NCERA216: Latinos and Immigrants in Midwestern Communities

(Multistate Research Coordinating Committee and Information Exchange Group)

Status: Active

NCERA216: Latinos and Immigrants in Midwestern Communities

Duration: 10/01/2019 to 09/30/2024

Administrative Advisor(s):

NIFA Reps:

Non-Technical Summary

Statement of Issues and Justification

Nature and Significance of the Issue

The integration of Latinos and other immigrant populations continues to be a long-term process and an increasingly important challenge for policymakers, academic scholars, community organizations, and practitioners. At the national level, the Latino population increased by 43% between 2000 and 2010 (Ennis, Rios-Vargas, & Albert 2011), while in the Midwest it increased by 49% during the same period (See Appendix A). Today, there are nearly five million Latinos in the Midwest, comprising approximately 7% of the regional population (Humes, Jones, & Ramirez, 2011).

The Latino population continues to increase at regional and national levels. As it maintains its growth, the integration of multicultural groups into rural and urban communities must improve to avoid inequalities seen with other historical racial and ethnic “minorities”. Increased segregation, under-achievement in education, racial division of labor patterns, and health inequities continue to be the greatest challenges for individuals and families moving into communities and neighborhoods in the U. S. These challenges feed into daily stresses, which exacerbate barriers to integration and community development.  This multistate initiative continues to build on the five focus areas of our previous work: 1) Entrepreneurship, 2) Families and Education, 3) Building Latinx and Immigrant-friendly Communities, 4) Building Diversity-Competent Organizations and Institutions, and 5) Demographics and Change. We have generated a substantial body of research and scholarship in these areas, as well as developed relationships across agencies, policymakers, and universities, which informs our work and sustain our research and education activities.

Focus on “other immigrant” populations targets refugee resettlement in rural communities of Kansas and Nebraska and other agriculturally-based job opportunities such, as meatpacking, that provide jobs for the populations from Africa, the Caribbean, and South Asia. This reality offers research opportunities among the new populations and supports community-based work to assist refugees in the process of acculturation (See extension publications Bolton, 2018). The proposed collaborative work continues to generate much-needed research that supports Extension education and teaching activities across numerous states. NCERA 216 plans to reach out to former participants of SERA 37 to determine its interest in collaborating with us, thereby resulting in wider geographical area of work and more impactful activities plan.

The Latino population continues to grow (See Appendix A) and its integration into the structural and cultural features of the larger communities in which they dwell and engage remain a challenge. Integration continues to occur within structures of inequality, which reproduce patterns consistent with those of historical race/ethnic minorities. The resulting "integration" contributes to increases in segregation, education achievement gaps, racial division of labor patterns, and health inequities resulting from high stress family situations (Guzmán, Reyes, Palacios, & Carolan-Silva 2011, Bolton & Hernandez, 2017).

As Latinos and immigrants continue to be an increasingly important part of the social and economic fabric of the region the need for better social and economic integration into our organizational and civic structures becomes a critical necessity. We recognize a double-edged challenge, newcomers working to develop the capacity to function within existing institutions. However, those same institutions and organizations must develop the capacity to provide effective services to newcomers. Individuals and families’ ability to thrive depends on an egalitarian approach to accessing services.  NCERA 216 continues to work on these challenges.

In these past ten years, NCERA 216 members/scholars created interstate research and outreach working groups in five thematic areas (Entrepreneurship, Families and Education, Building Latinx and other Immigrant-Friendly Communities, Building Diversity-Competent Organizations and Institutions, and Demographics and Change). Researchers and practitioners of NCERA 216 continue to publish in research newsletters, reports, refereed journals, and books (See Appendix B). Several research projects are currently underway that promise to  yield results to further advance related fields of research and provide the intellectual basis for effective practices. However, the work must continue, as mentioned above. The integration of Latinos and immigrants is a long-term process and a great opportunity for Midwest states and communities.

Relevance to National and Regional Priorities

The principal stakeholders for the renewed NCERA 216 include individuals and families of rural and urban Midwestern communities that have expanding Latino, refugee and other immigrant populations. Researchers and extension/outreach personnel, service delivery personnel, and other practitioners work to collaborate with new and long-term residents in their communities to transform existing relations, build on existing assets and forms of capital, and create opportunities to improve community wellbeing.

The proposed renewal of NCERA 216 fits the North Central regions high priority on research because it continues to:

1) Develop high quality scholarship that contributes to a better understanding of the lives of Latinos, refugees, and other immigrants in the Midwest. The growing corpus of knowledge, built on a cross-cutting, multidisciplinary and multistate research design by NCERA 216 augments and impacts current knowledge, which can and will be disseminated throughout the region, especially in areas in which there is limited research and considerable need and public concern.

2) Bring together researchers, extension/outreach specialists and community partners with common interests and research agendas to exchange information and expertise about improving the quality of life of Latino and immigrant populations. We encourage comparison studies across states and build communities of practice among Extension professionals and other change-oriented organizations working with Latinos, refugees and other immigrants throughout the region.

3) Strengthen opportunities to obtain funding for multistate as well as single-state work related to Latinos and immigrants. By continuing to build multistate research networks and communities of practice, individuals with strong research and outreach skills and knowledge will develop more competitive proposals than if individuals from each state were to seek funding on their own.

4) Disseminate peer-reviewed scholarship, working papers, presentations, videos and policy briefs to communities impacted by the growth of Latinos and immigrants. NCERA 216 members will upload the aforementioned works on the webpages of the Julian Samora Research Institute at Michigan State University, the Cambio de Colores Center at the University of Missouri, and the New Prairie Press at Kansas State University.

Priority Experiment Station objectives that relate to research and outreach activities designed to involve Latinos and immigrants in their new Midwestern communities include the following (see Guidelines for Multistate Research Activities, Revised August 7, 2017 p. 35):

Includes an emphasis on social processes as they work in rural areas, the extent to which they (social processes) are changing and their relationships to urban issues: understanding the relationships and interactions among individuals, families, organizations and communities; and creation of community systems that can improve the quality of life of individuals and families. 

Priority Research Objectives 

  • Improve communities by assessing support services for citizens in education, health, job creation, housing, recreational opportunities, communication, conflict resolutions and other avenues needed to ensure rural vitality.

  • Extend communication strategies and technologies that insure opportunities for lifelong learning among all rural and urban residents.

  • Determine barriers to use of appropriate technologies and increase the adoption of environmentally, socially and sustainable agricultural and community practices; evaluate social impacts of technological changes on rural residents.

  • Identify factors affecting consumer demand for items that would improve human well being, i.e., food choices, nutritional status, housing, support services, health, recreational opportunities, education and quality of life.

  • Enhance civic participation in governance structures by increasing contributions from diverse stakeholders in the assessment of social and economic opportunities in organizations and communities.

  • Establish new linkages among key interest groups, including those representing family businesses, agricultural and commodity organizations, counties and communities and broad social interests.

  • Design successful family survival and adaptability strategies; enhance an understanding of the differences across families in managing stressful events.

The renewed NCERA resolves to focus on self-employment, educational outcomes, and conflict resolution for Latinos and immigrants who are newcomers to rural and urban Midwestern communities.


  1. Build upon existing and create new networks of faculty members and students at land grant and other colleges and universities, Extension/outreach educators, and community leaders and organizations focused on developing knowledge and promoting a more accurate understanding of the challenges and opportunities confronting the growing Latino and immigrant populations across communities and cities in the Midwest.
  2. Expand the research, teaching, Extension/outreach, and public engagement capacity of the regions land grant and other universities to promote the incorporation of the growing Latino populations and recent immigrants into Midwestern communities.
  3. Advance the capacity of the regions land-grant university system to provide culturally competent, timely and high quality educational and training programs for Extension faculty, outreach workers and community partners working to meet the diverse needs of their communities

Procedures and Activities

The procedures of this version of NCERA216 are: 

Procedure 1. Provide forums that engage academic scholars, Extension educators and administrators, and community leaders and practitioners in sharing research results and best practices in the incorporation of Latinos and immigrants in the Midwest. This involves continued mobilization of human resources within universities, building new models of research and outreach collaboration, strengthening the grant proposal development capacity of working groups focused on key dimensions of challenges and opportunities, generating policy resources, educational materials, and promoting partnerships and sustained communications among participants.


  1. Partner with the organizers of Cambio de Colores Colores Conference to hold an annual conference in the Midwest.

  2. Use the e-publication series at the Julian Samora Research Institute (JSRI) and the Cambio de Colores Center to make study results available to participants and broader communities. Publish 2-3 manuscripts annually at JSRI and New Prairie Press at Kansas State University, and the annual conference proceedings at the Cambio de Colores Center.

  3. Host meetings with Extension directors in the region to promote the development of diversity competent mid-level Extension and Outreach leaders. This continues to occur on every other year. 

Procedure 2. Develop collaborative research and education projects focusing on education and family well-being, economic development and entrepreneurship, civic engagement, diversity leadership and cultural competence. This involves evaluating, strengthening, and taking to scale applied research to outreach programs focusing on Latinos and immigrants in the North Central Region:

  • Ongoing collaboration with the other Latino-focused interstate entities, such as large-scale and local human outreach organizations;

  • Incorporating new work with new audiences such as political and economic refugees;

  • Implementing effective outreach programs;

  • Applying research results, and

  • Promoting leadership programs across a range of stakeholders in universities and communities.


  1. Design and implement a follow-up survey of cultural competence (as done in 2017) to meet diversity needs across the region's Extension units and the wider Land Grant system. Conduct the follow-up survey during the second year of the 2019-2023 program year. Develop and distribute a report during the third year of the 2019-2023 program year. Use the findings of the report to design development programs in the fourth year, and begin program implementation during the fifth year of the initiative.

  2. Design, implement, and evaluate a series of health-focused workshops for Latino, refugee, and immigrant families based on issues identified by participants, and disseminate the results from the interstate research project (Missouri, Michigan, Iowa, and Kansas) on the livelihood strategies of Latino farmers and aspiring farmers.

  3. Produce publications on the demographic transitions occurring in the North Central region, with specific emphasis on Latinos, refugees, and other immigrants. Make the demographic briefs and reports available on the webpages of the Julian Samora Research Institute and the Cambio de Colores Center NCERA 216 webpages.

  4. Continue on-going collaboration to implement and evaluate the Éxito Educativo and JUNTOS Program, mentoring and success-coaching programs that help youth and parents/caregivers gain knowledge and skills that promote educational success. Routinely evaluate programs and share the results with participants to maintain a process of continuous refinement and improvement.

  5. Produce manuscripts on Latino family involvement and student success based on the lessons learned from the Éxito Educativo and JUNTOS Programs. Explore grant opportunities to expand the implementation of the program across more communities and school districts.

  6. Collaborate with colleagues across the North Central region to promote research and education on the incorporation of Latinos and immigrants by promoting awareness of and the activities of the St. Louis MOSIAC Project, which promotes "Regional Prosperity Through Immigration and Innovation," in other Midwestern communities.

Procedure 3. Continue to build upon professional development opportunities for practitioners, researchers, and community leaders with opportunities to connect, virtually, with new knowledge as it grows. This involves regularly scheduled virtual meetings, workshops, and email threads to share results of on-going discoveries.


  1. Co-host webinars that feature speakers and panelists on topics of mutual interest to our respective participants. Conduct a webinar in the fall and in the spring semesters that bring the expertise of the participants in our respective initiatives to broader audiences.

  2. Create a focus on evaluation of professional development opportunities and their topics in order to increase the efficacy of programming.

  3. Expand webinars and other professional development beyond the North Central Region to include professional organizations such as Epsilon Sigma Phi and other related organizations working with our target audiences (Latinx/refugee/immigrant) on local levels.

  4. Share evaluation results from Éxito Educative and JUNTOS Programs across states to continue to learn from and to fine-tune the components and processes of the program.

  5. Organize panels at the Cambio Conference to share results, particularly in relation to family well-being.

  6. Build multicultural capacity in Extension/outreach programs to work effectively with Latino and immigrant communities by promoting professional development opportunities (Webinars, panels, publications, and other works generated by NCERA 216 members.

  7. Continue to work with the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development (NCRCRD) to provide professional development webinars for Extension and other interested personnel.

Expected Outcomes and Impacts

  • Increased networking and collaboration among researchers and practitioners / Expanded communities of practice promoting the incorporation of Latinos and immigrants.
  • Strengthened diversity competency of mid-level leaders in Extension and Outreach / Improved capacity in Extension to promote work with Latino families and communities in the region.
  • Increased multidisciplinary scholarly output among researchers and educators in the Midwest that sheds light on critical issues facing Latino populations, informs public discussions, and supports grant-garnering activities. Expanded stock of knowledge to promote and support services to Latinx families/refugees/immigrant communities in the region based on research findings that promote the incorporation of Latinos/refugees/ immigrants.
  • Increased multidisciplinary scholarly output among researchers and educators in the Midwest that sheds light on critical issues facing Latino populations, informs public discussions, and supports grant-garnering activities. Expanded stock of knowledge to promote and support services to Latinx families/refugees/immigrant communities in the region based on research findings that promote the incorporation of Latinos/refugees/ immigrants.
  • Enhanced health-related knowledge and skills among Latinx families that build upon their traditional knowledge of eating healthy diets. Community and professional supports of families in choosing healthy lifestyles.
  • Enhanced entrepreneurial and farm management capabilities among Latino farmers.
  • Dissemination of best practices and evidence-based research to improve the quality of life of Latinos, refugees, and immigrants in the Midwest via accessible knowledge base that informs the improvement and delivery of services to Latinx, refugee, and immigrant families and communities across the South and North Central regions and promotes their incorporation.

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Educational Plan

This project focuses on the incorporation of Latino and immigrants in Midwestern communities, which are underserved populations in our communities. It addresses barriers to education, health, business, and institutional incorporation through research on the nature and scope of specific barriers, effective approaches to improving services, and building capacity in organizations to improve their service delivery systems. Thus, equality and improvement of service delivery are at the core of this project. Participants will work directly with target populations and organizations to implement interventions, build capacity, and distill the lessons learned to move activities to scale. For example, the Éxito Educativo and JUNTOS programs and the family health-focused workshops will interact directly with and in partnership with families and leaders in targeted communities in Michigan, Iowa and Missouri, as will the livelihoods strategies among Latino farmers. As another example, extension educators use extension bulletins to teach healthy living, home maintenance, and intercultural confidence in Kansas where the Southwest Region boast four counties marked by Minority-majority status.

Our plan for dissemination of information:

  1. Presentations to (a) the members of target populations participating in project activities (as required by community-based participatory research); (b) participants at the annual Cambio de Colores conference, which brings scholars, practitioners, and policymakers together to discuss the various aspects of the demographic transition in the Midwest; and (c) professional national conferences that bring together scholars from across the nation.

  2. Articles, reports and other research/educational materials published in Julian Samora Research Institute's (JSRI) NEXO Research Newsletter, and the Book of Proceedings of the Cambio de Colores conferences.

  3. Research reports available through JSRI's and Cambio de Colores Centers webpages, professional journal publications, university open-access publications (New Prairie Press at Kansas State University); (a) books through the various presses in the region and across the country.

Finally, human service and education professionals have access to information through webinars available through personal computers.  NCERA 216 members share announcements on listservs of project stakeholders, the North Central Rural Development Center and other partners.


The governance of NCERA 216 continues with its previous structure and set of processes with the addition of changes as recommended by our administrative advisor, Dr. Santiago. Governance consists of an 8-member Executive Committee comprised of a Chair, Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect, and Secretary/Communications Coordinator, and five other members, each of whom represents a key thematic area of interest or activity of the project. The term of service for the Executive Committee members is two years, with members elected at an annual meeting, from a slate of nominations made by the membership to present for a vote at the meeting.

The Executive Committee promotes and coordinates project activities and coordinates communications among participants and stakeholders. Members of the Executive Committee offer reports at the annual meeting, which usually involves participation by the Administrative Advisor. Members and the Executive Committee make major decisions at the annual meeting, where NCERA 216 participants discuss, face-to-face or by live teleconference, key project activities and initiatives.  Individuals volunteer to lead or coordinate activities throughout the year. In addition, members discuss and agree upon specific topics and presenters for webinars. We identify other potential speakers, too. Also, members discuss grant topics and opportunities and pinpoint project leaders, partners, and potential collaborators.

The Executive Committee and its members, also, have the responsibility to follow up to ascertain further needed support on specific projects and invite participation for the following annual meeting. Communications and announcements of events and opportunities occur throughout the year through the use of ANGEL® LMS, a learning management network which, among other things, allows for easy management of a Listserv-like list of participants that includes NIMSS-registered participants and other stakeholders who participate at the annual meetings and the Cambio de Colores Conference.

Literature Cited

Bolton, Debra J. and Francisco Hernandez. (2017). Applying Global Perspectives on Fragility to Improve U.S. Communities. Advances in Anthropology, 7, 22-33.

Ennis, S. R., Rios-Vargas, M., & Albert, N. G. 2011. The Hispanic Population: 2010. 2010 Census Briefs, C2010BR-04. Accessed 6-7-12 at:

Guzmán, J. C., Reyes, J. R., Palacios, J., & Carolan-Silva, A. R. 2011. Latinos in North Central Indiana: Educational Challenges and Opportunities. Vol. 3. Goshen, IN: Goshen College, Center for Intercultural Teaching and Learning.

Humes, K. R., Jones, N. A., & Ramirez, R. R. (2011, March). Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin: 2010. 2010 Census Briefs, U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC. Accessed 9-8-13 at:

State Agricultural Experiment Station Directors. 2011. Guidelines for Multistate Research Activities. State Agricultural Experiment Station Directors in cooperation with the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA (NIFA) and the Experiment Station Committee on Organization and Policy (ESCOP).

U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC. Population estimates Accessed September 4, 2013 from


Land Grant Participating States/Institutions


Non Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

St. Louis University, University of Nebraska
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