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Capacity-Building in the South Lake Tahoe Latino Community

The Issue

South Lake Tahoe (SLT) is a California community well known for its natural beauty, recreational opportunities and proximity to Nevada's gambling economy. Less known is SLT’s growing reliance on and the increasing size and importance of the immigrant Latino community. From 1970 to 2000, population nearly doubled from 13,000 to 24,000, while the Latino population increased six times from under 1,000 to nearly 6,500. Today, Latinos constitute 30-35 percent of the population. Despite this growth, the Latino community and associated issues have been largely unacknowledged. In 2001, SLT officials created the Latino Affairs Commission (LAC) to identify and address issues related to housing, education, employment, health and safety. In 2002, UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) officials met with LAC members in El Dorado County. This connection and the resulting outcomes and products have been beneficial for both entities and the Latino community. SLT was isolated from county central services; significant connections did not exist with UCCE and its 4H programs. A new connection was established as the result of assessing, documenting and reporting the needs and assets of the local Latino community.

What Has ANR Done?

The project involved the conceptualization, design and implementation of a SLT Latino community assessment by personnel from the LAC Commission, El Dorado County Cooperative Extension and UC Davis faculty. The assessment team used existing census and other secondary data, a series of key informant interviews of Latino and other residents, and systematic observations. Updates were provided to LAC members, local newspapers, radio outlets and the community. A bilingual report, now in production, will be shared with the larger community.

The Payoff

Latino issues get the attention of El Dorado Community Foundation

Awareness of the issues and the role of the Latino Affairs Commission is increasing. CE’s role in the community has been enhanced, and the UCCE office is engaged directly with a new community. UCCE is developing collaborative research with new partners and has undertaken new strategies for building local capacity. This project provides the means to create networks and on-going dialogue between the Latino community and previously unconnected organizations and agencies. As the result of this project, the El Dorado Community Foundation is addressing Latino issues in the county and in its program planning, expanding the assessment process to a county-wide level, and committing resources to the effort. This project demonstrates the power and utility of meaningful linkages among county-based Extension staff, campus Extension personnel and graduate students. Such linkages benefit the university and local Extension systems while focusing greater attention on local issues and the mobilization of community resources.


Supporting Unit: UC Davis Department of Human and Community Development

James I. Grieshop, Cooperative Extension Specialist
Department of Human and Community Development, UC Davis
(530) 752-3008; jigrieshop@ucdavis.edu