Author Archives: coronino

We’re All Immigrants

Graphic via

A historical look at immigration through a lens of maps.

Later waves of European immigration killed off most of the first Americans (largely through European diseases, which traveled through the Americas much more quickly than European humans did). That set the stage for European Americans to rebrand the United States, in particular (where indigenous populations were almost completely “replaced”), as a “nation of immigrants.” Even today, America is still home to more total immigrants than any other country in the world. In this map, each country’s size is distorted to reflect the size of its immigrant population.


Moving the Goal Line

LynNell Hancock and Meredith Kolodner examine how the increased emphasis on SAT scores at some colleges is helping to create a two-tier system in higher education – the first for Asian and white freshman and a second for Latino and black students. CUNY is one such institution:

At a time of massive and widening inequality gaps in New York City, CUNY has a responsibility to address these equity gaps within and across its colleges,” said Michelle Fine, CUNY graduate center professor of psychology and urban education. “I fear that we have lost thousands of talented and engaged students of color who are rejected by our senior colleges and yet accepted by other highly competitive private colleges and universities.

The basis of the article is this report which suggests the 2008 recession  forced colleges to raise SAT score requirements to manage the increased number of people entering college. Latinos and other people of color were systematically squeezed out:

As a result, beginning in 2009, the makeup of CUNY colleges changed significantly. The incoming freshmen at top-tier schools had higher SAT scores and GPAs than those in previous years. Many students that previously had been able to enroll in top-tier schools were now enrolling in second-tier senior colleges. And more freshmen with scores that would have previously allowed them to get into a four-year college program were enrolling in community colleges.

Dream It, Build It

Spare Parts opens this week. The movie is based on the true story of four undocumented Latino engineering students from Carl Hayden Community High School in Phoenix who compete in an underwater robotics contest sponsored by NASA and the U.S. Navy. They compete against 10 other colleges, including engineering powers MIT, Virginia Tech, and Duke.

Spoiler alert, the movie does have a happy ending.

However, despite their inspirational story, the students in film continue to face barriers that Hollywood can’t fix. One student working towards an electrical engineering degree needs our help.

The Financial Necessity of Diversity

Graphic via American Progress

In yet another article regarding “the new tech industry” and diversity, the question of whether it will serve as the silver bullet to address the old economy’s racial problems is asked. As we’ve read over the last months, the tech industry has significant diversity issues to overcome. Whether it’s education, talent, culture, or systemic – the lack of diversity won’t be solved anytime soon (sorry to say). Investing millions into new diversity initiatives is a positive step, however, it won’t change decades of cultural and structural barriers ingrained in Silicon Valley and beyond.

Even if they didn’t care about diversity for all its benefits, tech organizations should be intimately familiar with a large chunk of its market and potential workforce (women, Latinos, African Americans). Other industries are coming to understand how critical it is to integrate specific demographic groups into their workforce – not because its an HR initiative but because they see it as a financial necessity. Consider television networks that are losing market share to on-demand services:

Latino viewers are an increasingly important demographic for all networks. The Nielsen Company found that Hispanics in the US have over $1 trillion in purchasing power and represent more than half of US population growth between 2000-2010. Bi-lingual homes where both Spanish and English are spoken currently watch about 50% Spanish-language television, while English-dominant Hispanic households watch a mere 3% of Spanish-language TV. In other words, television networks need to win over this audience if they want to make up the shortfall left by formally loyal absconders. But at the moment few networks are catering for Latinos specifically.

The tech industry will only come to understand the opportunity of diversity when it’s presented in the form of profits/losses or market share. I think the industry will certainly come to recognize this in the long-term – which makes the future a bit brighter.

A Country of “Mutts”

Graphic via SeattleGlobalList

How will the 2020 Census manage the continued inter-mixing of ethnicities, cultures, and families? One Latino describes his dilemma:

Drew Largé, a 24 year-old University of Washington student, dealt with these generalizations as well, but with the opposite outcome.

“I’ve been programmed to identify myself as a Hispanic male because of the way I grew up and the people that I was around,” Largé said. With a Hispanic father and white mother, Largé was primarily raised around his father’s family. With a name like Largé and light brown skin, he was conditioned to identify as Hispanic.

The environment that Largé grew up in had a significant impact on his ethnic identity too, as it does with most biracial people. While he grew up in close contact with his Hispanic family, I am more familiar with my white family. Due to a long history of conflict and instability among my Hispanic relatives, I missed all of the weddings, family reunions and quinceañeras. Does that make me less Hispanic?

I agree with Elianne Ramos.


Importing Entrepreneurship

Graphic via

Adam Bluestein places a dollar figure on the need for comprehensive immigration reform –  the most entrepreneurial group in America are not born here:

Despite accounting for only about 13 percent of the population, immigrants now start more than a quarter of new businesses in this country. Fast-growing ones, too–more than 20 percent of the 2014 Inc. 500 CEOs are immigrants. Immigrant-owned businesses pay an estimated $126 billion in wages per year, employing 1 in 10 Americans who work for private companies. In 2010, immigrant-owned businesses generated more than $775 billion in sales. If immigrant America were a stock, you’d be an idiot not to buy it.

Bluestein chronicles the experience of one Latina, Ruby Polanco, a Honduras-born entrepreneur who was brought to America as a child:

With her mother and two brothers, Polanco lived in Los Angeles, in a 300-square-foot apartment with no kitchen. School, she says, was “very hard on kids who didn’t speak English.” And the convoluted process of obtaining green cards–particularly challenging for immigrants from Central America–added to the family’s sense of insecurity. At 17, Polanco was a pregnant high school dropout, married to a man she’d divorce a year later.

Finally getting her green card, Polanco says, “changed my mentality. In my own crazy mind, I decided I wanted to make myself American, to make this country my country. After many years, I had the right to stay here.” Polanco got a job as a cashier at McDonald’s and eventually became a manager. After getting her GED, she attended community college, and later got a bachelor’s degree in business management.

Since founding a school for makeup artists in 2006, Polanco now has four locations in the Los Angeles area, revenue of more than $2 million, and about 45 employees. Polanco has also become a visible entrepreneurial presence in L.A.’s Hispanic community. “You give a Hispanic woman $5 and she’ll turn it into a million,” she says, “but not a lot of people are investing money and time on these young women.” Polanco hopes she can help other Hispanic women overcome an “illegal” mindset. “Even legal people here think very illegal,” she says. “They think they can only do business in their corner.”

Some cities like Boston are already providing “accelerator” programs to help international entrepreneurs establish themselves in the U.S.

How Many Will Get In?

The University of California system received a record number of freshman applications – over a third were Latinos:

First-time freshman applications to Cal State increased to 552,642 from 526,798, while transfer applications increased to 238,258 from 234,659.

At UC, Latinos, who make up the largest group of public school students in the state, increased their share of California freshman applications to 34.1% from 32.7% last year. The share of applications from African Americans rose to 6.1% from 5.9%.

“The data show that the University of California continues to draw unprecedented numbers of top-notch students eager to learn and contribute,” UC President Janet Napolitano said in a statement.

It was only last year that more Latinos than whites were admitted into the UC system.

Better But Not Great

Graphic via

FiveThirtyEight examines the latest outcomes from the National Assessment of Educational Progress – aka the country’s “report card.”  The assessment measures overall academic improvement in areas such as Math and Reading. Overall, the data seems positive for Latinos and African-American students, however, there are still significant achievement gaps in the data, particularly for the long-term workforce:

“When we look at achievement gaps, it’s really important to look at how those gaps are closing. We want to see all groups getting better,” said Allison Horowitz, a policy analyst at Education Trust, a think tank. “But we want to make sure that students who are low income or of color, who are too often at the bottom of the achievement gap, we want to see them closing that gap by increasing faster than their white or affluent counterparts.”

“This question gets raised in the labor market in terms of wages all the time,” Goldhaber said. “Do you care about whether your wage is going up year over year, or do you care where you stand relative to other people? And I think it’s not an either/or: We care about both. And the degree to which somebody cares about one versus the other depends on the person.”