Collobrative, community-engaged research relies on careful early planning to bring together stakeholders, identify research questions, and design the research process as a whole. Yet this time-intensive process is rarely supported in standard research grants.
To fill this gap, CCREC provided "seed grants" to support these crucial early stages of collaboration and research design. All projects had to demonstrate community engagement as a central component of the research process.
Projects are listed by the year they received a CCREC Planning and Development grant.
Resourcing and Critical Reflections on PAR Capacity Building in the San Joaquin Valley
Director: Robin DeLugan, UC Merced
This project aims to advance community-based collaborative research in California’s Central San Joaquin Valley (SJV) by establishing a Participatory Action Research (PAR) Resource Center in Fresno. The project builds on a four and half year long effort by Community University Research and Action for Justice (CURAJ) to establish and foster trusting relationships among UC researchers from Berkeley, Davis, and Merced and SJV grassroots organizations. The new resource center will use a popular education approach to train community members on how to identify and frame research questions around environmental and health issues that affect their lives. The new center will also serve as a meeting place for those involved in ongoing community-based research in the region, thus encouraging research collaboration.
Civic Engagement Among Indigenous Mexican Migrant Youth in the Central San Joaquin Valley: Strategies, Repertoires and Lessons
Director: Jonathan Fox, UC Santa Cruz
This participatory action research project documented and analyzed the civic engagement decisions and practices of Mexican indigenous migrant young adults in the central region of the San Joaquin Valley (Madera and Fresno Counties). Immigrant youth from indigenous families face both challenges and opportunities for civic engagement that are shaped by cultural and linguistic differences that are not addressed in the existing literature on youth civic engagement. A working group of ten community college students and alums from Oaxacan families were trained by UC researchers to lead focus group interviews with other 1.5 and 2nd generation young adults who are civically engaged, including community needs assessments and focus on access to education. The working group and UC researchers then analyzed the findings and presented them to a regional meeting of their counterparts and allies. This pilot project concluded with the dissemination of a bilingual report on lessons learned. The report includes both the focus group results and the deliberations at the regional meeting.
Wrokers' Voice in the Greening of California: The Intersections of Work, Health, and the Environment
Director: Meredith Minkler, UC Berkeley
California currently leads the U.S. in the movement towards a green economy, which has the potential to shape the health and livelihood of millions of Californians in the coming years by addressing some of the most critical environmental crises today involving toxics, climate change, energy use, and pollution, while also creating a dynamic new source of jobs. One aspect of the new economy is “green cleaning,” which offers an opportunity to reduce the quantity of hazardous chemicals entering landfills and the environment while also reducing worker and consumer exposures to chemicals at work and in the home. Although the move to green cleaners is important and needed, little is known about these products from the perspective of workers who use them in greatest quantity (i.e., janitors, domestic workers, home care workers, hotel housekeepers, and hospital cleaning staff). The study will evaluate the health impact of green cleaning products from a worker perspective and develop effective interventions and policy recommendations to protect workers from potentially harmful chemical exposure and/or ergonomic problems.
Cumulative Impacts of Drinking Water Quality in the San Joaquin Valley
Director: Rachel Morello-Frosch, UC Berkeley
California’s San Joaquin Valley is one of the world’s richest agricultural regions yet it is also home to some of the greatest environmental problems, among which is drinking water contamination. But drinking water contamination is only one of multiple environmental threats facing Valley communities. Air pollution is some of the worst in the nation, and pesticide exposure commonplace. Recognizing these multiple sources of contamination, advocacy groups desire a framework to assess these co-existing problems, often referred to as cumulative impacts (CI). But CI work has generally focused on air and pesticide pollution, and excluded drinking water, both in the SJV and other CI analyses. Our project seeks to leverage two existing university-community partnerships to assess the CI of drinking water contamination in the SJV, and create community-driven solutions. We aim to contribute to the emerging science of CI, help inform policy and regulatory efforts that seek to solve the region’s drinking water problems, and build alliances with other CI efforts in the Valley. Ultimately, our goal is to better protect community health and contribute to solutions for achieving environmental justice.
"Uneasy Remains" Film Project
Director: Beth Rose Middleton, UC Davis
The Uneasy Remains Film Project represents a collaborative effort of local tribes, community members, students, and professors to examine the history of studying and collecting indigenous remains at UC Davis and how this history has been informed by the Federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). The project will result in a feature length film, curriculum materials, geo-referenced maps of indigenous remains and lands, and an archive database of research materials for use by tribes, schools, and other organizations. CCREC is providing support for the elements of this important project that foster dialogue about the “uneasy remains” in the university’s possession and about the university’s relation with the indigenous communities in the state.
The Health Impacts through Planning (HIP) Cities Initiative
Director: Mary Victoria Basolo, UC Irvine
The Health Impacts through Planning (HIP) Cities Initiative is a new campus and community partnership initiative between the Orange County Health Care Agency, the Community Outreach Partnership Center (COPC), and the Departments of Planning, Policy, and Design at UC Irvine. The goal of the HIP Cities Initiative is to help cities in Orange County build capacity resulting in proactive integration of health into planning, policies, and practices to create long term sustainable improvements in the health of communities that benefit individuals and families. CCREC is providing support and partnership for the particular aspects of the HIP project that focus on the collaborative research and deliberative processes.
Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Tribal Collaboration Effetiveness Study
Director: Beth Rose Middleton, UC Davis
While the benefits of Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) are extensive and widely recognized, there remain significant barriers to tribal participation in the IRWM plans and project creation. This method of water and land use planning is meant to be collaborative between stakeholders and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). DWR recognizes the need to identify and address challenges before IRWM planning and resulting projects can be truly effective for tribal communities. The project’s focused investigation of DWRʼs IRWM Grant Program, the IRWM Plans (IRWMP) that it funds, and the resulting regional watershed management projects, will identify best practices and possible solutions to current limitations. The project’s recommendations to DWR and to IRWM groups can then be applied to IRWM grant guidelines and to the updates required for each regional IRWMP to better serve the needs of all regional stakeholders, including Tribes. For more information, see the IRWM research report.
Immigrant Women Workers and Social Change: The Community Transformational Organizational Strategy of Asian Immigrant Women Advocates (AIWA)
Director: George Lipsitz, UC Santa Barbara
Asian Immigrant Women Advocates (AIWA) is a community based organization that has worked since 1983 to build the long term capacity for leadership among low wage and limited English speaking women. An estimated 8,000 women have participated in AIWAʼs seven stage training program, the Community Transformational Organizing Strategy (CTOS). With this project, AIWA will participate in the development of a unique community-campus research project to evaluate, measure, and learn from its community organizing and leadership development activities, and to see if the CTOS strategy can be a model that other organizations might replicate and that scholars might use to construct general theories about community organizing and the promotion of grassroots leadership.
Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR)/Participatory Action Research (PAR) Legal Research Pilot Project
Director: Mary Louise Frampton, UC Berkeley
This project will establish a pilot program at UC Berkeley and UC Davis Law Schools to support graduate research that embraces democratic principles of collaborative research in Californiaʼs San Joaquin and greater Central Valley. Building on over five years of research and partnerships in the San Joaquin Valley (SJV), this project would be a first step towards establishing a program that cultivates long-term partnerships with community associations and San Joaquin Valley nonprofits; training professional students in Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR)/Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodologies for legal and policy research; exposing graduate students to the array of ethical issues that underlie CBPR and PAR; and creating a multi-campus effort to support and invest in the SJV.
Smart on Crime: A Community Collaborative on Alternatives to Incarceration
Director: Craig Reinarman, UC Santa Cruz
Smart On Crime is a consortium of local elected and criminal justice system officials, leaders of community-based organizations, and UCSC faculty and students who have come together to support and further develop community alternatives to incarceration in response to Prison Realignment (AB109). This project has three purposes: conduct public policy forums on criminal justice policies and alternatives to incarceration; convene community engagement workshops to encourage community involvement in and support for community programs that provide alternatives to incarceration and other key services; and conduct research on how these alternatives are being used to reduce strain on the County Jail (including ethnographic portraits of the community alternatives, depth interviews with the first 20 offenders to go through the alternative process, and the development of a complete data set on the past history, present processing, and future outcomes of offenders served by community alternatives to jail under AB109).
Street Scholars: Peer Mentoring for Paroled Adults
Director: Elizabeth Marlow, UC San Francisco
More than two-thirds of paroled adults have a substance use disorder (SUD). Thirty-two percent of parolees committed crimes under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and 17% committed crimes to support their substance use. Over 60% of state parolees return to prison within one year of release. Only 41% have completed high school, even fewer have any college level education. Individuals with less than a high school education are more likely to have SUD, commit crimes, and be incarcerated as compared to high school graduates and persons attending college. Substance use recovery and educational access can support the reintegration of paroled men and women. Reintegration is defined as desistance from substance use and criminal activity, stable health, stable living arrangements and regular employment, and positive family and community involvement. The combination of socioeconomic disadvantage and entrenchment in criminal and correctional systems makes successful reintegration difficult for many parolees to realize. Peer mentoring has demonstrated efficacy in supporting at-risk populationsʼ engagement in services and promotion of healthy behaviors. However, peer mentorship as a pathway for paroled adultsʼ reintegration has not been fully explored. The purpose of the project is to expand on the work of a current community-based participatory research (CBPR) effort by a team of paroled adults, community based organizations, and academic researchers to develop a peer-mentoring program and evaluate its effectiveness on rates of SUD, educational achievement, and recidivism in paroled adults enrolled in Peralta Community Colleges in Alameda County.
Wage Theft and Health Care Access among Warehouse Workers in Southern California
Director: Juliann Emmons Allison, UC Riverside
Currently, more than 40% of consumer goods arriving at the Long Beach Harbor-Port of Los Angeles – which accounts for approximately 25% of the United States’ maritime trade– flow through 800 million square feet of warehouses and distribution centers in the region. About half the 114,000 warehouse workers in the region are immigrants, while 80% are Latino/a, and about 40% are women. At least one-third are employed as temporary workers. This project seeks to extend investigators’ partnership with Warehouse Workers United to document the bad working conditions of warehouse workers in Inland Southern California and related social consequences for the region. Investigators will collaborate with members of Warehouse Workers United, researchers at UCR, UCI, and UCLA to document instances of wage theft and lack of health care access. To investigate these phenomena, workers will be trained to recruit informants and administer a survey in English and Spanish, while researchers will conduct follow-up detailed interviews and legal testimonies on incidences of wage theft. Undergraduate students will help to translate survey responses and enter them into a database. We plan to disseminate our findings through a white paper with the potential to support activism, policy change, as well as academic scholarship. Our findings will be released at a public forum and made publicly available online.
Making Youth Data Matter: Using Research to Increase Youth Power
Director: Nancy Erbstein, UC Davis
The right data can be a powerful tool in advocating for equitable opportunities that promote youth health and well-being. Online access to relevant data has increased exponentially over the past decade. However, these websites are often difficult to navigate for young people and youth advocates. They often present data on only one or two aspects of youth well-being and provide information at a geographic scale that is too large to be useful. They offer limited technical assistance for making sense of numbers and data quality, and are often simply unknown to potential grassroots and grass-tips end-users. Making Youth Data Matter aims to increase the power of California youth organizers and youth advocacy networks by increasing their access to and capacity to use, spatial data on youth well-being, youth vulnerability, and youth opportunity. CCREC resources support a youth organizer-faculty collaboration to convene youth advisors, design a youth-friendly portal to Putting Youth on the Map (pyom.ucdavis.edu), and develop training and coaching curricula for use with young advocates.
Exploring the Impact of Urban Gardens on Food Insecurity and Health among Low Income Californians: A Community-Research Partnership
Director: Sheri Weiser, UC San Francisco
Food insecurity affects almost 4 million low income families in California, especially Spanish-speaking households, and contributes to poor health outcomes in both adults and children. Urban agriculture is a promising strategy used to sustainably address food insecurity and malnutrition among low-income urban and semi-urban communities in California by increasing access to fresh, nutritious food and providing financial savings or income. However, little is known about how urban agricultural approaches directly affect the food security, diet quality, nutritional knowledge, and health of individuals and families participating in urban garden activities. In response, University of California researchers and Valley Verde, a non-profit organization providing home gardens to low-income, primarily immigrant and Spanish-speaking residents of Santa Clara County, recently established a partnership to develop a body of evidence on the impacts of urban home gardens. The goal is for this knowledge base to inform food security policy, as well as programmatic approaches to urban agriculture in similar communities in California. This partnership is grounded in principles of community-based participatory research, an approach intended to enhance community involvement in research and foster community strengths and problem-solving abilities with the goal of taking action. Our proposed formative research has the following specific aims, conceived of jointly by the researchers and Valley Verde leadership: 1) To explore the reasons and context behind participation in urban agriculture by low-income community members. 2) To explore potential impacts of urban home gardening on nutrition, health and well-being and 3) To identify the barriers and facilitators to participating in urban home gardening. To achieve these aims, we will conduct key informant interviews with Valley Verde participants (n=25) and personnel (n=10). Interviews will be conducted by University of California and Valley Verde interviewers in English or Spanish, audio-recorded, and transcribed in the original language. In addition, we will conduct direct observation of the most important local retail outlets selling fruits and vegetables that were identified in the individual interviews, in order to understand how urban gardens fit within the local food context. With this data, we will be well positioned to conduct a larger, collaborative study on the impact of urban gardens on nutrition, health and other outcomes identified as most salient to the community, and to develop additional interventions to enhance these outcomes and overcome barriers to participation.
Working LA Series: Young Workers in Los Angeles as Applied Researchers and Advocates for Change
Director: Janna Shadduck-Hernandez, UC Los Angeles
Young workers are the faces that greet us in coffee shops hotels, retail stores, restaurants and grocery markets. They are the cashiers and baristas at Starbucks, stockers and security guards at Walmart, sales people in mall chain stores, and servers in fast food restaurant franchises. Despite their visibility, there is a lack of understanding of who working youth really are. The Young Workers in Los Angeles as Applied Researchers and Advocates for Change project uses participatory action research to document and disseminate the experiences of young workers in Los Angeles employed in low-wage industries like restaurant, retail, grocery, hotel/hospitality, and customer service. The purpose of this project is to increase the capacity of young workers, students and youth and worker advocates to conduct research and publicly promote findings and recommend best practice strategies based on their experiences in the low-wage service sector economy. Ultimately, our goal is to impact policies that will increase wages and promote equality and mobility among young workers within the current Los Angeles labor market.
Millenial Impact: New Generation Immigrant Leaders in Rural California's Changing Citizenship Regime
Director: Paul Johnston, UC Santa Cruz
This project is a collaborative research planning project conducted by a diverse team of new generation or millennial immigrant community activists rooted in the rural communities of the California Central Coast. Our hypothesis is that in the context of the emerging new citizenship regime in California, new generation or millennial immigrant community leaders have the capacity to overcome a set of organizational, political and cultural barriers to immigrant community empowerment. This planning process will explore a set of leadership development strategies to empower millennial generation immigrants (first, second, third generation etc) to help overcome those barriers. The goal is to produce an extensive body of qualitative reports, a plan for expanded collaborative action research, and an experienced team prepared for implementation.
Examining and Promoting the Conditions and Lives of Native Hawaiians in California
Director: Mitchell Chang, UC Los Angeles
The purpose of this study is to understand the creation and context of Native Hawaiian socioeconomic, health, and educational conditions in California and to use this knowledge to improve the lives of Native Hawaiians. Many Native Hawaiians chose to leave their homeland to improve their economic circumstances but this type of migration is often overlooked because Native Hawaiians do not technically cross international borders. However, spatial, historical, and cultural distance between Hawai‘i and the continental U.S., create a set of circumstances suggesting that their experiences are similar to those migrating from developing countries to the U.S. Some indicators suggest that after relocating to California, Native Hawaiians still do not do any better than their counterparts in Hawai‘i. If so, to what extent are these patterns due to oppressive historical circumstances transported from heir homeland? In examining this question, we plan to work with Empower Pacific Islanders Communities, a 501c3 organization in Los Angeles, to investigate the root causes and interconnectedness of economic, health, and educational disenfranchisement within the Native Hawaiian population in California. In collaboration with them, we will present findings and community solutions to federal, state, and local policymakers, including members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, and Los Angeles Community College District.
New Politics and New Polities: Equity-Oriented, Race-Conscious Social Movement Mobilization in California Communities
Director: Diane Fujino, UC Santa Barbara
This project seeks to engage activists and scholars in critical dialogues about theories and strategies of organizing, leadership and organizational models, and structural and personal obstacles in social movement development. We bring together five equity-oriented, race-conscious California groups and scholars from UCSB and UCSD through one-on-one discussions, a group planning meeting, and a two-day symposium featuring public and private sessions. Drawing from engaged scholarship studies, feminist standpoint theory, and the Black radical tradition, we promote a methodology centering on the co-production of knowledge among activists and scholars about social movement change. We seek to draw on and create new archives and imaginaries to examine the challenges of developing goals, strategies, and campaigns in the face of neoliberalism; the ways victories can lead to defeats in other areas of organizing and the ways defeats can turn into victories; how the study of history and knowledge about past social movements affect current organizing; and the creative defiance and challenges to the overwhelming structural inequalities in the lives of activists that impedes social justice work. We advocate a process of community-scholar interactions that involve horizontal, egalitarian collaborations in planning and executing dialogues. This project will result in the submission of one or more extramural funding proposals and publications about knowledges and methodologies emerging from these meetings.
Understanding and Addressing Racial Occupational Segregation in the Restaurant and Food Retail Industries
Director: Chris Benner, UC Davis
Workers of color in the restaurant and retail food industries face significant barriers in obtaining the livable wage jobs that do exist in the industry, and are instead concentrated in lower-paying positions and industry segments. Research conducted to date has indicated that racial segregation exists, but has not fully explained how racial segregation occurs, or exactly what interventions would be most effective to eliminate racial segregation. Research is needed to fully understand what happens when employers seek to desegregate but do not succeed, and what combination of penalties, incentives, consumer engagement models and worker training programs could result in workers of color being able to advance to livable wage positions. This study uses a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods to better understand the factors contributing to racial segregation in the retail food and restaurant sectors in California, to analyze the barriers that prevent workers of color from advancing to livable wage jobs, and prevent employers from hiring workers of color in livable wage jobs in these sectors. Working closely with the Restaurant Opportunities Center, the UFCW Western States Council and the Food Chain Workers Alliance, this study also investigates policy and organizing solutions that can result from this deeper understanding of the mechanisms of segregation in these industries.
Empowering Communities through Data Visualization: A First Step
Director: Suresh Lodha, UC Santa Cruz
Changing Policy, Healing Community: a Participatory Action Research pilot study about a Latino Immigrant Community’s Campaigns for Restorative Justice in Orange County, California
Director: Constance McGuire, UC Irvine
In recent years, social protest of police-related shootings in Los Angeles and Anaheim, as well as the escalating migrant crisis on the California-Mexico border, have given regional visibility to two of the most urgent policy concerns of our time: criminal justice system reform and comprehensive immigration reform. These two issues intersect locally in Santa Ana, California, a majority Latino city with large numbers of undocumented immigrants and a pattern of conflict and mistrust between the police and the community (HIP 2015; Montoya 2013). In Santa Ana, a group called the Restorative Justice (RJ) Collaborative has taken an innovative approach to addressing these crises caused by social inequality by promoting policy change. The RJ Collaborative uses a restorative justice framework that emphasizes healing from trauma, both collective and personal. This Collaborative stands at the intersection of two growing bodies of research: trauma studies and participatory policymaking. However, the current scholarship has not examined how participatory policymaking practices could be designed to be intentionally healing, and how healing practices in turn can enable more effective policy campaigns.
Through ethnographic examination of this innovative practice of healing-as-policymaking in Santa Ana, this pilot study will bring together topics that the existing literature too often relegates to separate spheres: trauma, which is dealt with in private with the family or the therapist, and policy, dealt with in public through political mobilization and legislation. This project will address this gap in the understanding of participatory policy making with traumatized populations by conducting a pilot study in collaboration with Santa Ana’s RJ Collaborative. This group of community organizers and city residents—most of whom are 1st, 1.5, and 2nd generation Latino immigrants—are using the framework of restorative justice to conduct community healing circles, which function both as a space for participants to heal from traumatic experiences and as a tool for community organizing in a participatory policymaking initiative. The findings from this research may be used to make policymaking practices with communities marked by trauma more humane, inclusive, and politically impactful.