Obama Administration Continues to Open Doors for Hispanic Communities with More Action Summits this Month in Texas, North Carolina, Wisconsin, California

More than 3,000 Hispanic community and business leaders and over 70 senior Obama Administration officials shared their ideas and expertise on nearly 500 topics involving important federal services and safeguards over the past year, according to a new report released this week by the White House Office of Public Engagement and the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

The collaboration – primarily focused on economic, educational, health and immigration issues – has informed the implementation of new policies and helped the Obama Administration increase participation in federal programs. The discussions began at regional community action summits held across the country, where White House and Cabinet officials engaged in one or two-day long conversations with hundreds of constituents about everyday problems facing Hispanic communities. Community and small business leaders worked closely with federal officials at each summit to define solutions to their problems through a set of open space dialogues, in which participants set the agenda and identified action steps with senior officials.


According to the report released this week, the engagement with Hispanic community leaders at last year’s regional meetings have helped establish dozens of new partnerships; provide technical assistance and support to small businesses and educate employers and employees on workplace protections; improve access to quality health care under the Affordable Care Act; expand nutrition assistance; promote diversity and inclusion in federal programs and workforce; and protect civil rights in education, housing and immigration.


The report also highlights how the summits have additionally served as forums for the Administration’s agencies to introduce new initiatives. For example, a pilot program to expand contracting opportunities for low-income workers and the businesses that employ them was announced at one regional summit. Thousands in back wages were secured for local workers who attended one gathering as well, while a public-private partnership established at another will help mentor a thousand Hispanic students through college.


The White House held more than a dozen Hispanic community action summits in 14 cities spanning 8 states since last summer, with several more planned for the coming months. In the next several weeks, the White House will hold more community action summits in San Antonio, Texas, Durham, N.C., Milwaukee, Wis., and Los Angeles, Calif. The report is being distributed to hundreds of participants from the meetings, as part of their ongoing conversation with the Obama Administration.


José Rico, Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, whose office helps lead the community action summits nationwide, said the gatherings provide a unique opportunity to hear from an important growing segment of our nation’s population.


“The future of our country depends on the future of our Hispanic communities,” said Rico. “We know that Hispanics make up the largest and fastest growing group in our country, but government has a responsibility to understand what this growth means for federal policies. Latinos have a great impact on our country’s history, public education, labor force and economy, so the success of our nation and the success of this community are one and the same.”


The country’s Hispanic population increased by more than 15 million in the last decade, accounting for more than half of the increase in the nation’s total population, according to the 2010 Census. Hispanic-owned businesses in the United State are growing at a rate more than twice the national average and more than 1 in 5 of all pre-K to 12th grade students are Hispanic.


Julie Chavez-Rodriguez, Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, works with community leaders, educators and small business owners in each city. Chavez-Rodriguez said the regional summits were inspired by a policy conference at the White House when more than 160 Hispanic leaders from 25 states joined more than 100 Obama Administration officials to discuss the President’s agenda.


“Each agency was meeting with communities on their own since day one, so we brought together Hispanic leaders from across the country at the White House for our first open dialogue summit with officials across the federal government last summer,” said Chavez-Rodriguez. “We discussed how to best advance and improve outcomes for Hispanic communities with respect to the full-gamut of policy issues and initiatives. The meetings were so productive, that the local leaders asked us to continue the conversations in their communities and neighborhoods, so they helped organize regional summits through the fall and winter.”


White House Hispanic Community Action Summits were held in Orlando, Miami and Tampa, Fla.; Riverside and San Jose, Calif.; New York, N.Y.; Albuquerque and Las Cruces, N.M.; Denver, Colo.; Las Vegas, Nev.; Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; and Elyria, Ohio.





                  Friday, March 9      Fox Tech High School, San Antonio, Texas

Saturday, March 17      American Tobacco Campus, Durham, N.C.

Saturday, March 24      South Division High School, Milwaukee, Wis.

Thursday, April 5      Sonia Sotomayor Learning Academies, Los Angeles, Calif.