The UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative has received an 18-month, $2.5 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The funding will support two new research databases that will help identify and analyze the unique public policy issues surrounding Latinos.
Ultimately, research based on the information in the databases should help decision-makers in the public, private and nonprofit sectors understand how policies that improve the lives of Latinos will benefit the entire nation.
“As the largest non-white minority group in the United States, Latinos are integral to building a prosperous future for all Americans,” said Sonja Diaz, founding director of the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative. “Yet Latinos face significant barriers to economic opportunity, political representation and social mobility. This funding will enable us to reliably collect data that brings Latinos and the issues that impact them out of the shadows and to create real policy solutions that build a truly inclusive economy and democracy.”
Both databases will be freely available to policymakers, advocates, scholars and the public as a comprehensive resource to broaden understanding of issues affecting the Latino community.
The first database, the Latino Data Hub, will contain data from verified sources on demographics, socioeconomics and civic participation that will help policymakers, community organizations, philanthropists and businesses design and promote policies that benefit Latino communities.
Drawing on UCLA’s unparalleled depth of expertise on issues that impact the Latino community, the database is intended to become a go-to resource for national, state and local data. It also will include statistics and information on climate change and the environment, economic opportunity and social mobility, education, health and housing, all of which contribute to Latino well-being.
As it evolves, the hub will enable users to track progress and setbacks in efforts to ensure a more equitable nation for Latinos.
The importance of clear, reliable and actionable data on Latino communities has been demonstrated repeatedly by the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, particularly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past 18 months, the group has produced research reports focusing on safe access to voting, the costs of excluding undocumented workers from socioeconomic relief programs, and other critical issues.
“The global pandemic has laid bare long-standing inequities that permeate virtually all our systems and institutions,” said Ciciley Moore, program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. “It also opened a door of opportunity to correct this legacy of inequity, and now is the time to be proactive in building the future we want. Investing in the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative to provide cutting-edge data and research resources means investing in the future where equity is realized.”
The second database, the Latino Research Redistricting Hub, will include statistical, geographic and historical data and analyses to help illuminate how the drawing of state and federal electoral maps affects Latino communities. Redistricting impacts a wide range of issues, from the number of parks in a neighborhood to congressional representation, and the hub will be a resource for officials engaged in redistricting decisions. Its goal is to ensure fair representation in politics and government for the nation’s diverse Latino communities.
“Before we can address inequity, we must tell the truth about our conditions, and that is what data does,” Moore said. “We are proud to invest in creating tools that help us see our biggest challenges clearly and identify equitable solutions that enable us all to thrive.”
Other recent research by the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative has highlighted the growing political power of the Latino electorate and paths to creating long-term engagement among Latino voters. The initiative also helped secure court victories around voting rights in Texas and Pennsylvania and pushed for the creation of a Latino-focused Smithsonian museum.