La Casa de Amistad Celebrates Successful Conclusion of Leighton Award Campaign

“When you win this award, people notice.”

Juan Constantino, Executive Director of La Casa de Amistad, had so much to celebrate when his organization was named winner of the 2021 Leighton Award for Non-Profit Excellence.

“It was like a stamp of approval for our work,” says Constantino. “It’s the single highest recognition for local non-profits and positioned us to think long-term with an organizational focus on sustainability.”

La Casa’s work serving immigrant communities across the region has only grown in the past several years, and the support that comes from the Leighton Award came at just the right time. Constantino estimates that La Casa has more than tripled the number of people it interacts with, fielding more than 30,000 phone calls and 18,000 in-person visits a year.

Faced with that much need, it’s tempting for an organization to focus on getting through days or weeks at a time. But according to Constantino, since winning the Leighton Award, La Casa has enjoyed a renewed focus on long-term sustainability. The organization just celebrated 50 years of service and is thinking all the way through the next 50.

The boost to La Casa’s endowment with the Community Foundation will only help with that long-term thinking. At the end of 2023, La Casa raised their part of the $150,000 matching goal, and their endowment will be increased by $300,000.

“This was the first nudge toward the work we intend to do with our endowment,” says Constantino.

Judd and Mary Lou Leighton endowed the award in 1999 to recognize and reward the area nonprofit that best demonstrates superior leadership, management, and programming. Constantino calls it the Hall of Fame for non-profits. Besides the accolade and the obvious cash award, Constantino has uncovered further value from being a Leighton Award winner.

“It’s at the top of all of our other grant applications,” he says.

In September 2023, La Casa de Amistad received a $1,000,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. and in March 2024 they received $2,000,000 from Yield Giving, the largest gifts in the organization’s long history. Constantino is quick to draw a straight line from the Leighton Award to the Lilly grant.

“The Leighton Award creates a moment to shift the organization’s attention toward long term sustainability,” says Constantino. “When you win this award, people notice.”

Published: April 9, 2024
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