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Poll of Latino families finds optimism despite many obstacles

Joanne Krell

DALLAS – In partnership with Univision and The Denver Post, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) today released a national survey of 1,000 Latino adults that relates the challenges and successes their families experience living in the United States. Latinos, ranging from new immigrants to long-time U.S. citizens, are keenly aware of discrimination and inequities, but remain optimistic about the future, particularly their economic conditions, personal health status, and the quality of public education for their children. 

The poll, conducted between Sept. 19 and Oct. 15, 2014, is the second public opinion poll by WKKF to learn more about the impact a sluggish economy, public policy initiatives, and crime and violence are having on the quality of life for families of color in communities across the United States. A poll of African American families was released in May, and future polling is planned for next year. Latino Decisions conducted the recent Latino poll in both English and Spanish with a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent.

“The premise for these surveys is rooted in the belief that the distinctive perspectives and experiences of America’s largest racial and ethnic minority groups merit singular, nuanced attention,” said WKKF President and CEO La June Montgomery Tabron. “With Latino children being the fastest growing demographic in the nation, their well-being is critical to America’s future. The polling uncovers challenges faced by children and families, while identifying areas where families are succeeding.”

The survey represents the views of every Latino in the U.S., from undocumented immigrants to those who migrated generations ago, on a variety of issues and circumstances. “We will use these findings to better address the obstacles confronting Latino families,” said Ms. Tabron, “so that we can ultimately help create better environments where all children can thrive. We hope the polling data is used to intensify efforts by the public, private and nonprofit sectors to address root causes of the education, health, housing, and wealth inequities for people of color, especially children. This includes confronting racial biases, conscious and unconscious, that impact their families and communities.”

WKKF is hosting a Livestream panel today to discuss the state of Latino families in the U.S. and can be seen at http://lp.wkkfdigital.org/state-of-the-latino-family-survey/.

Daniel Coronell, vice president and news executive director for Univision Communications, Inc., said:  “This survey provides a current snapshot of how Hispanic families feel about their lives and their future in the U.S. and reveals their perception of important issues that affect them directly. The insights gained from the poll will be very valuable to help Univision better address the concerns of our audience as we advance our mission of informing and empowering the Hispanic community.”‎

Gregory M. Moore, editor of The Denver Post, said that the polling data will help the nation better understand the plight of Latinos living in the U.S.  “The Denver Post appreciates the opportunity to provide our readers with this comprehensive research that thoroughly describes the challenges and successes that Latinos face,” Moore said. “What we have learned is that Latinos, and especially undocumented immigrants, are very optimistic that they will find a better quality of life in the U.S., despite the many obstacles.”

Key findings in the poll include:

  • While optimism is seen throughout the survey, there are important, often counterintuitive, differences in demographic groups underscoring the complexity of the Latino experience in the U.S. Immigrants are especially hopeful about the opportunities in their new country on virtually all issues examined, while U.S.-born Latinos, and those with more education and higher incomes, express more skepticism and disappointment with persistent inequality, or view opportunities as diminishing.
  • Latinos cite a number of conditions that pose limits to socioeconomic advancement. Jobs and economic concerns are consistently cited as the issues that concern them most. Immigration and crime were the second and third most pressing issues. Interestingly, the two groups most optimistic about their financial futures are undocumented immigrants (86 percent) and those at the highest income range (81 percent of those earning over $75,000 annually).
  • There is concern about unequal treatment by local police, border patrol, and other law enforcement. Sixty-eight percent worry authorities will use excessive force against Latinos; only 26 percent believe they treat Latinos fairly most of the time; 18 percent have Latino friends or family who were victims of police brutality; and 59 percent said there are things they would change about their local police. 
  • Latino women are particularly vulnerable to economic troubles. If faced with income losses, more than half could not draw from personal savings (54 percent); secure a loan from a bank (53 percent), nor from family or friends (56 percent). Among men, 73 percent could take on another job or more work hours, but significantly fewer Latinas (61 percent) could do the same. Parents with young children are also at higher-than-average risk: Only 43 percent have personal savings, 49 percent indicate childcare makes their work situation difficult, and 58 percent fear losing their jobs in the next year.

Through the poll series and work with grantees, WKKF is addressing gaps in health, educational achievements and economic security presently limiting opportunities for children.

“It is essential for America’s future that these issues be addressed, especially as the nation quickly approaches a time when the majority of children in the U. S. will be children of color,” says Dr. Barbara Ferrer, chief strategy officer for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

“Our poll of Latino families demonstrates that despite some gains towards racial equity in Latino communities, we have more work to do,” she said. “Achieving racial healing and racial equity are key components of our mission to support children, families and communities in creating and strengthening the environment for children to succeed.” 


About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti.

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