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Fall 2016 Newsletter

  ·  Sylvia Puente

Dear Friends,

As we all know, our beautiful state of Illinois is struggling and our nation is locked in a presidential debate that I believe will define the soul of our increasingly diverse, pluralistic society.  On the days, when I ask what else can  the Forum do? 

I start with going back to the facts, leveraging our electoral power, and strengthening the web of communication and relationships to find strategies and solutions. This letter provides the facts around the myths that are being perpetuated on immigration by a leading presidential candidate, and while the Forum is a non-partisan organization, we encourage you to VOTE.  Election Day is around the corner. Have you registered to vote? Have you encouraged your friends and family to register to vote? 

Recently, I provided an Opinion Editorial to Crain’s Chicago Business and interviews with other local news media about Donald Trump’s rhetoric of immigrants that has become a foundation of his campaign rhetoric.  Click here for other news stories on the issue.

In recent months he has gone before Latino and African-American voters and asked them: “What the hell do you have to lose?”

What we should be asking is this: What’s already been lost because of the damage his campaign has caused by the demagoguery and vitriolic lies about a cross-section of this nation’s Latino community and the ripple effect of an increase in hate crimes and open racism and nativism?

His claims are not based on facts. The Pew Research Center released a study recently showing there was actually a net loss of 140,000 Mexican nationals moving into the U.S. between 2009 and 2014. More Mexican nationals and their families returned to Mexico from the U.S. than entered. But those facts don’t win over Trump’s voters.

And if we’re to believe what we heard at the first presidential debate, undocumented immigrants pay taxes and contribute to the vitality of our nation. According to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) as of 2013 undocumented immigrants contributed an estimated $11.64 billion in state and local taxes nationally; $743 million in Illinois alone.

The facts reinforce the Latino Policy Forum’s vision that Latinos and immigrants are contributing members of society and their influence is growing. The Forum’s own analysis revealed that, between 2000 and 2013, U.S. born Latinos accounted three of every four new entrants into the labor force overall. And currently in Illinois, there are about 370,000 immigrants who are eligible to become U.S. citizens.

In 2016, its estimated Latino voters will account for 10 percent of Illinois’ electorate, which is based on average growth per year and is not reflective of the potential size of a Latino voter bloc due to the significant number who have yet to register.

I believe the Latino voter turnout for this election will be the highest ever in our state’s and nation’s history because of the many of us who have been insulted by the attacks. There is so much riding on this election that we can no longer sit idly by and hope for the best.

The Deadline to register to vote in person in Illinois is Nov. 8, or online by Oct. 23 and by mail Oct. 11.  If you are not registered to vote, click here to register in English or here to register in Spanish. It takes two minutes.  I implore you, DO IT RIGHT NOW!

If you are not sure whether or not you are registered to vote, click here to check.  

If you recently moved or changed your name, you should update your voter registration so that your personal information correctly corresponds to your voter profile. This will help ensure that you don’t experience any problems when you visit your local polling place. You can update your voter registration information by visiting the following website in English or Spanish.

While I have been dismayed by negative sentiments toward minorities, I am feeling hopeful after my recent experience with the community leaders participating in our newly redesigned Multicultural Leadership Academy.

The Forum met in early September to inaugurate a class of African American and Latino leaders to bridge the  divide that exists in Chicago by cultivating local activists who will work on an issue of social, community or policy change across predominantly Latino and African American neighborhoods.  Their energy and enthusiasm was palpable.  Expect to hear more on this as these leaders have committed to meeting on a regular basis through next summer. A heartfelt  thank you to the sponsors who have taken the leap with us on this endeavor including: Allstate Foundation, American Express,The Chicago Community Trust, David and Reva Logan Foundation, the Joyce Foundation and the McCormick Foundation.

In other news, the Forum welcomes new staffers Karen Garibay-Mulattieri, who will lead our Education Team, Manuel “Manny” Gonzales the Forum’s new Communications Manager and LaToya Purnell who will serve as Administrative Coordinator responsible for scheduling and assisting with office management.

Finally, I hope to see you all on Nov. 10 for the Forum’s annual policy breakfast “Latinos on the Move.” Your attendance will be a vote of confidence in the Forum’s work and impact. Click here to reserve your ticket. 


Sylvia Puente
Executive Director
PHOTO: Olga Lopez


The Forum, in partnership with the Center for Changing Lives, facilitated one of its TECHO (Training and Education Creates Housing Opportunities) presentations in August aimed at educating the community on fair housing rights. As a result of the collaborative effort, 14 people were educated on housing and tenant/landlord rights. With a mix of renters and future landlords the group was able to explore best practices addressing rental properties.

TECHO’s interactive trainings are available to all community-based organizations and increase the capacity of nonprofit agencies serving Latinos to work on issues such as discrimination, foreclosures, affordable housing, fair housing and the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance. Interested in hosting a training session? Contact Gypsy Gavia

Operation H.E.L.P.

The Forum and partner organizations attended the Fiesta del Sol’s Housing Resource Pavilionin early August.  The Housing Resource Pavilion provided free housing related resources and services to property owners and tenants. Throughout the three day event, Operation H.E.L.P partners successfully provided information to over 600 families on free housing counseling and other housing related resources.

For the past two years, Operation H.E.L.P has helped families experiencing foreclosure and provided them access to programs to assist in preserving their homes and rebuild community wealth. This is the last year of funding for the program. 


The Forum has provided Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) trainings in suburban Cook and DuPage Counties for the past 10 months, reaching more than 500 school administrators, faculty and community members. In targeted communities, Forum staff strives to reach two audiences: school district leaders, including superintendents, guidance counselors and other administrators, and community members who may not be fully aware of the opportunities available to eligible individuals.

The Immigration team has brought DACA workshops to a virtual platform! The Forum hosted a series of webinars in August/September to allow anyone interested in learning more about DACA to access information with ease. This new platform allows the Forum to present its DACA training to school districts and communities geographically out of range or limited due to time constraints.Webinar Series

Anyone interested in viewing the DACA webinar materials can find them here. Contact Qoc’avib Revolorio for information about DACA webinars and training.

Twitter Chat

On August 16, the Forum hosted a Twitter chat with Civic Engagement Manager, Julian Lazalde related to DACA and other resources for undocumented students. The chat reached over 300,000 users on Twitter, encouraging engagement and providing resources to a wider audience.

Read the Twitter chat here.


Every Student Succeeds Act

Many representatives of the Latino community willingly engaged with the Forum this summer to discuss data trends on Latino achievement over time and expressed a desire to be part of the decisions that will be part of drafting the state of Illinois’ plan for education. Parents, teachers, administrators, policymakers, and nonprofit organizations have a stake in ensuring equitable access to high quality education for all students in Illinois.

The Forum in collaboration with DePaul University and Dr. Sonia Soltero brought together about 40 local experts on English Learner education for a workshop about the “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA), with the goal of providing commentary and recommendations to the Illinois state plan for education. ESSA, an act passed December 2015, replaces the “No Child Left Behind Act.”  Presenters included Dr. Luisiana Melendez from the Erikson Institute, Dr. Margo Gottlieb from WIDA and a Forum Board Member, Dr. Carmen Ayala and the Forum’s Senior Policy Analyst, Dr. Rebecca Vonderlack-Navarro. Participants were in attendance representing school districts, university faculty, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations.

In August, the Forum once again convened nearly 200 people, including national experts, parents, practitioners, local public officials, and staff from community-based organizations to listen to Katy Haycock from the Education Trust and Dr. Libia Gil from the U.S. Department of Education. Couldn’t make it to the event? Catch the entire presentation via CAN TV’s broadcast here

The events helped shape the Forum’s policy paper on ESSA for Illinois. When the federal government reauthorizes the education statute, each state must draft a plan to reflect how schools will meet federal standards and requirements. Illinois plan is due in March of 2017.

As a result of the Forum's extensive stakeholder engagement with experts, practitioners, leaders, parents and community, important considerations for English Learners drafted by the Forum have been included in initial drafted plans by the Illinois State Board of Education.  Forum staff is also being invited to present to pertinent groups who will have vital influence in the new education law about the education of English Learners.

Abriendo Puertas Training Institute

Facilitators are now ready to engage parents within their respective communities by increasing their knowledge in early childhood development, improving parent engagement within the school system, and fostering parent leadership skills.

The Forum announced its eighth cohort of community organizations in the Abriendo Puertas Curriculum, which trains nonprofit organizations to deliver 10 sessions to parents of children 0-5 years old. Each session is designed to empower parents with the knowledge and tools to prepare their children for kindergarten and future academic success.

Interested in learning more about Abriendo Puertas? Contact Natalie Vesga.


Latinos on the Move

Early Bird tickets are still available till Oct. 28, for the Latino Policy Forum’s 6th annual policy breakfast fundraiser!

Latinos on the Move: Opportunity and Equity for Latino Children will be held Nov. 10, 2016 at the Union League of Chicago. Join keynote speaker Sarita E. Brown of Excelencia in Education, emcee and ABC 7 News anchor Stacey Baca, and this year’s “Champion of Change” recipients, Illinois State Sen. Iris Y. Martinez and Illinois State Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez, for a discussion about school achievement and opportunity for Latinos. 

Multicultural Leadership Academy

The Forum is bridging the cultural divide between Latino and African American communities in Chicago through its inaugural Multicultural Leadership Academy. The Academy brings together 24 activists to increase understanding of how racial and ethnic groups can collaborate to transform their communities through social action. The group will meet through June 2017, and over the nine-month period, a full seven days of training will be provided to each community leader.

See a full list of the Academy’s 2016 cohort here


Strengthening Chicago’s “Welcoming City” Ordinance

The Chicago City Council passed an amendment to the City’s Welcoming City Ordinance on October 5.  The measure will prohibit all City employees, including Chicago Police officers, from questioning an individual’s immigration status and threatening deportation. The amendment also re-defines coercion and verbal abuse to include verbal threats, barring city employees from compelling a person to make statements, and making such behavior subject to disciplinary action by an independent review authority.  This effort was led by members of the City Council’s Latino, Asian American and Progressive Caucuses along with members of the Chicago Municipal Immigration Policy Working Group.  

Promoting DACA at ISBE bilingual director’s conference

The Forum provided a workshop in Septemberfor bilingual directors with the Illinois State Board of Education. This training provided educators, focused on children with limited English proficiency, with information about DACA eligibility, the benefits DACA recipients have and strategies for supporting undocumented students, scholarships and legal resources.

Latino advocates meet with DHS leadership 

Members of the Illinois Latino Agenda met with the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary and several senior personnel in August to advance a variety of issues affecting Latino children and families, nonprofit service providers and governance. A significant portion of state resources disseminated to Latino-led and serving nonprofit organizations are funded by DHS. 

During the conversation, service providers pressed DHS to share more information about the payment cycle, to answer questions about FY16 grants and to forecast how the agency will move forward with FY17 payments given the stop-gap appropriation.  These conversations are crucial to holding government administrators accountable, elevating the voice of Latino-led service providers and delivering messages about budget and program implementation with Latino children and families in mind. Agenda members also discussed the importance of state funding for immigrant integration services, improvements to managed care organizations and Latino employment at the agency. 

As a result of the coalition’s advocacy, DHS is in the process of hiring a Special Assistant to the DHS Secretary for Hispanic/Latino Affairs. 

Headlines & Highlights

To see highlights and headlines, visit bit.ly/ForumHeadlines.

Posted In: Education, Infant & Toddler Services , K-3, Parent Engagement, Preschool, Families & Communities, Housing, Foreclosure, Housing Education, Affordable Housing, Homelessness, Immigration, Immigration Reform & Policy, Immigrant Integration, Leadership, Strengthening Leadership, Representation in Government, State Investment, Access & Resources, Educators