STOCKTON, CA – Representatives from local organization met at El Concilio in downtown Stockton, on Wednesday, August 8th to discuss Latino challenges in the community and the possible creation of a Latino statewide agenda.
The first phase of the California Latino Agenda, a project of the San Francisco based organization, the Latino Community Foundation (LCF), kicked off in Stockton and will soon travel throughout the state.
According to the 2011 report of the American Human Development Project, Latinos in California make up more than 38% of the population. 32% of Latinos do not graduate from high school and only 14% have a Bachelors degree. More than 51% of all school children in the state are Latino and one-third are living in poverty. Latinos constitute about 21% of all registered voters – but only 34% are likely to vote. And the statistics continue…
Many local organizations such as Fathers and Families of San Joaquin, El Concilio, Charter House for Families, California Human Development and Visionary Home Builders, work daily to change the statistics and advocate for the needs of the Latino community, but they oftentimes work in isolation.
“We are here to see if there is an opportunity for us to work as a team, to connect all these isolated efforts throughout the state of California,” explained Masha Chernyak, Director of Programs and Policy of the Latino Community Foundation, “the issues are so big and so monumental that a single organization cannot make it on its own.”
“Whether you are working on housing or youth development; is all about building stronger communities,” added Chernyak.
The California Latino Agenda plans to bring key issues and collective solutions to the forefront, coordinate regional partnerships, create a unified voice and so increase funding for community-based Latino organizations.
“We can no longer accept statewide statistics that continuously rank our community as the lowest performing in education, income, and civic participation,” says LCF.
“This [American Human Development Project] report is not the only one that shares the reality of the Latino community in the Central Valley, we have communities where we [Latinos] are majority but we are the minority in terms of leadership,” said Rey León, Vice Chair of Region four of the California Chicano Latino Caucus.
“In our community, here in Stockton, we are looking at three major things: education, housing and jobs,” said Jose Nuño from Visionary Home Builders.
For Raquel Donoso, Executive Director of LCF, the challenges Latinos face in the Central Valley are the same challenges faced throughout the state.
“We are growing as a community, we can really make an impact if we work together,” said Maria Rosado, Regional coordinator for the California Human Development organization.
For Sammy Nuñez, Executive Director of Fathers and Families of San Joaquin in order to materialize long strong partnerships, “we need to connect the grassroots groups with the treetops, there has to be equity within the actual grassroots and the well established organizations.”