The Nissan Foundation has given $76,000 to the Urban League and two other South-Central organizations in its first awards to community groups. The foundation was established after last year's riots with a $5-million pledge from the Nissan Motor Corp.
The Urban League received a $25,000 grant to support its Entrepreneurial Center, which helps develop minority-owned businesses.
The other recipients are the Youth Job Awareness Project, an employment opportunities group that received $30,000, and Esperanza Community Housing Corp. Esperanza received a minivan for the group's club-food cooperative and after-school programs.
"It represents making transportation available to children," said Marcos Cajin, a coordinator with Esperanza. "We're going to use it to take children to the library and to take residents to social services."
Reynaldo Gallegos, a Nissan employee and a member of the advisory panel, said Esperanza represents a front-line organization in the community. Gallegos, who made several visits to Esperanza, said he was impressed by its commitment.
"What makes this award different is that it comes from the community and the people who are receiving the award are from the community," said Steve Spurgeon, a Nissan spokesman.