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WUWM is honoring the lives of Latinos in Milwaukee and their contributions to the community during Hispanic Heritage Month.

Hispanic Collaborative president explains effort to support growing Latino community

Nancy Hernandez is the president of the Hispanic Collaborative.
Courtesy of Nancy Hernandez
Nancy Hernandez is the president of the Hispanic Collaborative.

Wisconsin’s Hispanic population has grown by more than 100,000 since 2010, according to USAFacts. That’s the largest population growth among ethnic groups in the state.

President of the Hispanic Collaborative, Nancy Hernandez, wants to make Milwaukee a top-10 city on the Hispanic Well-Being Index. She says the group evaluates negative trends like poverty and health issues, and then works with the community to find solutions. The Hispanic Collaborative was formed in 2019 following a 2016 study by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.

"The community was very clear when we looked at this data that having an entity that woke up 24/7 thinking about that was the right thing for us," says Hernandez. "It was the only thing that would help us move the needle."

Sections of the study examine negative trends that affect the Latino community like increased levels of poverty, health issues, stagnant levels of higher teenage pregnancy and more. That’s why the Hispanic Collaborative is using the Hispanic Well-Being Index to evaluate Milwaukee’s place among the top 50 metropolitan U.S. cities.

“The data showed Latinos are basically the population growth and job growth engine, not just for Milwaukee and Wisconsin, but the U.S., really,” Hernandez says.

The index considers metrics like income, health and education levels. Hernandez says the group’s efforts are about “bringing the community together to find both voice and solution to key issues.” Milwaukee is currently 44th on the index. San Jose is ranked first followed by San Francisco and Virginia Beach.

The Hispanic Collaborative created the Hispanic Real Estate Equity Fund in partnership with the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce. The groups hope to increase the Latino presence in local development by creating a funding model to assist aspiring Hispanic developers.

"I'm happy to say that we've got some really good traction on different ways to think about this with the community sharing with us what their pain points are," she says. "Understanding the pain points and what's not working helps us build what does work."

Eddie is a WUWM news reporter.
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