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For the first time ever, a grassroots driven research project headed by two Puerto Rican scholars, Dr. Ralph Cintron of UIC and Dr. Maura Toro of ISU will examine the changing demographics of the metropolitan Chicago Puerto Rican community as well as its social and political implications. This research project tackles the major issues confronting the Puerto Rican community and posits policy changes to assure a better future. The Puerto Rican Agenda is an ad hoc committee which meets on a monthly basis to chart the course and undertake important efforts to stabilize Chicago’s Puerto Rican community. For more than a decade, this group of Puerto Rican community leaders has been involved in initiating, supporting and implementing efforts which have produced some startling results including but not limited to the following:
• A community of Wellness initiative which has harnessed more than 15 million dollars in the past five years in the area of health, particularly in those that disporptiontionaly affect the Puerto Rican community such as asthma, aids, diabetes and obesity.
• The Community as a Campus concept which seeks to harness the community’s social capital to improve the quality of education in the schools of the greater Humboldt Park community, particularly Roberto Clemente High School and its feeder schools, which has already produced some important results including the designation of Clemente High School as the first non-selective enrollment wall-to-wall IB high school in the world. As well an invitation by the JP Morgan Chase Foundation to submit a proposal for a planning grant that would initiate the three institutes of the Campus plan.
• The Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture as the only museum in the United States dedicated to the expression of Puerto Rican arts and culture and recently designated as the City of Chicago’s 11th Museum in the Park.
• The articulation of a community-wide proposal to the state, including the local legislators, which has resulted in over 30 million dollars in capital funding for diverse institutions in the community.
The Agenda has announced the following processes in launching this seminal study:
• A breakfast meeting of the Agenda with the north side Latino elected officials to discuss policy recommendations to be held at Norwegian American Hospital on Friday November 9th.
• A Puerto Rican leadership summit to be held on Saturday December 1st. Time and location TBD. During this summit, copies of the study will be made available as well as a discussion around the issues raised in the study about the future of Chicago’s Puerto Rican community.
• A press conference will be held in Springfield, Illinois during the Veto session to articulate the policy goals from the study.
The Puerto Rican Agenda is sure that this research study will not only elucidate the Puerto Rican reality of Chicago but also provide perspectives for the future of our diasporic community.