As of the 2010 Census, Philadelphia is home to 187,611 Latinos, more than 12 percent of the City's population. The 2013 Census Population Estimate now puts this population at 13.3 percent of the City's population.
The majority of Philadelphia’s Latino community, and Congreso’s immediate service area, is Puerto Rican. Philadelphia has the highest percent of Puerto Ricans of any city in the US mainland, and the second highest number of Puerto Ricans, second only to New York City.
However, Philadelphia, as many cities across the nation, has seen an increase in immigrant populations from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, and other points in Latin America.
Residents of Congreso’s service area experience disproportionate rates of poverty in comparison to the city. Zip code 19133 (where the majority of Congreso’s clients reside) encompasses the highest percentage of residents (54%) living in poverty and the lowest median household income ($14,586) in the City (The Pew Charitable Trusts, 2013). Our service area also shows other indicators of economic hardship, including one of the largest concentrations of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) recipients in Pennsylvania (PA Department of Human Services).
Reflecting community trends, 93% of students in Congreso’s Pan American Academy Charter School are eligible for free and reduced priced meals. In this service area, 24.7% of children over age 6 are obese nearly triple the statewide average. As expected, the statistics for related health conditions for adults in the area are also grave, including 41.8% of adults in the service area having high blood pressure. Similarly, 16% of Latinos living in Congreso’s main service area report having diabetes in comparison to the rate of 10% among the entire Philadelphia population. The societal and personal cost of obesity and related chronic conditions further exasperates the socioeconomic challenges this community already experiences. Fortunately these health conditions are preventable, and the evolution of Congreso’s health programs to include a Federally Qualified Health Center in partnership with PHMC, and the expansion of its Health Promotion and Wellness programs focuses on many of these health interventions.
Latinos, and particularly Latino males in Philadelphia drop out of high school at higher rates than any other group. Congreso, through after school programs operating in two neighborhood high schools, as well as elementary and middle schools, has worked for a number of years on identifying students exhibiting Early Warning Indicators (EWIs) for its programs and had great success in reversing the likelihood that its program participants would dropout of high school.
Philadelphia’s Latino community is vibrant and diverse, yet challenged by poverty, health disparities, and other socioeconomic barriers. Together with our community, funders, and partners, we are working to high-quality, client-centered programming that aims to mitigate these barriers.
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