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Conference to highlight contributions and needs of Latinos in Michigan

East Lansing, Michigan - MSU’s Julian Samora Research Institute will celebrate its 20th anniversary next week with a conference highlighting the contributions and needs of Latinos and to show how their growth impacts Michigan’s economy.

Rubén Martinez, JSRI director, said Latinos are the nation’s youngest and fastest-growing major population group. In Michigan, the Latino population increased by 73,000 people between 2001 and 2007, according to MSU’s Center for Economic Analysis.

But Latinos are also one of the most marginalized populations, Martinez said, adding that improvements in the quality of life for many Latinos begin with knowledge and its translation into policy. For 20 years, JRSI has generated and applied knowledge to serve the needs of Latino communities in the Midwest and across the nation.

“Latinos’ social and political incorporation into the core fabric of our institutions is vital to the future of the nation as whole; that work needs to begin today lest the nation finds that we waited too long to position them to contribute to a vibrant economy,” Martinez said. 

The conference will be Nov. 6 and 7 at the East Lansing Marriott. It includes a series of panels covering issues such as civic participation, community building, education, health, immigration, leadership and the arts, poverty, and economic uncertainties.

Keynote speaker Jorge Bustamante, an internationally recognized scholar and the United Nations’ special rapporteur on migrants’ rights, will present “Mexican Immigration to the U.S.: 2009 and Beyond.” Bustamante will be available for media interviews Nov. 6 from 10:00-10:30 a.m. in the Director’s Room at the Marriott.

A meeting of the North Central Education/Extension and Research Activity ( Region 216 ) to organize collaborative research, education and outreach opportunities on Latinos and immigrants in the Midwest will be held Nov. 4 and 5 as a pre-conference activity.

A special musical performance celebrating the 20th anniversary of the institute will be at 8 p.m. Nov. 5 at MSU’s Music Building Auditorium on West Circle Drive.

Conference registration, which includes all panels, continental breakfast, lunch and an evening reception, is $150 per person ( $75 for students ). For more information, call ( 517 ) 432-7186.

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