SECF Staff Highlight: Carlos Peralta
SECF has a long history of bringing on a summer intern from Emory University’s Ethics and Servant Leadership program – a history interrupted last year by the COVID pandemic.
This summer, however, the program resumed with Carlos Peralta, a recent Emory graduate who has supported the SECF staff throughout the summer. While there have been no in-person programs to attend, Carlos has worked closely with SECF’s membership team on recruitment and retention efforts, along with research projects. He’s also been able to interact with the entire SECF team by attending virtual staff meetings throughout his internship.
Carlos said his experience with SECF has brought him much closer to the world of philanthropy than he would have expected a few years ago.
“Growing up, philanthropy seemed like an end goal, an aspiration, something unattainable, something reserved for the wealthy,” he said. “I have always wanted to contribute back to my community, as I have been fortunate to have people and organizations that have helped me in my journey so far. I find the feeling of helping others very rewarding. Whether directly or indirectly, I believed I could find this opportunity at SECF.”
As part of his internship, Carlos has had the opportunity to meet virtually with SECF members, including staff at the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation and the Community Foundation of South Georgia – he said learning about the inner workings of community foundations was one of the most surprising things about his time at SECF.
“One of the most exciting and interesting things that I learned is the various types of gifts that community foundations can accept,” Carlos said. “Community foundations often get offered pretty bizarre gifts such as lands, copyrights, arts, patent payments, and other assets!”
Along with learning about some of the quirks of the field, Carlos said he’s also gained an appreciation for the hard work of community foundations in some of the region’s more rural areas.
“Unlike large urban areas like Atlanta, most nonprofits in the Southeast are not as well known or established,” he said. “Community foundations have to look for the right organizations where the funds would have the most impact.”
Like many people fresh out of college, Carlos, who studied economics and Italian, hasn’t yet made up his mind on what he’ll do now that he’s out of school. Still, he feels very fortunate as a first-generation college graduate from a family of immigrants.
“I began working when I was 10 years old. While plenty of kids my age were on vacation somewhere, my summers ranged from planting and picking vegetables in fields, working under hazardous conditions in the construction industry, and working as a housekeeper staff in a hotel,” he said. “I am actually grateful for my upbringing as it has shown me the things that really matter, such as family.”