Youth and Undergraduate Transformation to Harness Community Change (YOUTH-C2)

The University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) and the United Way of Santa Cruz will partner to reduce inequalities for low-income, Latinx middle and high school youth and first-generation Latinx UCSC undergraduates.

Youth of color and first-generation college students are less likely than their White middle-class counterparts to enroll in college, and once enrolled are less likely to persist and graduate. The project pairs youth participatory action research (YPAR) and undergraduate community-based research to give youth opportunities to build and use research skills to influence community change, leading them to see themselves as knowledge producers and changemakers and ultimately increasing their motivation to enroll in college. The research team will explore questions posed by youth participants through their YPAR projects and explore how participation in YPAR affects relevant youth outcomes. They will also evaluate the structural effects of the partnership on changes to guidance, actions, or policies related to youth voice at the United Way; changes in partnership formation between the university and community; and structural changes in the community as a result of the YPAR work. UCSC has proposed multiple strategies for institutional change, including: the creation of ethical guidelines for university Institutional Review Boards for community-engaged research; the launch of a Campus + Community community-engaged research center to create a centralized mechanism for supporting community-engaged scholarship and connecting community organizations with research partners; and improvements to processes for assessing community-engaged scholarship in personnel and departmental review processes.

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