Latino Social Science Small Grants Program

The Latinx Social Science Pipeline Initiative (LSSPI) at the University of California, Berkeley, recognizes the significance of Latinx issues in contemporary society and is committed to promoting social science research in this vital field. Working with UC Berkeley scholars, students, and staff, LSSPI supports the training and development of social scientists, data analysts, policymakers, and public intellectuals focused on Latino/a communities and efforts to improve socioeconomic conditions and advance racial justice.

As part of realizing its mission, LSSPI launched the Latino Social Science Small Grant program. This initiative has two aims: 1) to support UC Berkeley faculty and postdocs in their research projects that focus on the social scientific study of Latinx communities and 2) to create opportunities for undergraduate students to develop research skills, critical thinking, and intellectual creativity.

The Small Grants program runs for the Spring 2024 semester and pairs faculty with outstanding undergraduate students across the different schools on campus. Below is the list of the ten pairs of faculty and outstanding undergraduate students and their projects receiving funding for the Spring 2024 semester:

Professor Christian O. Paiz

Ethnic Studies Department 

Alina Zarate, Luis Renteria, Jennifer Garcia, Karena Cuevas, Undergraduate Research Fellows

The Strikers of Coachella: A Student-Taught History Project

Project Abstract

The United Farm Worker Movement represents a critical organization and symbol in U.S., Chicanx/Latinx, and civil rights history. Over two decades, the UFW unionized farmworkers advocated for labor law reform and built farmworker power. And yet, scholarship on the UFW Movement has been limited, especially on everyday farmworker leaders. In this project, students from the Coachella Valley will critically engage with a historical account of the UFW in the Coachella Valley. The project will conclude with student-designed presentations for the general public in the local region and with a series of short reflection pieces to provide a kaleidoscope perspective.

Professor Kristina Lovato

School of Social Walfare

Lucia Boadas, Undergraduate Research Fellow

Crossing Borders and Crossing Ages: Understanding the Social Service Needs of Unaccompanied Latinx Immigrant Transitional Age Youth (TAY) during the Precarious Transition to Adulthood

Project Abstract

Since 2014, the U.S. has experienced a mass migration of youth/families from the Northern Triangle of Central America: Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador who seek refuge due to widespread poverty, violence, U.S.-involved political instability, and natural disasters. This phenomenon has been marked by greater U.S. immigration enforcement, a reduction of legal relief options, restrictions on public benefits, and the weakening of protective policies for Latinx immigrant families. Many transitional age youth (TAY) ages 18-21 who experience a forced family separation during migration experience trauma related to pre-, peri-, and post-migration and resettlement, which increases vulnerability to public child welfare and other systems involvement. Fears around legal status may also result in TAY forgoing any public benefits and supportive services. This developmental transition, coupled with legal vulnerability and restrictive immigration policies, poses challenges for unaccompanied TAY in securing stable housing, employment, economic opportunities, and permanency.

In partnership with the California Child Welfare Indicators Project and Casey Family Programs, this study will examine the mental health and social service needs of unaccompanied transitional-age immigrant youth (TAY) ages 18-21 years old who were forcibly separated from their families and are navigating the transition from childhood to adulthood (a “protected” status to undocumented and unprotected) as they become undocumented adults. This study will analyze administrative CWS/CMS descriptive data on social safety net services utilized by child welfare involved unaccompanied TAY in California. Semi-structured interviews will also be conducted with child welfare involved TAY, public child welfare workers, and social service providers to gain insight into these youth’s lived experiences, barriers, and supports in accessing social support. This study aims to highlight these youths’ strengths and lived experiences while working towards policy and practice-based interventions that are equity-informed, culturally responsive, and aimed at reducing entry into foster care and other systems involvement.

Professor Laurent Reyes

School of Social Welfare

Maria Miramontes, Undegraduate Research Fellow

Re-Defining Civic Participation from the lens of Latine and Black American Older Adults

Project Abstract

By 2030, Latine and Black Americans are expected to be the largest non-White groups of older adults. In the past 20 years, older adults' civic participation has received considerable attention. Particularly, formal volunteering and voting have been the focus of most scholarship, national initiatives, and policies concerning older adults' civic participation. Consequently, other civic activities are unrecognized, especially civic participation among non-White populations. This phenomenological study, which began in 2020, aims to understand better how civic participation is experienced among Latine and Black American Older Adults in the context of structural oppression, socio-political environments, and physical changes across the life course. Phenomenology seeks to study participants' narratives about their lived experiences as a way to understand the nature of the phenomenon. To this end, the project is conducting two in-depth interviews to collect current and lifetime experiences of civic participation and document elicitation techniques to deepen participants' reflections and trigger memories. We draw from an intersectional life course perspective to contextualize participants' experiences across the life course and within the historical and current socio-political space in which they live and participate. The study's findings will be used to re-conceptualize civic participation in later life and develop measurements of civic participation for future studies that more accurately reflect the experiences of older Latine and Black adults. This research's findings can also inform policy and programmatic efforts to support and expand ongoing civic participation efforts among historically marginalized older adults.

Professor Caitlin Patler

School of Public Policy

Mario Varo, Undergraduate Research Fellow

Immigration Raids and Adverse Infant Health Outcomes: A National Study

Project Abstract

Large, single immigration raids have been linked to worsening health outcomes in Latino and/or Latino immigrant communities. However, few studies have examined raids more comprehensively. In this study, we will compile a nationally representative dataset of immigration raids which we will then use to analyze the impact of raids on adverse infant health outcomes. Infant health is a critically important measure given its links to mobility, morbidity, and mortality across the life course. Research that identifies the health harms of racist policies provides an opportunity for policymakers to introduce levers of change to promote health equity.

Professor Adrian Aguilera

School of Social Welfare

Bianca Poblano, Undergraduate Research Fellow

Mapping Mental Health: A Data-Driven Approach to Understanding Well-being in Latinx Communities

Project Abstract
The "Mapping Mental Health" research project will utilize GPS data to analyze the impact of daily movement patterns and environmental factors on mental well-being. The study's objective is to explore how geographic location and mobility correlate with mental health outcomes in Latinx individuals.

Our research questions delve into the relationship between location diversity and mental health indicators, investigating if varied daily environments contribute to reduced depression symptoms. We also examine how circadian movement patterns, including regular sleep/wake cycles, might predict mental health based on previous findings linking unstable rhythms to poorer mental well-being. Lastly, we aim to identify key environmental factors affecting the mental health of Latinx populations. Methodologically, the project employs advanced data analysis techniques. Clustering algorithms like DBSCAN will categorize GPS data points to identify significant locations. Regression analysis will further elucidate the relationship between movement patterns and mental health indicators.

This study is significant for its interdisciplinary approach, combining technology, data science, and public health. We anticipate our findings will offer novel insights for personalized mental health interventions and inform researchers and policymakers about environmental influences on Latinx mental health. Ultimately, this project aims to address health disparities in minority communities, enhancing understanding and strategies for improving mental well-being.

Professor Cati de los Rios

School of Education

Learning from Working Latina Immigrant Grand/Mother's Involvement in Dual-Language Bilingual Education

Christina Velazquez, Undergraduate Research Fellow

Project Abstract

Latinx/e immigrant families face significant structural inequalities in the United States. Socioeconomic status, level of English proficiency, ethno-racial positioning, and immigration status are factors that impact immigrant families (Olivos & Mendoza, 2010). The rising costs of rent and racial disparities in home ownership, especially in the Bay Area, also impact Latinx/e immigrant families (Bay Area Equity Atlas, 2021). Understanding this structural inequality more qualitatively is critical to better serving Latinx/e immigrant families in urban schools. However, the field of bilingual education continues to know very little about the working lives of immigrant families in gentrifying urban regions like California’s Bay Area.

Against this backdrop, white monolingual middle-class families are increasingly choosing public dual-language bilingual education programs (DLBE; Gándara, 2021).  As income inequality rises in urban cities, research is highlighting the inequitable opportunities for linguistically and racially-minoritized families in DLBE, and the push out of those with immigrant and working-class backgrounds. (Flores & García 2017). While DLBE grew from 1960s social movements for racial and educational equity for language-minoritized families, their voices are often suppressed despite the necessity of their participation for these popular programs to thrive. Although research in bilingual education has urged scholars to document Latinx families’ lives, less research has inquired into the economic and labor experiences of Latinx/e caregivers, specifically grand/mothers. Informed by the conceptual contributions of labor-informed child rearing (Hondagneu-Sotelo, 1997) and translanguaging (García, 2009), this project uses participatory and ethnographic methods to learn how grand/mothers have managed the rising costs of living in East Bay cities, as well as their leadership and experiences within their children's DLBE programs.

Amy Andrea Martinez

LSSPI, Post-doctoral Fellow

Santa Bruta—Home of El Indio Muerto: The Colonial-Carceral City and the Criminalization of Mexican/Chicano Boys and Men

Marisela Jimenez-Huerta, Undergraduate Research Fellow

Project Abstract:

The book project titled "Santa Bruta—Home of El Indio Muerto" originated as a dissertation and represents a fourteen-year longitudinal ethnographic study conducted in Santa Barbara, California, commonly known as 'La Bruta' among the Mexican/Chicano/a community. This historically-anchored ethnography delves into the European and American colonial conquest of the First Peoples, particularly the Native Chumash and later Mexican communities. In contrast to gang studies predominantly focused on large cities like Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles, my project addresses the oversight in acknowledging the impact of colonialism on gang dynamics. By combining historical analysis with ethnography, I illuminate the intricate interplay between history and colonial logic, shaping relationships among law enforcement, city authorities, and gangs through cultural repression and expression. A key focus is on cultural resistance within gangs, specifically exploring the role of tattooing. Employing visual sociology, I document the narratives embedded in the tattoos of thirty self-identified gang members, highlighting tattooing as a powerful symbol of resistance and cultural reawakening. Through this research, I underscore the resilience and resistance of Mexican/Chicano communities against oppressive practices rooted in racialized and colonial legacies. In essence, "Santa Bruta—Home of El Indio Muerto" chronicles La Bruta's inability to contain, tame, or eliminate the 'Mexican Problem,' emphasizing these communities' enduring struggles and strength in the face of historical challenges.

Professor Juan  G. Berumen

Ethnic Studies Department

Hazel Coronado-Viera, Undegraduate Research Fellow

The Quiet Before the Storm: Preparing Ethnic Studies High School Teachers to Implement AB101

Project Abstract

In 2021, Governor Newsom approved the passage of California State Assembly Bill 101, a pivotal legislative mandate that necessitates one semester of Ethnic Studies for high school graduation. Although momentous and a right step towards supporting Latine student achievement, the passage of AB101 comes with its challenges. With a critical shortage of qualified high school teachers, often in schools with a high proportion of Latine students, who will teach these courses? How will this shortage impact and further support Latine student achievement, a crucial selling point for AB 101 passage? Fortunately, ongoing statewide initiatives are actively tackling this imperative, diligently working to empower high school teachers in aligning with the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum as early as the 2024-25 Academic Year. However, as the implementation date rapidly approaches, how are teachers experiencing such support? How can research become a strategic partner and aid these efforts?

Therefore, this quantitative research study will examine the implementation of AB101, focusing on understanding and analyzing these multifaceted strategies, resources, and support mechanisms put in place to prepare Ethnic Studies high school teachers and ensure the effective and seamless integration of Ethnic Studies into the high school curriculum. More specifically, how are efforts positioning these teachers to engage and empower Latine students to achieve academic success while honoring the advocacy spirit of Ethnic Studies?

Carolina Talavera, Post-doctoral Fellow 

Anthropology Department

Jimena Romano-Silva, Undergraduate Research Fellow

Documenting Latinx Civil Movement Contributions to Health Care Access and Services

Project Abstract 

While there have been important academic contributions to understanding the impact and legacy of Chicanx/Latinx social justice struggles, their impact and significance in addressing health inequities have been overlooked or marginalized within this literature. The twentieth century witnessed an efflorescence of efforts by social movements to press for real reforms and to create often alternative ways of providing care that did not depend on governmental or corporate decisions. Significantly, these social movements launched a broad critique of ways that racial oppression and profit motives undermine health care for racialized and poor populations. Chicanx/Latinx social movements also played an important role in challenging racialized health inequities while exploring alternatives. Our project builds on preliminary archival and qualitative research carried out through the Center for the Critical Study of the Health of Latinx Communities (Critical Study HLC) with founders and current employees of La Clínica de la Raza in Oakland, CA, an important organization that emerged from the Chicanx movement. Drawing on this preliminary research, our project aims to explore how alternative forms of health care and access were envisioned, and implemented, in Chicanx/Latinx social justice struggles. This research is an intrinsic part of the work carried out by the Center for the Critical Study of the Health of Latinx Communities which proposes to make an important contribution to academic discussions of Latinx/Chicanx social movements by focusing on an overlooked aspect of their legacies—struggles for health care and access.

Lorraine Torres-Colón

LSSPI, Post-doctoral Fellow

Diego Montesinos, Undegraduate Research Fellow

Wages of Coloniality: Analysis of the Labor Market Disparities among Racialized Migrants in the US, the UK, Spain, and France, using the Luxembourg Income Study

Project Abstract

This project broadly explores the contemporary socioeconomic consequences of macrolevel colonial intranational power dynamics between host countries and countries of origin on microlevel labor market outcomes among racialized colonial migrants in the US, UK, Spain, and France. With some of the largest immigrant populations in the world, and relatively liberal social welfare regimes that tie access to social goods like health care, education, and retirement to participation in the labor market, the wellbeing of migrants in these former and current metropoles is largely tied to their economic incorporation. This analysis uses the Luxembourg Income Study, and builds on Grosfoguel’s typology of racialized ethnicities, and Salvatore Babones’ Structure of the World-Economy (SWE) tool to construct an innovative new indicator of the historical-structural complexity of colonial power relations between sending country and receiving country of migrants to provide a cross-national comparison of labor market outcomes among migrants, colonial migrants, and colonial racialized subjects from different countries of origins and within different current and former metropoles.