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Latinos are now the second-largest racial/ethnic group in the state, accounting for 16 percent of the population. They are one-in-four children under age five, one-in-five public school students, and nearly three-in-five new entrants to the workforce.

The Latino community’s growth—33 percent over the past decade—in an otherwise stagnant state means that Illinois’ future economic competitiveness depends on full engagement of this population in political, social and economic activities.

Latino civic participation is steadily increasing with its population numbers. The number of registered Latino voters increased 47 percent between 2000 and 2008, the largest increase of any ethnic group during the same period—and nationally, 7 in 10 Latino voters elected Obama to a second term in the office, putting renewed focus on the political clout of this growing electorate.

Latino population gains translate to economic and political gains for the rest of the state. Without its Latino population growth, Illinois would have lost two Congressional seats, instead of just one after reapportionment in 2010. And Illinois’ Latino population will bring a staggering $30 billion in Federal funding to the state over the next 10 years—a figure that translates to nearly $1,500 per person per year for every one of the more than two million Latinos counted in the 2010 Census.

But Latino demographic growth and economic contributions to the state haven’t translated to adequate increases in investment in or representation for the community.  For example, between Fiscal Year 2009 and Fiscal Year 2013, the Illinois Department of Human Services reduced grants to Latino-led nonprofit organizations by $7.6 million, or 22 percent.  In terms of state employment, only five percent of state workers were Latino.  The Latino Policy Forum believes that greater investment and representation are critical to meeting the needs and interests of Latino residents. 

The Latino Policy Forum works to build a strong Latino community, with thriving organizations able to meet their missions and work together to accomplish larger goals. Read more about our leadership goals and strategies or learn about the work of the Illinois Latino Agenda

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