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Milwaukee's Latino population galvanizes huge population boom in Wisconsin

Organizations like the Roberto Hernandez Center at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the United Community Center focus on education
Census: Wisconsin sees small population gains
Posted at 7:21 AM, Sep 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-05 08:21:09-04

MILWAUKEE, Wisc. — As the city of Milwaukee sees its population drop in the 2020 U.S. Census, one community surges to new heights.

“Hispanics continue to grow here in Milwaukee, in the state of Wisconsin, and we want to make sure that we are able to provide the resources for the Hispanic community so they can move forward,” said Laura Gutierrez, Executive Director, United Community Center.

Data from the 2020 Census shows that while Milwaukee’s overall population fell, the Hispanic/Latino community grew by about 8 percent, one of the largest climbs by a population in recent memory.

In response to that surge, groups like the Roberto Hernandez Center at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the United Community Center are working to galvanize this growth, by becoming laser-focused on education.

“Community has always been at the forefront of our work, making sure that they understand that there's a pathway into the university, that there's people that speak Spanish, there's a center that is really paying attention to the uniqueness of the community,” said Alberto Maldonado, Director, Roberto Hernandez Center, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Both organizations offer a wide range of programs and opportunities to help their students and families grow, including bilingual instructors and mentors that can offer a guiding hand through a potentially difficult transition from the household into the classroom.

“We want to make sure that they understand what their options are and how to navigate those processes. Because many times, first-generation students may not know or their parents or families may not know how to navigate that. So, we are really just looking at what are the needs and then meeting those needs of the community,” said Gutierrez.

While the growth is historic, Maldonado says the true impact lies in how this new presence will make a change in Milwaukee, which he hopes to see in the years to come.

“The Latino community is growing, but it's also growing in their desire to move forward and grow and to become professionals and to do great things here in this community. That's my inspiration. That's sort of the legacy that we all want to leave,” said Maldonado.

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