Thunderbirds Charities Awards Fuerza Local $80,000 Grant to Invest in Latino Entrepreneurs

Kendall Jones, Local First Arizona Foundation
[email protected], 602-956-0909 ext. 7

Thunderbirds Charities Awards $80,000 Grant to Invest in Latino Entrepreneurs
New investment will expand the award-winning Fuerza Local Business Accelerator Program in Greater Phoenix. 

Phoenix, AZ (July 29, 2019) - Thunderbirds Charities is investing $80,000 into Fuerza Local Business Accelerator program as part of a new grant. The new investment will boost outreach of the program to new Latino businesses across the Valley, helping to further Thunderbird Charities’ mission to improve the quality of life for Arizonans.

Fuerza Local Business Accelerator is a six-month program offered at no cost to underserved Latino micro-entrepreneurs in the Greater Phoenix area. The curriculum brings industry experts together to teach courses on business fundamentals, cash-flow projections, marketing, business planning and more - all taught entirely in Spanish. During the program, students solidify a credit score and upon graduation, each student is given the opportunity for a line of credit to grow their business.

“The Fuerza Local Business Accelerator program was created from a need to help underserved Latino business owners. We are proud of the hard working entrepreneurs that go through the program because they are adding significantly to our communities and our economy. The Thunderbirds Charities realizes the impact and potential and we’re thrilled to partner to continue bridging the gap for Latino entrepreneurs,” says Tanairi Ochoa-Martinez, Director of Fuerza Local Arizona

“Local First Arizona is doing tremendous work in our community assisting underserved Latino businesses,” said Chance Cozby, President of Thunderbirds Charities.  “At Thunderbirds Charities, we know the deep and long-lasting impact of that work for not only the business owners but for their families and we are happy to assist in achieving their goals.”

According to the 2018 annual report, 450 Fuerza Local Business Accelerator graduates have created 536 new jobs and generated $6.2+ million in new sales just in the last year alone. 

Additionally, the program allows entrepreneurs to grow a credit history by making weekly payments into an online money pool, which is a highly acculturated version of the way low-income families have saved money for centuries. In this newly digitized version, their payments are recorded and reported to Experian, the largest credit bureau in the country, helping to establish credit for the upstarts.

“Access to fair market capital, instead of predatory high interest loans, helps create strong, independent businesses for Arizona while alleviating the need to rely on payday lenders,” says Ochoa-Martinez.

The combination of business training and financial literacy, backed with newly developed credit scores, provides entry into several partnering credit unions providing lines of credit for graduates who complete the curriculum and make on-time payments into the money-pool for six months.

“We’re seeing cohort after cohort of entrepreneurs preparing themselves for success, and thanks to Thunderbirds Charities, we can continue building a strong, independent community of business owners,” says Ochoa-Martinez.


About Local First Arizona Foundation
Local First Arizona Foundation (LFAF) is an award-winning organization focused on community and economic development throughout Arizona in order to build self-sufficient, healthy and prosperous communities. LFAF is creating a movement that has proven results across a wide variety of measurables including youth retention, job creation, and economic opportunity. More information is available at

Thunderbirds Charities
Thunderbirds Charities is a non-profit organization formed in 1986 to distribute monies raised through the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament. The mission of Thunderbirds Charities is to assist children and families, help people in need and improve the quality of life in our communities. The organization’s giving is directed toward organizations based or with a significant presence in Arizona. The Thunderbirds were founded in 1937 with the mission of promoting the Valley of the Sun through sports. For more information on The Thunderbirds or the 2020 Waste Management Phoenix Open, visit For more information on Thunderbirds Charities, visit