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Late in 2005, the Lancaster County Community Foundation and a group of Latina leaders approached the Lancaster County Workforce Investment Board about being the sponsor of an in-depth study that would profile the Latino community in Lancaster County with the idea that the findings would eventually lead to systems change that would benefit the community. The Board accepted the challenge and raised over $60,000 to start the project with the generous support of the Foundation, LIVE, Fulton Bank, the Alcoa Foundation, and the Board.
In hiring Alegre Research, it asked its primary researchers, Lillian Escobar-Haskins and George Haskins, to tell the story of Latinos in Lancaster County not only with statistics and quantitative measures but also with stories from the community coming out of interviews and focus groups.
What emerged was a comprehensive telling of the story of the Latino community including the first written history of the first Latinos that came to Lancaster County in the 1940s. What also emerged was five very clear barriers that Latino people face which continue to impede their progress in becoming a part of the Lancaster community. They included the high number of young people dropping out of high school, the high level of poverty among female head of households, the high level involvement of Latino young men with the criminal justice system, the low level of home ownership, and the high degree of underemployment among Latino workers.
Latinos in Lancaster County
Solutions Designed to Move the Needle and Eliminate Barriers for the Latino Community Strategies and Action Plans
Implement and utilize a network for informing the Latino community of important information by increasing utilization of the Spanish language radio station, by enhancing the usage of La Voz Hispana, by developing a community web site for announcements, and by using the schools, community health centers, and community-based organizations as information distribution hubs with a central point of contact for the network (1)
Make the annual parade sponsored by the Puerto Rican Committee of Lancaster a focal point for sharing Latino culture with the broader Lancaster County Community (2)
Rally around the Latino Community celebration by the Lancaster County Drug and Alcohol Council in the spring as a primary opportunity for organizations and groups to engage the Latino community (3)