Interviewing CEO and President Dr. Mark Pritchett of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation: Paving the Way for UnidosNow—From Achieving Good To Striving for “Incredible”

By Sandy Chase

Gulf Coast Community Foundation (GCCF) has indeed helped UnidosNow grow—from being good on its way to becoming incredible—the foundation’s mantra.

During the second year, Gulf Coast Community Foundation was one of the first local organizations to support UnidosNow and its first Executive Director Kelly Kirschner.  Instrumental in providing the guidance for formulating the strategic plan of the nonprofit, Gulf Coast helped the UnidosNow board define its vision, mission, and current focus.

According to Kelly Kirschner, UnidosNow co-founder and current board member, “It was very hard to fundraise for our core programs, like Future Leaders Academy, with institutional funders.  Gulf Coast Community Foundation was the first large area foundation that felt they had done their due diligence on us and could invest in our work.”

Kelly adds, “I’m proud to say that we have done everything we have said we would do not only for our friends with Gulf Coast Community Foundation, but all of our other funding partners, private donors, and volunteers—growing the trust and level of credibility in the organization in the region—something we are very jealous of maintaining.” 

According to Executive Director Luz Corcuera, “Dr. Pritchett continues to be a source of guidance, support, and mentorship—with his exceptional leadership in the region.  UnidosNow is grateful to count on foundation’s partnership and support.”

UnidosNow congratulates Gulf Coast Community Foundation, as it celebrates its 25th anniversary—confirming the foundation’s theme:  “We’re better together.”

As one of the first foundations that supported UnidosNow, why did your organization choose to assist the new nonprofit and its Executive Director Kelly Kirschner?

Gulf Coast Community Foundation was one of the first “angel” investors in UnidosNow.  We listened to the “pitch” from founding board member and Executive Director Kelly Kirshner.  He said that UnidosNow was needed to build a strong future for our diverse, vibrant Latino (now Latinx) community. We were intrigued because this niche had not been addressed in our region.  Gulf Coast always likes to address important issues like this quickly and decisively.

What did that support look like?

Gulf Coast Community Foundation provided three major types of support:  (1) monetary, through grants for staffing and programs; (2) operational, programmatic, and governance guidance to strengthen the organization; and (3) connection to donors and community leaders who could help sustain UnidosNow.

How is it different from current collaboration?

UnidosNow Executive Director Luz Corcuera and CEO and GCCF President Dr. Mark Pritchett.

Our current collaboration is stronger than ever.  UnidosNow has moved from a start-up to a stable organization.  As a result, Gulf Coast Community Foundation sponsors fundraising events to help broaden UnidosNow’s donor base; we support its programs through grants; and we train board members to lead UnidosNow into the future.

How does UnidosNow continue to contribute to our community?

UnidosNow continues to increase its value to the entire community in many ways.  Foremost, UnidosNow provides educational opportunities and support for Hispanic and Latinx children and families.  Second, it is developing future leaders to represent Latinx interests in an increasingly diverse world.  Finally, UnidosNow is building bridges between cultures that will make our region and our country stronger and prosperous.