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Consortium of Hispanic Agencies

Although just formalized in 2009, the Consortium of Hispanic Agencies has existed since the late 1970s to connect, strengthen, and amplify the voices of its constituents. CHA is working with renewed purpose to advance the Latino agenda in southwest Detroit.
Michigan Nightlight: In your view, what makes your program innovative, effective or remarkable? 
Consortium of Hispanic Agencies Executive Director Norman Bent: In this community [southwest Detroit], no such collaborative had been formalized. There were lots of collaborations, but none to say, “let’s prioritize this or that.” For years, we’ve been reactionary; now, we’re trying to be strategic and intentional in our processes. To create a voice means that you have to sit down and have a conversation. People are now coming to us, and we’re having the difficult conversations to make ourselves transparent and accountable; this increases the level of trust, which will ultimately make us more effective.
What was the best lesson learned in the past year?
The best lesson was that inside and outside our community, people have been waiting for this. The expectation has been there, so why hasn’t it happened sooner; how do we connect the dots? Another good lesson was that even though it’s
To create a voice means that you have to sit down and have a conversation.
sometimes difficult, people can work together. We have flourished and things have happened so fast! We’ve already impacted policy on immigration, funding, education and more.
What was the hardest lesson learned in the past year?
There were several. One, we need to bring in more stakeholders from the community. Mom and Pop don’t know what the Consortium is, so we need branding to help us get to the critical mass. Another surrounds decisions on whether to use dollars for long-term planning or for impacting more immediate goals. Lastly, everyone has their own agenda and it takes a lot of work to build consensus; we need to figure out how to simplify those processes.
What really differentiates this program?
We have reached out to a diverse group of people. In Southwest Detroit there are two big players, Matrix [Human Services] and Southwest Solutions. We’re working to build stronger bridges and take conversations to a new level of understanding by convening the various interests and taking strategic actions to address inert, systemic issues that impact overall services. We
We're working to build stronger bridges and take conversations to a new level of understanding by convening the various interests and taking strategic actions to address inert, systemic issues...
have to look not only at specific programs, but how we are impacting overall policy.
What are the keys to success for your program?
More staff and more resources for the implementation of initiatives would be key going forward. We also need ways to measure our impact; as our organization moves forward, we need to collect data to answer questions like, “Are we really efficient? Breaking down barriers? Changing mindsets?” As a community, we have no centralized process of collecting data, nor any one particular repository for information.
How do race or diversity affect the work of your program?
The Latino community has changed a lot over the last 25 years and is becoming increasingly diverse: Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Central Americans… The cultural values and educational outlooks vary among these groups. Diversity is a blessing, but we have to know how to work with that. Working more closely with African American, Native and white populations in the community is also just as important in terms of changing policy. 
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Person Profile

  • Norman Bent
    Developing a sense of trust and transparency


  • Consortium of Hispanic Agencies
    The Consortium of Hispanic Agencies (CHA) of Southwest Detroit is an entity of community based Latino led organizations working together with other stakeholders promoting effective leadership, advocacy, policy change, and culturally appropriate ...


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