Latinos in the Heartland:
Positive Steps toward a Pluralist Society

Millennium Center / University of Missouri - St. Louis
June 12-14, 2013
 Last Updated: 11 December, 2013

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About the Cambio de Colores 2013 conference

Since 2002, the annual Cambio de Colores (Change of Colors) Conference has brought together researchers, practitioners, decision-makers, and community members to discuss the issues that Missouri, the Heartland, and other states face as a result of dramatic demographic changes. The U.S. Census clearly shows that large numbers of immigrants—most of them Latino or Hispanic, but including significant numbers of migrants and refugees from Asia, Africa, and Europe—have been settling in rural and urban areas of many Heartland states. These dramatic changes continue, and are occurring in new destination areas in the Midwest, the South, the Pacific Northwest, and New England.

Led by the University of Missouri, Cambio de Colores is a collaborative effort that includes University of Missouri Extension, other educational institutions in the Midwest and the Southern regions, as well as government and private organizations. The conference program focuses and builds on the sharing of university, government, and community resources, linking academic studies to the more applied perspective and best practices of people and institutions working at the heart of the changing communities. This particular and much needed synergy is the signature characteristic of this annual conference, which engages a wide array of stakeholders in economic and social development.

This is a year of change and promise to continue integrating newcomers, their families and communities in the Heartland where they live. The doors to Latino youth, the dreamers, have been opened, and now all instances of the federal government have entered serious discussions about comprehensive immigration reform. Changes in policy as well as changes in our communities should be approached with the facts and knowledge that can lead us in appropriate action. As always, the hope is that the conference contribute to raising awareness, sharing research and best practices, and providing resources that can inform the dialogue about change.

The 2013 meeting will be a multistate conference showcasing the research and best practices from many new destination states and locations. Since 2009, the conference has benefited from the cooperation of the University of Missouri's Cambio Center for Research & Outreach on Latinos and Changing Communities, and the interstate initiative on "Latinos and Immigrants in Midwestern Communities," North Central Education and Research Activity 216 (NCERA 216). In 2011 and 2012, the cooperation was extended to include the Southern Extension and Research Activity 37 (SERA 37) "The New Hispanic South," an initiative that brings together a large number of universities and institutions addressing similar changes in that region.

While native and foreign-born Latinos may constitute the majority of new arrivals, the conference organizers stress that immigrants from other areas of the world are also settling in these regions. The integration of these very diverse groups is being studied by academics and pursued by stakeholders, as the newcomers seek to become part and parcel of the social, economic, and cultural fabric of their new communities.

The 2013 conference will provide state-of-the-art research and best practices that will inform participants about the multiple ways in which stakeholders are addressing the most significant and transformational demographic and cultural change in decades. The conference provides a unique platform to present, discuss, share, learn, and identify critical areas where the development of information and promising practices will facilitate the successful transition of all newcomers, while providing the tools necessary to address these changes in sustainable and beneficial ways to all.

Past Meetings

The Hispanic and Latin American Faculty & Staff Association of the University of Missouri-Columbia (HLAFSA) took a principal role in creating and leading the first conferences, with the enthusiastic support of the University of Missouri System institutions, and the collaboration of many organizations in our state.

A groundbreaking, three-day event took place in March 2002 at the University of Missouri-Columbia: “Cambio de Colores (Change of Colors). Latinos in Missouri: A call to action!” The success and relevance of this initial meeting made the conference an annual event.

Below is a list of all past conferences, with links to their archived pages.