Three alumni bonded by membership in the same fraternity decided they wanted to give back to the Cornell community in 2015. Nearly four years later, they successfully raised over $100,000 through alumni donations, creating Cornell’s first ever Latino-led and program house endowment for the Latino Living Center.
The endowment was born in 2015 at an annual barbeque for Lambda Upsilon Lambda — also known as La Unidad Latina — a Latino fraternity founded at Cornell in 1982. The founders of the endowment, Julio Casado ’08, Mario Rivera ’82 and Ricardo Arguello ’04, said they chose the LLC because of the program house’s Latino heritage.
The fund also received administrative support from the University, which provided a “blueprint” to help guide founders on the fundraising process, according to Casado. Over the next four years, alumni fundraised through emails, hosting events and Giving Day.
“There’s never, ever too small of a donation,” Arguello told The Sun. “I firmly believe that every little bit helps and knowing that the community came together to help bring this $100,000 was a sense of pride.”
When the fundraising efforts began, the founders said they had expected donations to come primarily from members of the Cornell Latino community. Instead, they found that individuals outside that community, including other minority groups, donated as well. In April, the endowment reached its $100,000 goal.
“It’s honestly great. It was a long way coming. I knew we were gonna get there but it’s still a daunting thing. All of us are people who didn’t come from means,” Casado said. “We were able to raise money and put it in something we care about. We’re all just incredibly proud and incredibly happy.”
The LLC on North Campus was founded in 1994, a year after over 100 Latino and African American students occupied Day Hall for four days, demanding improved conditions for Latinos at Cornell. One of those demands was the creation of the Latino Living Center. Since then, the LLC has been housing nearly 70 residents and members with weekly programs, annual retreats and celebrations every year.
The LLC, like all other residential halls, currently receives money through the housing fee paid by its residents. Additionally, each resident pays a program house fee of $65 per year to support the programming of the center.
“[The LLC] gave me an anchor, a home away from home. It was very familiar in that sense,” Casado, who lived in the LLC his sophomore year, told The Sun.
The endowment will be used entirely at the discretion of the residential hall director, according to Casado. In addition to funding programs and supplies, the endowment will also be used as an emergency fund for residents and members and provide scholarships, according to the press release.
Currently, the founders plan on continuing to fundraise and to support the LLC, whether through the endowment or setting their eyes on other goals. Casado, for example, believes that the LLC should be moved to a new, better-equipped space.