Culturx (pronounced Cultura), a local nonprofit focused on animating the Latin community, was founded with the goal to build community around shared heritage while creating opportunities for non-Latinos to engage in, and learn about, Latin culture. The x within the organization’s name itself speaks to the culture they’re building, one that’s inclusive and aims to highlight diverse voices from within the Latin community that haven’t historically been front and centre.
“There was this desire to create a space where we felt we can access our community, our culture, our heritage, even just having a space where people would relate to you in the same way,” said co-founder Maria Daniella Quinones (Daniella) of the driving force behind Culturx.
Co-founders David Ayala and Daniella didn’t let the pandemic stop them from launching their organization, finding creative ways to engage and celebrate their community through online platforms. Without the ability to gather physically, Culturx’s website became a hub for London’s Latin community to access knowledge, information and resources of shared interest.
Culturx continually responds to the needs and desires of their community as they change, especially in the wake of COVID-19. When the co-founders heard from Latin restaurant owners about pandemic-induced revenue loss, Culturx launched a local flavour map highlighting eateries throughout London providing a much-needed publicity boost.
As the organization evolves, they rely on four central pillars to guide their initiatives: supporting community, celebrating community, creating community, and creating spaces for community connection.
With in-person connection back on the table, Culturx now publicizes and hosts events for London’s Latin community, and friends, including Spanish speaking circles and celebrations marking cultural holidays throughout the year. They’ve also launched Proyecto Ayuda (Project Help), which aims “create opportunities all year round for the Latino community to give back to the Forest City,” and launched an online store that supports small family-owned businesses across Latin America and Canada.
While Culturx has shown great resilience and adaptability during the challenges of COVID-19, and has even taken the step to incorporate as a nonprofit, it hasn’t been without a series of systemic challenges. Access to funding, resources, and space are often difficult for nonprofit founders to find, challenges which are often amplified for folks from equity-deserving communities.
“It’s really hard for [ethnically diverse] communities to learn about [funding and support opportunities] because they're not plugged in the same way that Canadian-born people might be,” explained Daniella. “So that's a huge challenge, finding resources like space and funding. There are huge challenges for our communities, to be able to actually pursue the endeavors that we have.”
As a former Programming Assistant for Pillar Nonproft Network and a member of Pillar’s Diversity and Inclusion Community of Practice, Daniella had often considered how being part of the Innovation Works community could benefit Culturx. When she learned about the ability to access complimentary space at Innovation Works’ TD Zone, generously sponsored by TD Bank Financial Group, she saw the opportunity to convene and build Culturx’s community while building mutually beneficial connections with local organizations and entrepreneurs.
In the coming months, Daniella plans to use Innovation Works to host cultural and professional development workshops for Culturx community members. She envisions cultural workshops such as stamp making and printing with a local artist, as well as a series that allows entrepreneurs to gain professional knowledge.
“More than anything, we just really want to be able to bring people into the space, not just our organization and our volunteers, but really have the community feel like this is a place where they can...rent a room and are able to have a community moment,” said Daniella. “Because that's what our purpose is, is to create those community moments, being able to access this space allows us to actually have the space to do those things.”
Culturx invites all Londoners to get involved with their organization through their upcoming events, visiting local restaurants on their flavour map, supporting their online store, and finding ways to engage with the local Latin community during Latin Heritage month. To learn more about opportunities to support or collaborate with Culturx visit their website.