Tuesday, October 6 , 2015, 7:57 am | Fair 56º

Partnership for Excellence Conference Takes Closer Look at Changing Demographics

Keynote speaker Manuel Pastor, a USC professor, discusses equity and the future of Santa Barbara County and the country

Manuel Pastor, a professor of sociology and American studies and ethnicity at USC, speaks Thursday at the Partnership for Excellence Conference in Santa Barbara.
Manuel Pastor, a professor of sociology and American studies and ethnicity at USC, speaks Thursday at the Partnership for Excellence Conference in Santa Barbara.  (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

By Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @laraanncooper |

More than 500 people packed into Fess Parker's DoubleTree Resort for Thursday's Partnership for Excellence Conference, the centerpiece of which was a talk that focused on how demographics are changing in Santa Barbara County and across the nation and the opportunities those changes present to nonprofits.

The theme of this year's event was "Co-Creating Our Future: Impacts and Evaluations that Matter," and the daylong conference featured a host of panels, breakout sessions and networking opportunities for those in the philanthropic community.

The conference was started by the Foundation Roundtable with the goal of connecting funders and nonprofit leaders to learn and network.

It was the 21st conference held by the group, which in years past has featured speakers such as Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children's Zone and humanitarian Dan Pallotta.

Ernesto Paredes, executive director of Easy Lift Transportation, called the event "speed dating for nonprofits. This is your chance to really get to know one another."

Paredes introduced keynote speaker Manuel Pastor, who is a professor of sociology and American studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California. He directs the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity at USC and co-directs the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration.

Pastor's talk, titled "Demographic Change, Equity and Santa Barbara County's Future," was a funny and engaging look at changing demographics across the country, California and in Santa Barbara County in an effort to help local nonprofits focus on how to best reach people they are trying to serve.

Between 2000 and 2010, the growth rate of Latinos was 43 percent as opposed to the growth rate for non-Hispanic whites, which was 1 percent. Those national numbers present a "pretty big difference," he said, adding that immigration is not driving those numbers as many people think.

What's driving the growth is what's happening with the children of immigrants, he said.

The number of non-Hispanic whites and African-Americans is dropping in Santa Barbara County, while the numbers of Latinos and Asians are growing.

In 2040, the majority of people in the United States will be people of color, he said, but the country is going through changes that California went through in the 1980s.

"California is America in fast-forward," he said, adding that the process was marked by conflicts for the state.

As the population is stabilizing in California, the lessons learned here will be instructive to everyone, he said.

Pastor also said the median age for whites is 42 years old, while the median age for Latinos is 27 years old.

"It's a generation gap," he said. "It helps explain our politics."

As an example, Pastor cited Arizona, which has the largest gap of the whitest older people and the brownest young, and that the state has seen the largest cuts in education and services.

"That generational disconnect between older and young is driving inequality," he said, adding that the population might be less prepared to contribute to a health economy moving forward.

Young people of color "are very aspirational for themselves and the kind of world they're going to live in," he said. "We need to speak to their aspirations not to their anger, and we need to recognize that this is the population that will be moving us forward."

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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