What matters to Latino elites?
Research suggests that successful Latinos aim to improve academic and financial attainment within the Latino community.
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The Latino population in the U.S. is growing, both in number and influence. The percentage of Latino entrepreneurs in this country has more than doubled since 1996 and, though progress is slow, more and more Latinos are earning executive positions at major companies.
So, as Latino professionals are achieving more success, how are they using that success to benefit the Latino community at large?
Agius Vallejo is Associate Professor of Sociology and American Studies at the University of Southern California's Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. She also serves as Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration at the school.
For her piece, Agius Vallejo focused on California. As of 2016, Latinos comprised 39% of California’s population in 2015, making them the largest ethnic group in the state. That number is expected to grow to 51% by 2050, according to Agius Vallejo.
Through research and interviews, the author found evidence that suggests "a small well-heeled group is actively involved in growing a Latino middle class.”
“They are using their social, economic and political resources to help others attain college degrees, start small businesses and build wealth,” Agius Vallejo wrote.
Agius Vallejo determined that this elite group, through both leadership and funding, is focused on two major social issues
The author noted that Latino representation in college enrollment has reached a record high, but degree completion among Latinos remains lacking. In response, Latino elites are starting and/or funding non-profit organizations that aim to address the social and economic factors that contribute to this issue.
These efforts include funding college prep programs and charter schools in low-income Latino communities, as well as establishing scholarship funds.
The attainment of wealth, or lack thereof, remains a significant problem for the Latino community, so Latino elites in California are working to bridge the divide.
“Some Latino elites have started Latino banks or are engaging in other efforts to connect Latinos to sources of financial capital from which they’ve traditionally been excluded,” Agius Vallejo wrote. “They believe that these efforts will help Latinos build assets and wealth.”
Agius Vallejo reported that Latino entrepreneurship is growing at a faster rate than any other group that owns a quarter of all California businesses, and providing access to loans for these entrepreneurs is a top concern for these Latino elites.
Nationwide, only 2% of all Latino-owned businesses have reached more than $1 million in annual revenues.