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Raúl Bustillos’ Commitment to Community Leadership and Access

Thursday, December 10, 2020
SCG is excited to announce that Raúl Bustillos (Senior Vice President of Community Relations, Bank of America), Shawn Kravich (Executive Director, Snap Foundation), and Jennifer Price-Letscher (Vice President, Grantmaking & Initiatives, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation) will join SCG's Board of Directors in January 2021. We spoke to our new Board members about their professional values, the role of equity and trust in their grantmaking, and what's giving them hope for the future. 

When he was only three years old, Raúl Bustillos’s parents came to the United States to work as immigrant farmworkers. From a young age, Raúl spent his weekends and summers working alongside his family on California’s agricultural land. While his parents did not have the privilege to pursue an education or understand what success could mean in the US, they knew they wanted better for their children. At every turn, they encouraged Raúl to apply a strong work ethic to his studies, pursue his love of reading, and explore a different career path. With his parents and his teachers’ support, Raúl became the first in his family to attend college. 

During his undergraduate education at the University of California Irvine, Raúl began working with a physical science professor to launch multiple talent pipeline programs designed to engage Latinx students and encourage them to pursue higher education. These programs recruited K-12 students and brought them onto the college campus to learn about the physical sciences and lay the foundation for their college careers. Raúl realized that he wanted to help create opportunities and access for underrepresented communities, but to do that, he would need to learn how to address complex systemic issues. Raúl decided to focus his graduate school education on tackling societal challenges on a structural level. Drawing inspiration from the foundations and corporations that had supported the physical science programs from his undergraduate experience, Raúl wrote his graduate thesis on Corporate Social Responsibility, an emerging concept at the time. Through his research, he explored the intersection of policy, communities, and grantmaking, which served as a catalyst for Raúl’s future in the corporate sector. 

Raúl began his career in the social impact sector at the Los Angeles Times, where for ten years he managed the grantmaking activities for both the Los Angeles Times Fund and Family Fund. Afterward, Raúl joined Bank of America, where he has overseen their philanthropic giving in the Los Angeles Market and the Inland Empire for over thirteen years as Senior Vice President of Community Relations. Throughout his career, Raúl has remained committed to creating opportunities for historically marginalized communities. When it comes to his philanthropic work, he understands that the best way to create leadership opportunities for communities is through partnership. Raúl believes that community leaders are best suited to assess their communities’ challenges and propose solutions to address these issues. “Funders often don’t engage communities from the onset because they fail to see their leadership and expertise,” Raul stated. “Instead, I look at our role as multi-year partnerships built on honesty, trust, and respect.” 

Given the unfathomable crises of this year, Raúl is proud of the bold steps Bank of America has taken to support racial equity and economic development. Earlier this year, Bank of America announced a four-year $1 billion initiative focused on creating opportunities for people and communities of color in the areas of health and healthcare, jobs and reskilling, support to small businesses, and affordable housing. Bank of America selected these issue areas because of their long histories of systemic inequity and because they are critical levers for progress to be enacted and sustained. This $1 billion commitment will be split between philanthropic and business opportunities, with most funds delivered locally. Moving forward, Raúl would like to see corporate philanthropy continue to increase their support of movements and racial equity efforts and permanently embrace the practices that funders have implemented in response to the pandemic. “For twenty years, I’ve seen trends come and go, but I am hopeful that the turn toward racial justice is here to stay,” Raúl reflected. “I encourage us all to continue cultivating a diverse and inclusive culture, having courageous conversations with our stakeholders, and focusing on partnerships that drive change as we collectively work to do more, quickly.” 

Today, after eight years of active involvement in the SCG network, Raúl is ready to join its Board of Directors. In his time, he has seen our organization expand the scale of its philanthropic work, embrace bold new ideas, and attract a diverse number of new members to the network. “I am proud to join SCG’s board in this pivotal moment as the organization adapts to the changing landscape in philanthropy while also helping our sector take a stronger role in advocating for our communities. I am eager to bring my experience and life-long commitment to our communities to help our sector heal and address the root causes of our societal challenges.” 


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