Sylvia Puente: Realigning Systems Of Inequality


Latinos play an essential role in shaping the U.S. economy. As one of the fastest-growing demographic groups in the country, Latinos have very high labor participation rates; Latino-owned employer businesses continue to outpace white-owned employer businesses, with nearly 5 million contributing to over $800 billion annually to the U.S. economy.

Yet the financial well-being of many Latino families does not reflect many of these economic contributions.

Enter the Latino Policy Forum, an organization that, through advocacy and analysis, seeks to build a foundation for equity, justice, and economic prosperity for the Latino community.

Sylvia Puente is the President & CEO of the Latino Policy Forum, was a guest on the program “3 Questions With…” hosted by Hugo Balta, publisher of IL Latino News.

“One of our earliest victories and one of our core issues is ensuring that Latino children have access to early education,” Puente said in describing the Forum’s work. “We led an effort to get the nation’s very first capital legislation passed to build early education facilities in under-resourced communities,” Puente explained about the Forum-led response to the lack of children in early education due to a lack of space.

The Forum promotes collaboration between Latinos and the Black community through the Multicultural Leadership Academy (MLA) program. “I see the MLA as the heart of the Latino Policy Forum. ” The initiative aims to provide a diverse group of civic leaders with the leadership skills to facilitate intercultural partnerships and social action. “It’s creating trust and long-lasting relationships that are going to serve our city.” Around 24 civic leaders are selected each year to participate in the six-month leadership training program.

To learn more about the 2023 Cohort Graduates, click HERE.

Research drives the Latino Policy Forum’s advocacy. The organization produces reports (independently and collaboratively) that shed light on Latinos’ challenges and opportunities. “We’re really fortunate that as the Latino Policy Forum has matured, so is our capacity to be able to do some groundbreaking research and analysis that hasn’t been done before.”

Here are the most recent reports published by the Forum:

(Click on the titles to read the reports)

(Click on the picture)

The native Chicagoan shared her family roots. “When people ask me what part of Mexico my family comes from, I say Texas,” she said, talking about how both her parents moved to Chicago as teenagers with their families who had been farm workers. “Because they (Puente’s parents) came from farmworker families, they were activists, and they were very involved with the United Farm Workers Union,” Puente remembered. Her mother took her to her first picket line at age 13. “(It) was this deep introduction into the need for justice and how inequality shows up in the world.”

The Forum is celebrating its quinceañera! The organization looked back at 15 years of impact and advocacy at the annual Latinos On The Move luncheon on November 3. “Fifteen years of building the Latino community’s power, influence, and leadership. It takes a village to transform public policies that ensure the well-being of our community and society as a whole,” Puente wrote in a newsletter earlier this year.

“3 Questions With…” is co-produced by the Latino News Network (LNN) and CAN TV, Chicago’s hub for community-centric news, hyperlocal stories, and educational resources.

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