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Latinos Issues Forum

By Denisa Alexandrescu

Graduate Student, Grand Valley University (Fall, 2005)

Definition 

The Latino Issues Forum is a non-profit public policy and advocacy institute committed to advancing new and innovative public policy solutions for a better, more equitable and flourishing society. The Forum’s primary focus is on issues such as access to higher education, economic development, health care and citizenship from the perspective of how these latter factors will affect the social and economic future of the Latino community (Latino Issues Forum, 2005).

Historic Roots

The only information available regarding the historical roots of this organization is that it was established in 1987. The Latino Issues Forum’ website is currently under construction and more pertinent information on this topic is not yet available.

Importance

For over 16 years, Latino Issues Forum has dedicated itself to improving the lives of Latinos by producing high quality research, conducting community education forums, building coalitions, serving as a resource for the media and advocating for the community they represent.

The Latinos Issues Forum recognizes that there exists a void in terms of providing access to relevant policy information and other civic information resources of interest to the Latino community. Their reports and resources strive to fill that information gap and educate elected and appointed officials, public agency officials, community leaders and others working on current policy issues regarding Latino civic participation (Latino Issues Forum, 2005).

Prior to 1995, Latino Issues Forum (“LIF”) had an advocacy program headed by Edith Adame that tended to focus more on just advocacy and legislation rather than on legal or administrative proceedings. Eight years ago, LIF initiated a legal program to represent Latinos in administrative/legal arenas in which they were otherwise underrepresented. LIF decided to focus its attention on the upcoming energy deregulation pending at the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”), as well as consumer protections in telecommunications. Deregulation in the telecommunications industry was then ongoing, and abuses had begun to surface against Latinos and other vulnerable groups. LIF engaged in legislative work (such as the energy deregulation bills) and participated in anti-redlining proceedings before the Department of Insurance. The Latino Issues Forum was also a co-counsel in a lawsuit filed in the Superior Court of Los Angeles against the California Department of Health Services for its failure to implement properly the transition from fee-for-service to managed health care plans for Medi-Cal recipients. LIF also lent its name as a plaintiff in several lawsuits filed by major firms challenging Proposition 213 for its adverse impacts on Latinos (Latino Issues Forum, 2005).

Latino Issues Forum has worked diligently to fill a void in various policy dialogues where the Latino perspective has been missing, including development related issues such as land use, transportation, water and air. The LIF’s Sustainable Development staff is currently working to address the following two pressing sustainable development and environmental health issues: bad air and unhealthy water. Their statewide efforts in the sustainable development arena have led LIF to open two regional offices in Fresno and Ontario, California. These two locations are critical in addressing the mission of this program, as both regions are experiencing tremendous population and development growth and suffer from some of the worst air and water quality depreciation in the nation (Latino Issues Forum, 2005).

Latino Issues Forum utilizes research and policy analysis, community education and mobilization, policy and media advocacy to enable Latinos and low-income populations to address their environmental-related challenges and thus promote sustainable and healthy communities (Latino Issues Forum, 2005).

LIF has a long and rich history of working in policy areas that have historically continued to be ignored, misrepresented or omitted from policy agendas of many statewide and local advocacy agendas, particularly in the area of technology, telecommunications and consumer protection (Latino Issues Forum, 2005). Latino Issues Forum (LIF) is also one of the few community based organizations actively working to protect, educate and mobilize California's limited English speaking community members in the area of consumer protections (Latino Issues Forum, 2005).

LIF has played a vital role in addressing the digital and technological inequalities impacting the Latino community in urban, rural and inner cities in California. Latino Issues Forum has worked to demonstrate that viable solutions to address the digital divide in under-served communities are possible and can be implemented if the community is mobilized. In this sense LIF trains parents and teachers in technological arenas and places computers and Internet access in homes, in community facilities and schools for the use of all community members that come from less advantaged backgrounds. The Signature Learning Project (SLP) and Rural Technology and Information Project (R-TIP) are examples of initiatives through which the Latino Issues Forum recognizes that certain segments of the population continue to have different obstacles that prevent them from being able to fully participate in the technology era (Latino Issues Forum).

Ties to the Philanthropic Sector

The Latino Issues Forum’ ties to the philanthropic sector are obvious. This organization provides the Latino community from California as well as any other disadvantaged individuals with free services and resources for development. Projects such as the Latino Environmental Health Project or the sponsoring of the Vended Water Regulation are just a few of the programs that the Latino Issues Forum is working on to improve the life of the Latino Community in California. By making sure that they have proper and clean access to air and water, The Latino Issues Forum focuses on helping people in the community that are not represented or whose voices are not heard by the state and local government.

Key Related Ideas

Civic Participation: Civic participation refers to people’s engagement in public life and in governmental decision making. The Latino Issues Forum would like to encourage more civic participation from the part of the Latino community.

Public Policy: This concept can be generally defined as a system of laws, regulatory measures, courses of action, and funding priorities concerning a given topic promulgated by a governmental entity or its representatives. The Latino Issues Forum believes that public policy affects the lives and the future of the Latino community and that only through changes in public policy can this community prosper and develop towards a better future.

Advocacy: The act of pleading or arguing for something. The Latino Issues Forum believes that through advocacy public policy can be shaped to suit the needs of everybody including those of the Latino Community.

Health Care: The prevention, treatment, and management of illness and the preservation of mental and physical well-being through the services offered by the medical and allied health professions. The Latino Issues Forum Program's mission is to enhance and promote the health and well-being of Latino low-income, immigrant, rural, and non-English speaking communities in California.

Sustainable Development: Sustainable development is maintaining a delicate balance between the human need to improve lifestyles and feeling of well-being on one hand, and preserving natural resources and ecosystems, on which current and future generations depend (Latino Issues Forum, 2005). Latino Issues Forum Sustainable Development Program's mission is to ensure that all members of present and future generations can achieve economic security, social-well being, and an adequate quality-of-life while at the same time preserve the ecological integrity on which all life depends.

Important People Related to the Topic 

  • Dolores Huerta (1930-present): Dolores C. Huerta is the co-founder and First Vice President Emeritus of the United Farm Workers of America. In 1963 she was instrumental in securing Aid For Dependent Families ("AFDC"), for the unemployed and underemployed, and disability insurance for farm workers in the State of California. 

  • Caesar Chavez (1927-1993): Together with Dolores Huerta, he founded the organization called United Farm Workers of America. This organization later changed its name to the National Farm Worker association. His efforts focused a lot on the rights of migrant workers in the U.S.

Related Nonprofit Organizations

  • California Primary Care Association: “California Primary Care Association (CPCA) is the statewide leader and recognized voice representing the interests of California community clinics and health centers and their patients. CPCA represents more than 600 not-for-profit community clinics and health centers which provide comprehensive, quality health care services, particularly for low-income, uninsured and underserved Californians, who might otherwise not have access to health care” ( California Primary Care Association, 2005).

  • The Dolores Huerta Foundation: “The Dolores Huerta Foundation is a non-profit organization whose mission is to build active communities working for fair and equal access to healthcare, housing, education, jobs, civic participation and economic resources for disadvantaged communities with an emphasis on women and youth” ( The Dolores Huerta Foundation, 2005).

  • CHIRLA: “The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1986 to advance the human and civil rights of immigrants and refugees in Los Angeles. As a multiethnic coalition of community organizations and individuals, CHIRLA aims to foster greater understanding of the issues that affect immigrant communities, provide a neutral forum for discussion, and unite immigrant groups to more effectively advocate for positive change” (Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, 2005).

  • Latino Coalition for a Healthy California: “The Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC) is the only statewide organization with a specific emphasis on Latino health. It was founded in 1992 by health care providers, consumers and advocates to impact Latino health through enhanced information, policy development and community involvement. Three major functions provide essential focus to the organization's work: public policy and advocacy; community education and research. These functions complement LCHC's work in three key strategic areas: access to health care, health disparities, and community health” (Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, 2005).

Related Web Sites

The Latino Legislative Caucus Website, at www.assembly.ca.gov/latinocaucus/, provides information about the purpose of the Latino Caucus, up-to-date information about the Caucus' history, previous legislative priorities, policy papers relating to the Latino community, and links to other important sites.

Chicano Studies Website, at www.chicanostudies.org, is dedicated to informing Mexicans, Chicanos, and/or Mexican-Americans about their history and current events.

Cesar Chavez Institute Website, at www.sfsu.edu/~cecipp, is designed to assist students, faculty, and community organizations by providing funds for research which applies to social, economic, political, cultural and educational projects that have a direct bearing on Chicanos/Latinos.

Bibliography and Internet Sources

Latino Issues Forum. About LIF. Accessed 28 November 2005. www.lif.org/about_LIF/mission.html.

United Farm Workers. Dolores Huerta Bibliography. Accessed 28 November 2005. www.ufw.org/dh.htm.

Spectrum Home and School Network. Caesar Chavez. Accessed 28 November 2005. www.incwell.com/Biographies/Chavez.html.

International Association for Political Science Students. Civic Participation in the Development of the Political Institution in Central and Eastern Europe. Accessed 28 November 2005. www.iapss.org/politikon/varga.shtml.

California Primary Care Association. About Us. Accessed 28 November 2005. www.cpca.org/about/.

The Dolores Huerta Foundation. The Official site of Dolores Huerta. Accessed 28 November 2005. www.doloreshuerta.org/index.html.

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles. About Us. Accessed 28 November 2005. www.chirla.org/aboutus.htm.

Latino Coalition for a Healthy California. LCHC History. Accessed 28 November 2005. www.lchc.org/aboutus.html.