Ethnic Philanthropy as a Non-Traditional Safety-Net: Do Elite Latinos Help to Alleviate Poverty in Latino Immigrant Communities?
Jody Agius Vallejo, University of Southern California

Latinos are America’s largest minority group, now comprising 17% of the population. Their proportion of the population is expected to double in less than three decades. Latinos’ relatively low levels of educational attainment over the generations have led scholars, politicians, and laypersons to fear that they may not move into the middle and upper classes, but instead, experience stagnated or downward mobility over the generations where they become mired in poverty. Scholars are especially pessimistic about Latino mobility because Latino communities are viewed as lacking ethnic institutions and social capital that help to overcome safety net deficits in Asian communities and that can guard against policy failures and institutionalized racism in urban education. This research bridges two of CPR’s thematic areas: 1) the nontraditional safety-net, and immigration and poverty, by exploring whether Latino elites use their wealth and resources by engaging in ethnic philanthropy to create institutions (i.e. Latino banks, health clinics, Latino schools, job creation programs) that fill resource gaps in immigrant communities. This research is the first to examine whether Latino elites act as safety net agents in poor Latino communities and is important for policy makers devising innovative policies that redefine, and overcome cutbacks, in the social safety net. Ethnic philanthropy is not typically viewed as a segment of the safety net, but programs and institutions spearheaded by ethnic elites may prove crucial in stabilizing the economic well being of poor Latinos in immigrant communities.


Jody Agius Vallejo
Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Southern California

Jody Agius Vallejo is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Southern California. She is an expert in immigration, race/ethnicity, Latinos and the Latino middle class. Her book, Barrios to Burbs: The Making of the Mexican American Middle Class (Stanford University Press) examines patterns of mobility and socioeconomic incorporation among upwardly mobile and middle-class Latinos in Southern California.