Latinos and Immigrants in Midwestern Communities

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Statement of Issues and Justification

The integration of Latinos and immigrants is a long-term process that continues to be an increasingly important challenge for policymakers, academic scholars, community organizations, and practitioners. At the national level, the Latino population increased by 43% between 2000 and 2010 (Ennis, Rios-Vargas, & Albert 2011), while in the Midwest it increased by 49% during the same period (See Appendix A). Today there are nearly five million Latinos in the Midwest, comprising approximately 7% of the regional population (Humes, Jones, & Ramirez, 2011). 

As the Latino population continues to grow, its integration into the structural and cultural features of the larger communities of which they are part becomes more and more imperative. Integration, however, is occurring within structures of inequality that are reproducing patterns consistent with those of historical race/ethnic minorities. The resulting "integration" has contributed to increases in segregation, education achievement gaps, and racial division of labor patterns (Guzm├ín, Reyes, Palacios, & Carolan-Silva 2011). 

A core challenge is to better integrate Latinos and immigrants into our organizational and civic structures because they are becoming an increasingly important part of the social and economic fabric of the region. The challenge is double-edged in the sense that newcomers need to develop the capacity to function within existing institutions at the same time that organizations need to develop the capacity to effectively provide services to newcomers and to incorporate them into their operational processes.

Since its inception in 2009, NCERA 216 participants have created interstate research and outreach working groups in five thematic areas (Families and Family Involvement in Education, Entrepreneurs and Economic Development, Building Immigrant-Friendly Communities, Building Diverse Organizations, and Civic Engagement). Their work has been published in research newsletters, reports, refereed journals, and books. Several research projects are currently underway that will continue to yield results that will further advance related fields of research and provide the intellectual basis for effective practice. However, the work must continue because the integration of Latinos and immigrants is a long-term process and challenge.

 

Objectives

  1. Build upon existing and create new networks of faculty members and students at land grant and other colleges and universities, Extension/outreach educators, and community leaders and organizations focused on developing knowledge and promoting a more accurate understanding of the challenges and opportunities confronting the growing Latino and immigrant populations across communities and cities in the Midwest. This involves continuing to mobilize human resources within universities, building new models of research and outreach collaboration, strengthening the grant proposal development capacity of working groups focused on key dimensions of challenges and opportunities, generating policy resources, educational materials, and promoting partnerships and sustained communications among participants.
  2. Expand the research, teaching, Extension/outreach, and public engagement capacity of the region's land grant and other universities to promote the incorporation of the growing Latino populations and recent immigrants into Midwestern communities. This involves evaluating, strengthening, and taking to scale applied outreach programs focusing on Latinos and immigrants in the North Central Region, continuing to collaborate with the other Latino-focused interstate initiative, SERA 37 (the New Hispanic South), to share and implement effective outreach programs and applied research results, and promoting leadership programs across a range of stakeholders in universities and communities. 
  3. Advance the capacity of the region's land-grant university system to provide culturally competent, timely and high quality educational and training programs for Extension faculty, outreach workers and community partners working to meet the diverse needs of their communities. This can be accomplished by building multicultural capacity in Extension/outreach programs to work effectively with Latino and immigrant communities, and continuing to work with the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development (NCRCRD) to provide professional development webinars for Extension and other interested personnel.

 

More information

More information about the activities, procedures, outcomes and impacts, along with NCERA 216 history, can be found at the NIMSS site on NCERA 216.