About the Foundation

Our Mission

Guided by the values of community, family, social change, empathy, integrity, diversity, and inclusion, we are dedicated to:


Enabling Latino youth and youth of color to achieve their education goals.

Arts + Culture

Promoting Latino arts and culture.


Investing in the leadership of Latinos and our nonprofit partners.


Using our leadership and leverage to promote social equity, inclusion, and diversity for Latinos and other people of color.

The foundation’s focus areas reflect the values of family, community, and social change that stem from family members’ love for each other and for their community.


Arts & Culture – The Castellano family members have a personal connection to arts and culture and value the role of the arts in promoting positive self-identity, resilience, and academic success.

Carmen plays piano and grew up in a home filled with music—classical, opera, Mexican – along with her sister who was an artist. Alcario played the trumpet in high school and was in a dance band for several years. The Castellano’s children were exposed to music early on and played a variety of musical instruments throughout their youth. Daughters, Maria and Carmela, were trained in Ballet Folklórico at a young age and taught dance classes well into adulthood. Maria also played piano and clarinet in high school and Carmela is currently a backup singer in her husband’s band, Q-VO. Their son, Armando, plays the French horn and tours internationally as a professional musician. In 2004, he founded Quinteto Latino, a non-profit performing arts group that promotes Latino classical music through performance and advocacy. Al and Carmen’s five grandchildren all play musical instruments—piano, clarinet, tenor saxophone, guitar and drums. The Castellanos are avid art collectors with over one hundred pieces of art work and sculptures lovingly displayed in their home. In 2012, San Jose City College recognized Carmen’s contributions to the arts by naming their new fine arts building after her.

Education – The Castellanos value education and the important role that parents play in supporting their children’s academic success. Al’s sole purpose in playing the lottery was to help his children pay off their student loans.

Carmen graduated from Moreland Notre Dame High School in Watsonville and later completed the Executive Secretary program at Heald Business College. She worked as an Executive Secretary at Cabrillo College and as an Administrative Secretary at San Jose City College until her retirement in 2001. Al graduated from San Benito High School in Hollister and served in the US Army where he was stationed at Fort Mason in San Francisco.

All of the Castellano children have graduate-level degrees. Maria has a bachelor’s degree is in Dance with a minor in Music and an MBA from San Jose State University; Carmela has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from UC Berkeley and graduated from Yale Law School; Armando graduated from San Jose City College and went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree from UCLA and a master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music, both in Orchestral Performance. He is former adjunct faculty member at San Jose City College and currently teaches arts and humanities classes in English and Spanish throughout schools in the Bay Area.

Leadership Development – The Castellanos have a long history of civic and community engagement, leading by example to inspire others to take on leadership and advocacy roles.

Carmen and Al have received numerous awards and recognition for their leadership and advocacy in promoting civic engagement, education, and philanthropy including the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley “La Familia” Award and the PACT Leadership in Action Award. Carmen is a founding member of the Latino Education Association (LEA) at San Jose City College and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC). Al is a current board member of Latinas Contra Cancer and a former board member of the American GI Forum and Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley. He was named Father of the Year by the American Diabetes Association in 2006.

Like their parents, the Castellano children are actively engaged in local, regional, and statewide leadership roles in the nonprofit sector. Maria currently serves on the board of San Jose Jazz and sjDANCEco and previously served on the boards of the Los Gatos Education Foundation and Los Lupeños de San Jose. Armando is a current board member of California Alliance for Arts Education and an alumnus of the Multicultural Arts Leadership Institute (MALI – Class IV). Carmela has a solid track record of executive leadership experience as current President and CEO of the California Primary Care Association (CPCA), a former Managing Attorney at Public Advocates law firm in San Francisco, and as founder and current board member of the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC).

15 Years + Counting

The foundation has achieved many milestones in the last 15 years and will undoubtedly achieve many more. Highlighted below are several of which we are proudest:

The Castellano Family “Gives Back”

After winning the California Lottery in 2001, Al and Carmen Castellano established the Castellano Fami...
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$1 Million in Grants Awarded

Carmen and Al’s community-focused approach to grant making results in more than 100 grants and $1 ...
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$2.5 Million Invested in the Community

Carmen and Al continue their close personal relationships with organizations in the community. By n...
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Transition to the Next Generation

Carmen and Al Castellano initiate the process to transition the leadership of the foundation to thei...
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First Grantee Convening

The foundation hosts its first-ever Grantee Convening in order to present its new strategic plan to ...
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Multiyear General Support Strategy

The foundation board initiates a new strategy to help grantees improve their organizational capacity...
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Grantee Convening 2013

Some 12 years ago, Alcario and Carmen Castellano experienced a windfall of money which today, lookin...
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Video Documentary Commissioned

As a tribute to its founder, the foundation commissions the making of a video documentary using phot...
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$5 Million Awarded

The foundation achieves a significant milestone – 700 grants totaling $5 million awarded to more t...
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Meet the Family

Carmen Castellano was born and raised in Watsonville, California. Both of her parents were small business owners. Her father owned a trucking business and her mother owned the Mexico Meat Market. Alcario Castellano was born in Artesia, New Mexico and moved to Hollister with his family when he was nine years old. She and Alcario were married in 1962 and moved to San Jose to raise a family.

The foundation’s focus areas reflect the values of family, community, and social change that stem from family members’ love for each other and for their community.

The Founders

The Trustees

The Staff


The Spring 2018 Grant Cycle is now open! LOIs are due by midnight on Monday, February 12.
If your LOI is approved, the full application will be due by midnight on Monday, March 5. Funding decisions will be made in April and awards will be disbursed by June.


If your grant period ends between December 31, 2017 and June 30, 2018, you are eligible to apply in this cycle.