The Latino Policy Institute

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The Latino Policy Institute A proposal to the Rhode Island Foundation and the Board of Directors of Progreso Latino, The Center for Hispanic Policy & Advocacy (CHisPA) August 21st, 2000 2 Introduction Various initiatives have been under active discussion at CHisPA and Progreso Latino in response to the need for a greater institutional involvement in the development of information about the Latino community that will influence policy makers. A search for the particular niche which policy inst
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  The Latino Policy Institute A proposal to the Rhode Island Foundation and the Board of Directors of ProgresoLatino, The Center for Hispanic Policy & Advocacy (CHisPA)August 21 st , 2000  2  Introduction Various initiatives have been under active discussion at CHisPA and Progreso Latino inresponse to the need for a greater institutional involvement in the development of information about the Latino community that will influence policy makers. A search for the particular niche which policy institute could fill in service to local government, business and nonprofit service delivery organizations, has focused on the development of community leaders capable of breaking down barriers and changing perceptions in their own backyards. In addition to providing valuable community learning experiences andapplied research opportunities for members of the Latino community, the idea of establishing a public policy institute committed to empowering Latino stakeholders toactually implement change has taken hold at the Center for Hispanic Policy & Advocacyduring the last year.Specifically, a  Latino Policy Institute that fully engages the interests and energies of community-based organizations and their representatives in the identification of researchtopics and resulting policy recommendations is proposed here. Additionally, the further commitment to empower community participants with the requisite skills to effectivelyadvocate and implement change in government and private solutions to Latino problems.The following narrative describes the core philosophy behind the Latino Policy Institute,the operating strategy and budget implications of this initiative, and finally, anunderwriting profile which identifies the unique community participation objectivesserved by this undertaking. Philosophy The Latino Policy Institute will be a freestanding, policy research organization which will be destined to attain a reputation as the Rhode Island's premier Latino think tank. Through its strong capacity to conduct primary and secondary data analysis, The LatinoPolicy Institute will be uniquely position to fill the void in information that exists among policymakers and political leaders regarding the complexities that characterize the Latino population--e.g. It’s heterogeneous composition, its bilingualism, and its diverse nativity.The Latino Policy Institute will analyze issues of concern to Latinos, acts as a liaison tothe RI Legislature, the U. S. Congress and federal agencies, conducts seminars andstudies on topical issues, presents testimony to local governments and develops workingrelationships with other advocacy groups.The institute will prepare reports on issues that have an impact upon the social, economicand political well being of Latinos in Rhode Island and the mainland United States. Italso will conduct analysis on public policies and legislative proposals in order toempower Progreso Latino and CHisPA's constituency to participate in the formulation of  public policies.3  The core philosophy which infuses the Latino Policy Institute model, therefore, is tocreate a decision-making environment characterized by a constant give-and-takebetween researchers and community stakeholders. This means providing equal footing tothe institute and community-based participants from the identification of research priorities through the interpretation of research results and the eventual implementationof specific policy recommendations. In this way the work of the institute will remainstrategic to the interests of the community and the Institute will be fully engaged in andstimulated by the analysis and resolution of contemporary Latino problems.The mission of the Latino Policy Institute is strategic and qualitatively different from thatof other public policy institutes in that the research is primarily a vehicle for communityorganizations and their representatives to gain a better understanding of and practicalskills to effect change in their own environment. Accordingly, the specific outcomes thatwill distinguish the Latino Policy Institute include the following: (1)Community-driven issues control the research agenda as a result of continuouscommunity outreach and carefully designed community participation procedures thatcharacterize all the Institute's activities;(2) Community Organizations become policy setters  by sitting on the main decision-making board that determines research topics and translates research results intoformal policy recommendations; and(3)Community residents become skilled advocates by being included in Institute-basedresearch teams and special field implementation units created to act on the Institute's policy recommendations.To ensure that these community participants outcomes are realized, the Institute willfollow clear policies governing, in respective order: regular community feedback utilizing the capacity of the institute ant its partners; the provision of nonprofitmanagement training and legitimate policy-making opportunities in the conduct of theaffairs of the Institute; and the transfer of knowledge and skills associated withundertaking applied research and advocating for policy change in local and stategovernment arenas. Furthermore, an objective evaluation of the community participationelements of the Institute's activities will be incorporated into the annual auditing processto verify both its mission performance and the fiscal integrity of this unique institution. Operations The Latino Policy Institute will follow convention in as much as it will focus on the pressing Latino policy issues of the day and it will draw upon the expertise of theInstitute and its interdisciplinary resource capacity to employ standard applied researchtechniques to better understand and recommend relevant public policy solutions. To thisend, representatives of Latino studies and technical research disciplines will play a vitalrole in providing structure and rigor to the process of framing appropriate researchquestions and ensuring that sound research technique is maintained.4
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