Arizona’s Latino community adapts its schooling and business around COVID-19

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The Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce recently released its 24th annual “State of the Hispanic Market,” which showed, among other things, that the Latino GDP in the U.S. is growing 70 percent faster than the overall GDP rate.

Arizona Horizonte host Jose Cardenas spoke with the Hispanic Chamber’s President and CEO, Monica Villalobos, about the details of the report.

Villalobos first shared that the format of the report has changed due to COVID-19. They presented the information on a YouTube Webinar from an in-person studio and had their keynote speakers call in to lead the session. They broke the two-hour event into two sections: one session presented the data while the other session allowed viewers to ask questions.

The Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has indicated that education is one of the twelve determinants for public health in a community and they have partnered with Vitalist to bring a national best practice to Arizona this year on that topic.

30 subject experts on the Datos committee contributed to the report. One of the important data points from the report is the five-percent decrease in the dropout rate of Latinos in high school. This is prevalent considering that Latinos now make up the majority of K-12 students in Arizona.

The report also concluded that spending on education in Arizona is lower than the rest of the country. In fact, teachers are receiving $12,000-$13,000 less than the average U.S. teacher. In terms of school finances, Arizona is ranked 47th in the country.

“We are lagging behind states like Alaska,” Villalobos said. “And that has a big impact on our kids and their ability to achieve.”

However, the report did not solely discuss education. Villalobos says the results about Latino businesses is “encouraging.”

Although the report stated that 30 percent of Latino businesses will be lost due to COVID-19, Villalobos believes these businesses are able to adapt to their circumstances well since most immigrant business owners have come from countries with unstable economies. The Hispanic Chamber also offered microgrants to struggling businesses.

Monica Villalobos, President of Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

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