snowball to help others.

I'm hoping my contribution to Headwaters - even if it's small or if in the long run I'm able to contribute more - will continue snowballing and help other organizers and organizations continue the work. It's hard for a lot of groups to get the funding they need. If I can help in some way, even if it's a little way, I might as well. If helping means asking people I know to become donors, I'm willing to do it for Headwaters so that the funding goes back out to the community.

Photo by Nance Musinguzi

Giving to Headwaters made me realize that I can't be a superwoman or superman. I can't fix all the problems, but with just a small donation I can help another organization do meaningful work that aligns with my values - whether it's renters’ rights, working with the LGBTQ community, working with youth.

Before participating in the Giving Project I didn't think I could make a large impact just by myself. Now I know that with the work I've done helping support organizations like Headwaters, I am making a change. I sometimes can't see it, or it's still hard for me to see the change, but I feel it.

Photo by Nance Musinguzi

Headwaters sees what organizations are doing, what they want to accomplish, and supports them.

Headwaters distributes dollars to BIPOC leaders to do base building and organizing work. It’s really meaningful work. Headwaters is not pushing their agenda on the groups they fund to promote a certain message or campaign.

That's why I continue to support Headwaters - because I like their model of grantmaking. They say to grantees, “We're funding the work you're doing because it's meaningful, it's supporting Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color, and we trust you to know what’s best for your community.”


We extend our thanks and appreciation to Jesse Zager, the Headwaters volunteer that conducted the initial interview.