“There is no greater reward than working from your heart, and making a difference in the world.”

In 1967 in San Francisco, just a few weeks after the Summer of Love, a young Mexican guitarist took the stage at the Fillmore Auditorium and played a blistering solo that announced the arrival of a prodigious musical talent.

Two years later — after he played a historic set at Woodstock — the world came to know the name Carlos Santana, his sensual and instantly recognizable guitar sound, and the legendary band that blended electric blues, psychedelic rock, Latin rhythms, and modern jazz, and that still bears his name.” - The Universal Tone: Bringing My Story to Light by Carlos Santana

Born in Jalisco, Mexico, Carlos Santana is known across the world as one of the greatest guitarists of all time, and as the winner of 10 Grammys and 3 Latin Grammys. His growth in popularity was especially evident through the 90’s, when his unique blues-sounding guitar riffs were sought after by many of the top artists across a variety of music genres. However, very few people know that Santana had to struggle quite a bit before achieving success as a musician. This struggle, and the struggles he witnessed of the people around him, always stayed close to his heart.

Known as an international rock star and performer, it would be easy for one to assume that Carlos Santana has lost his connection with his humble beginnings. However, Santana has always stayed very deeply grounded in his roots and his beliefs. The results of his efforts are clearly seen in his charity, The Milagro Foundation.

Milagro was started by Santana and his close-knit family in 1998 and has helped hundreds of children across the globe since its inception. Milagro, the Spanish word for ‘Miracle’, provides support for vulnerable children and adolescents around the world who do not have as many opportunities as those with more resources. The focus of the Milagro Foundation is to provide health care, art, , and education for children, through monetary grants. These grants are then distributed to non-profit organizations that have programs for at- risk youth who might not otherwise receive help. Between October 1998 and August 2014, the Milagro Foundation has supported low income, underserved and underrepresented children in 36 states and 35 countries by granting $5,881,213.00 to 355 agencies working with children and youth

While Santana remains deeply involved with Milagro, the everyday operations are overseen by a dedicated long-term team of two and granting is done two or three times/year by staff and a board of directors. What they all have in common is a passionate belief that children everywhere deserve to live a life with full access to proper healthcare and education as well as opportunities to develop into creative human beings. With funds generated by concert ticket donations, Santana licensed products and generous philanthropic partners and individual donors, Milagro supports children and youth in the San Francisco Bay area, across the United States and in countries around the world touched by the music of Santana.

The emphasis Milagro places on health also makes it a truly unique organization. Funding health agencies around the world from South Africa to Haiti to Malawi as well as organizations in the United States, the Milagro Foundation focuses on HIV prevention, malaria prevention, water resources, mental health issues, preventive education and cancer interventions.

Milagro also focuses on raising literacy rates amongst youth. Despite being considered as one of the most literate cities in the country, San Francisco still has an illiteracy rate of almost 18% in children over the age of sixteen. Milagro works with charities and organizations that want to improve these numbers, giving youth the basic skills that will help them complete their educational journeys.

Finally, Milagro works with organizations that focus on bringing the rich culture of art and music to youth. In many public schools, when funding is limited, some of the first programs that are cut are the art and music classes. Carlos Santana, and the entire Milagro Foundation team, find this to be completely unacceptable - a. And they aren’t alone in their sentiments. Paul Ostergard, Vice President of Citicorp, once said, “A broad education in the arts helps give children a better understanding of their world. We need students who are culturally literate as well as math and science literate.”

Through these priorities, the Milagro Foundation hopes to help more children from lower income families to further their education. By combining the three focuses of the Foundation, the board of directors believes that an increasing number of children, especially in the San Francisco area, will have more access to a vocational or college educations. By educating these children, Milagro hopes that the cycle of poverty can be broken, providing brighter futures for all who participate in the programs.

The Milagro Foundation is a project that is very close to Carlos Santana’s heart and is ~~a testament to the man behind the guitar. For those interested in learning more about Santana and his journey through fame, consider reading his new memoir, The Universal Tone: Bringing My Story to Light. In this saga, the reader will get an in- depth look into the heart and mind of Carlos Santana, as he breaks down his story in an always profound and,~~ sometimes humorous way. Most importantly, this book will allow readers to fully see and understand why organizations like The Milagro Foundation are so important and such a vital part of his life.

To purchase, click here .

By Brigitte Perreault

Comments (4)
No. 1-4

Great article! I was not aware about the low literacy rate among children in San Francisco.


Always a follower of his heart




I've always loved Santana's music. Great to see he's also doing work like this