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A message from Latino Issues Forum, Chair of the Board, Gaspar Laca:
 
Dear Friends,
As a nation we are facing one of the most challenging economic times since the Great Depression. In the midst of this uncertainty, staff has continued to carry-out the important work of Latino Issues Forum. We recently organized a very successful event in Los Angeles on The State of Latinos in California: Investing in our Future, for advocates, community and corporate partners.

LIF Staff and the Board of Directors remain committed to working to provide a strong voice for California's Latino community by developing and advocating for equitable public policy solutions to the urgent issues facing us today. While we have been working hard on these issues, due to the economic recession and reduced income from our foundation and corporate partners, the Board has had to make some very difficult choices. One of the most difficult decisions has been to suspend the operations of LIF, lay-off staff and close the offices effective June 15, 2009. This decision is not a reflection of the extremely talented and committed staff of LIF, but only a response to the reality that funding for public policy is much more difficult in an economic climate where the priority must be to support those most in need through direct services.

During this difficult period of time, the Board of Directors is meeting to assess the options for LIF going forward. We appreciate the outpouring of support we have received from our funders, community partners and loyal friends and, most of all, from our staff, as we figure out what the future holds for LIF. If you need to reach LIF please continue to contact us at lifcentral@lif.org, or at our mailing address: 1918 University Avenue, Suit 3D, Berkeley, CA 94704 and our website. We will continue to post updates about the organization going forward.

Sincerely,

Gaspar Laca
Chair, Board of Directors 
Latino Issues Forum

HIGHLIGHTS OF 20 YEARS OF PUBLIC POLICY AND ADVOCACY SOLUTIONS

Latino Issues Forum (LIF) was founded in 1987 by a distinguished cadre of Latino leaders who wanted to fill a void - the need for a statewide organization, with both research and advocacy capacity, addressing policy issues not addressed by other Latino organizations. As a new organization, LIF needed the flexibility to address issues at the federal, state or regional level- both in the public and private sector. During its 20-year history, LIF has tackled a myriad of issues ranging from access to basic Spanish language phone service options, citizenship, higher education and consumer protection. Launched during a very difficult time for Latino and immigrant communities and considering the rapid demographic shifts of the 1980’s, and a stagnant economic environment, LIF was forceful, thoughtful and opportunistic in creating and seizing new opportunities for positive change.

Vision

Our vision is to improve the social, economic and environmental future for Latinos in California.

Over the last fifty years California’s population has more than tripled, growing from 13 million people to more than 36 million. While population growth has occurred across ethnic groups, California’s Latino population has grown faster than any other group. In 1980 there were 4.5 million Latinos living in California. Today, 25 years later, there are more than 12 million Latinos living throughout the state. By 2030, California’s Latino population is expected to reach more than 22.5 million people and will include nearly half of all Californians. The rapid population growth experienced over the last 25 years has profoundly affected the social, political, economic and physical landscape of California.

LIF is positioned to lead public policy initiatives, advocacy and research that will have a long-term impact on California’s Latino population. LIF believes that improving the lives of Latinos in California requires a comprehensive and holistic approach.

CELEBRATING 20 YEARS OF INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS

Over the last 20 years, Latino Issues Forum (LIF) has adapted its strategies to create innovative and timely public policy solutions to Latinos’ pressing problems through a combination of research and advocacy. LIF focuses primarily in the areas of consumer protection, education, environment, health and telecommunications and technology.

Please see our publications list from the last 20 years of groundbreaking policy research.

The following timeline highlights LIF’s accomplishments in the context of significant political events that have greatly impacted the lives of Latinos across California.

1987       
• LIF founded by California’s Latino educators, civic, and political leaders. With over 7.5 million Latinos in California, representing 25% of California’s population, the need for a proactive Latino public policy organization was evident.
1989
• LIF and Public Advocates begin the campaign to bring low-cost no-fault insurance to Californians
1990
• LIF ad in La Opinion to heighten awareness on the no-fault insurance campaign
1991
• California Chicano Legislative Caucus renamed to Latino Legislative Caucus
• LIF starts an internship program for undergraduates and law students
• LIF hosted community seminars around the state to introduce new communication technology and its uses in the Latino community
• Coordinated a major grassroots campaign for affordable insurance
• Critical Issues Journal conceptualized
1992
• Focus on the status and policy needs of Latino children
• LIF Fellowship Program established
1993
• LIF embarks on Project H.E.A.L.- Health Education Access to Latinos
• Organized “The Latino Response” Conference for over 350 health care advocates to discuss and coordinate a response at a national level
• Partnered with Congressman Xavier Becerra and the Clinton Administration to promote a U.S. Citizenship Bureau as a separate entity from the INS
• Led campaign to increase the number of Latino partners in major law firms by conducting a study of the Bar Association of San Francisco
• Published an open letter to President Clinton in the New York Times about the importance of universal health care for all—including undocumented families
• Partnered with the Center for Health Policy Development to extend the Health Education Project to Texas
1994
• Oakland symposium with over 150 Latino Leaders to plan a model for growth in California
• Participated in the Washington D.C. Economic Summit; LIF brought attention to the need to make the Internet accessible 
• First Health Care Reform seminar as part of the Southwest Health Initiative project
• Established a 1-800 Health Care campaign in support of universal health coverage
• California voters pass Proposition 187 to deny undocumented immigrants from obtaining social services, health care and public education
1996
• LIF reports that Latino voter turnout increases by 46% from the 1988 elections
• LIF campaigns against Proposition 209, which prohibits the consideration of race within public entities; the initiative passes with 54% of the vote
1998
• LIF hosted a community briefing for over 75 community leaders and health care advocates in Bakersfield. The briefing focused on the Medi-Cal managed care operations shift and Healthy Families
• Hosted a Town hall meeting with Congresswoman Pelosi and Congresswoman Lee to ensure affordable Medicare services
2000
• LIF effectively participated in proceedings against Qwest Communications’ “slamming” practices targeting of limited English proficient (LEP) and immigrant consumers, which resulted in a $20 million fine against the company
2001
• LIF successfully advocated on behalf of misled LEP consumers targeted by communications companies with bundle packages
• LIF reveals major problems in California’s expedited production of gas-fired power “peaker” plants to solve the energy crisis – calls on the Governor to rescind emergency executive orders to build “peaker” plants
2002
• LIF Fresno Office opens to focus on the regional needs in the San Joaquin Valley
• California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) adopts “automatic enrollment” for CARE energy discount for Medi-Cal, WIC, and Healthy Families participants, at LIF’s demand
2003
• LIF elevates Latinas’ reproductive health issues through major publication
2004
• LIF becomes involved in expanding protections to undocumented migrant communities eligible for Lifeline low-income communications discounts through CPUC proceedings
2005
• Embarked on a new collaboration with the California Latino School Boards Association to develop a comprehensive education policy reform for California
• Conducted an ambitious public education campaign in West Fresno on air quality issues, local environmental decision making process, and state-wide policy making
• Organized Latino residents throughout California to speak out in public hearings on CPUC merger proceedings to re-direct funds to community needs
2006
• LIF backed Consumers’ Bill of Rights approved by the California Public Utilities Commission
• During the gubernatorial elections, LIF convened 3 separate voter forums to stimulate dialogue regarding Latino voting trends
• Served as a critical supporter of SB853 to develop regulations to establish language access standards in private health insurance
• Initiated the Latino Environmental Health Leadership Institute to develop leadership among low-income Latino residents in the San Joaquin Valley
2007
• LIF marks 20th Anniversary
• Launch of LIF’s First Legislative Symposium
• Leads the passage of SB719 to reform the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Board to include a scientist and medical doctor bringing more scientific integrity to the Board
• LIF recognizes the 27 Latino legislators in the Latino Legislative Caucus
• LIF reports Latinos comprise 35% of California’s population


Advocacy resources:
LIF Legislative Priorities 2009

California State Assembly Roster 2008 - 2009
California State Senate Roster 2009 - 2010
Guide to the Legislative Process

Upcoming Events:
  *Please join us for an advocacy training workshop entitled
Worry Free Advocacy: Understanding the Rules of Nonprofit Advocacy
in Fresno on Tuesday, June 16, 2009. 

Other Highlights:
  *Find out more about utility bill discounts and other financial assistance plans during these tough economic times:
We CARE California Resource Fairs.




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