Hispanics make up nearly half of Allentown now, but Latinos lag far behind other groups in education and income.
The solution may not come from adults, but kids.
Forty-three percent of of Allentown's Latinos live below the poverty level.]
But that might be changing.
Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski hosted about 30 young Latinos at his first Latino Leadership Conference on Saturday.
"They're the next leaders, he said, "they're the next businesspeople, they're the next entrepreneurs, they're the future of our city."
Angel Figueroa-- Reading's first Latino councilman -- spoke to the students and said voting is power.
"You have the numbers in your own backyard," he said. "You could dictate the terms of elected officials. The biggest fear that they have is that they see more Latinos in public office."
Success can be an uphill battle for kids from crime-riddled neighborhoods and sometimes broken homes.
"I want to help people," said Chantal Rivera, a student at Allen High School. "It hurts to see people on the street, going through so much, and there's so much you can do."