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UCLA Scholars Earn Contract to Re-Envision Care for Young People in the Juvenile Legal System

Two UCLA professors will help California create standards of care for young people moved to county-run programs after the closure of the statewide juvenile prison system. With a three-year, $1 million contract from California Health & Human Services’ new state Office of Youth and Community Restoration, Laura Abrams of UCLA Luskin Social Welfare and Elizabeth Barnert of the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine will help design a program called Stepping Home. Its aim is to provide a suite of services and support for youth held accountable for serious crimes so that they may successfully rejoin their communities as thriving young adults. “We are working as consultants to the state to create and implement a more ideal, less harmful youth justice system,” said Barnert, who specializes in pediatrics. A state law enacted in 2020 led to the closure of California’s troubled juvenile corrections facilities, with hundreds of young people moved to their home counties to join camps, ranches and other supervised living arrangements. During this transition and into the future, Stepping Home will provide a framework of care that prioritizes community safety and creates an environment of healing, accountability and rehabilitation. Services will include physical and mental health care, educational and vocational programs, life skills training and gang intervention. The program will also promote evidence-based assessment tools for judges, probation officers, behavioral health providers, educators and community leaders so that they can partner with young people and their families to design effective individualized plans. Abrams and Barnert are longtime research collaborators whose work was recognized with a UCLA Public Impact Research Award in 2022.



Levy-Storms Receives Award to Create Community-Engaged Course on Aging

Lené Levy-Storms, associate professor of social welfare and geriatrics, is one of four UCLA faculty members selected to develop new classes that have an impact on Los Angeles and beyond, thanks to the fourth annual Chancellor’s Awards for Community-Engaged Scholars program. Levy-Storms will use the $10,000 award to develop “Frontiers in Human Aging: Biomedical, Psychosocial and Policy Perspectives,” a core course for the UCLA Luskin gerontology minor. The class will explore human aging through several disciplines: biology, physiology, sociology, anthropology, psychology, public health and policy. Levy-Storms will add a formal community engagement aspect focused on intergenerational interactions aimed at shattering ageism. “Students will learn things in this course that will be helpful for the rest of their and their families’ and friends’ lives,” Levy-Storms said. “My vision for the future is not just young students learning about older adults, but rather different generations relating to and communicating with one another, learning how to help each other thrive in whatever life stage they are — together.” Supported by the UCLA Office of the Chancellor and the UCLA Center for Community Engagement, the awards enable faculty members to enrich the university’s curriculum through courses featuring collaborative learning experiences with community partners. This year’s awards will lead to new classes offered during the 2024-25 or 2025-26 academic calendar.

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Fairlie’s Research Cited in White House Briefing on Tribal Small Businesses

A new policy briefing from the White House cites research by Robert Fairlie, professor of policy and economics. On June 26, the Biden-Harris Administration announced the first small-business grants in a program to provide $73 million in first-ever funding directly to tribal governments. The support for tribal enterprises and small businesses is part of Biden’s Investing in America agenda, which includes funding for manufacturing and infrastructure, plus cost-saving investments in communities across the country. Research relating to racial inequality in business by Fairlie, the incoming chair of UCLA Luskin Public Policy, is widely recognized as insightful by policymakers. The White House fact sheet cites his calculation that the number of Native-owned small businesses declined 40% in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Grant awardees include several tribes in California.


Public Policy Again Proves Its Mastery of All Things Trivial

Back under a tent on the Public Affairs Building’s roof after a three-year pandemic-related displacement, the June 1 battle of useless knowledge and quick-wittedness known as Super Quiz Bowl ended with a team from UCLA Luskin Public Policy again on top of the leader board. Just one point separated the top two groups, as five teams representing two graduate departments and the undergraduate program faced off against each other and a sixth team staffed by, um, staff. Here are the highlights from a post-event email sent to participants by organizer Christian Zarate, events and communications coordinator:

And the winners are … (drumroll please):

Team Competition

3rd Place: Street Smarties (Jin Zhang, Purva Kapshikar, Olivia Arena, Nick Stewart-Bloch, Adam Millard-Ball), Urban Planning

2nd Place: Brain Trust (Molly Hunt, Dinan Guan, Raquel Jackson-Stone, Donald Zelaya, Maura O’Neill), Public Policy

1st Place: Doing it for the Clout – for the second year in a row! (Abhilasha Bhola, Connie Kwong, Selene Betancourt, Jesse Ostroff, Mark Peterson), Public Policy

Hien McKnight won the individual competition this year on behalf of the Dean’s Office.

The winning graduate programs will receive funding for their Grad Night. The undergraduate program will receive funding for its Public Affairs Experiential Learning Internship Support scholarship. Again this year, funding was based on participation: 50% of the Super Quiz Bowl proceeds will be divided among the three departments that participated. Urban Planning took Audience Attendance, with Public Policy winning the other categories of Faculty/Staff/Alumni Attendance and Team Participation.

View photos from the event (and get inspired for next year’s competition) in this Flickr album:

Super Quiz Bowl 2023


Loya’s Research on Mortgage Disparities Bolstered by New LPPI Study

A new study released by the UCLA Latino Policy & Politics Institute finds that racial disparities persist in homeownership within Los Angeles County. The report, part of a larger research project led by UCLA Luskin Assistant Professor of Urban Planning José Loya, is based on an analysis of pre-pandemic data from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. It reveals that despite anti-discrimination laws and regulations, households of color continue to face significant barriers to accessing low-cost mortgage credit, hindering their path to homeownership and exacerbating a racial wealth gap. The report highlights the central role of homeownership in wealth creation in the United States and emphasizes how limited access impacts households of color. The report’s author is Miguel Miguel, an urban planning student who is among a group of first-generation Latino scholars at LPPI helping to provide a more nuanced understanding of the housing market and the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on racial disparities. Loya recently received two awards from LPPI that will support continuing research efforts aimed at improving the well-being of the country’s Latino population. “Dr. Loya’s research is a salient reminder that homeownership is not an option for the majority of Latinos because our creditworthiness is not equally valued by financial markets,” said Silvia R. González, a director of research at LPPI.


Yaroslavsky Memoir Offers Lessons for L.A. and Beyond

A newly published political memoir by Zev Yaroslavsky weaves tales from his life and family with a half-century arc of Los Angeles history, which he helped shape as a longtime fixture in the region’s civic life. “Zev’s Los Angeles: From Boyle Heights to the Halls of Power,” shares stories about Yaroslavsky’s early years as the son of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants, his entry into social activism as a young man, and his four decades serving on L.A.’s City Council and County Board of Supervisors before joining UCLA Luskin as director of the Los Angeles Initiative. While in public office, Yaroslavsky championed health care, transit, police accountability, fiscal stewardship, the arts and the environment in Los Angeles. The book, however, reaches beyond borders. “The stories I’m telling aren’t just vivid historical moments. Each one offers lessons about how to use power, how to make government listen to the people it serves, and how to bring about change — all without sacrificing one’s values or integrity,” Yaroslavsky writes. At a June 6 event at Royce Hall hosted by the UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy, Yaroslavsky discussed the book with UCLA Professors David Myers and Gary Segura and Alisa Belinkoff Katz, co-director of the Los Angeles Initiative. The conversation delved into how far the city has come, but also how the struggle continues against income inequality, homelessness, racial tension and other societal ills. “Zev’s Los Angeles” is dedicated to Yaroslavsky’s late wife, Barbara Edelstein Yaroslavsky, whose legacy is enshrined in her decades of community service “performed with grace, generosity and love.”

Listen to a conversation with Yaroslavsky on the Center for History and Policy’s “Then and Now” podcast.

View photos from the book event on Flickr.

'Zev's Los Angeles' Book Event


UCLA LPPI Hosts Policy Briefing at State Capitol

The UCLA Latino Policy & Politics Institute brought policy experts, advocates and state leaders together May 9 at the state Capitol for its fourth annual policy briefing to discuss critical issues affecting the Latino community. The session reflected UCLA LPPI’s commitment to strengthening the Latino presence at the Capitol and ensuring that state leaders know that every issue is a Latino issue. With over 20 legislative offices and community partners represented, the briefing served as an opportunity to hear directly from UCLA LPPI faculty experts covering COVID-19 recovery, housing insecurity and Medi-Cal expansion. Veronica Terriquez, director of the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center and a professor of urban planning at UCLA Luskin, kicked off the expert research presentations with a focus on the impact of COVID-19 on Latino youth as they transitioned to adulthood. UCLA LPPI faculty expert Melissa Chinchilla then presented on the growing crisis of Latino homelessness and offered policy recommendations to address some of the underlying issues with housing services. Arturo Vargas Bustamante, UCLA LPPI faculty director of research and professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, ended the day with a discussion of important implementation issues related to expanding Medi-Cal access to undocumented adults age 50 and older. The community briefing offered strong policy recommendations to create transformative change for the Latino community and other communities of color throughout the state of California. — Janine Shimomura

View photos and a highlight video from the policy briefing.


UCLA Luskin Graduate Students Named 2023-24 Bohnett Fellows

Three UCLA Luskin graduate students have been selected to participate in the prestigious Bohnett Fellowship Program for the 2023-24 academic year. The program, sponsored by the David Bohnett Foundation, provides UCLA Luskin students the opportunity to work in the L.A. Mayor’s Office while completing their graduate studies at UCLA. This year’s fellows — representing all three of the School’s graduate programs — are: India Woods, who is pursuing a joint public policy and social welfare degree, posted to the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety; urban planning student Jose Alvarez, who will be at the Mayor’s Office of Infrastructure (previously public works); and public policy student Nelowfar Ahmadi, who will work at the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “Every year we have three new Bohnett Mayoral Fellows with fresh ideas and innovative approaches who bring their Luskin training and passion for problem solving to City Hall,” said Michael Fleming, executive director of the David Bohnett Foundation. The Bohnett Fellows will travel to Washington, D.C., to attend the United States Conference of Mayor’s annual winter meeting to learn from and network with city leaders across the nation. They also have the opportunity to meet with Bohnett Fellows and staff from the University of Michigan and New York University. “The Bohnett Fellowship, well into its second decade, strengthens UCLA Luskin’s reputation as an exceptional school of public affairs, and it has become a model for fellowship programs that generate future public service leaders,” said Kevin Medina MPP/MSW ’16, director of the UCLA Luskin Office of Student Affairs and Alumni Relations. Since its inception, more than 50 UCLA Luskin students have completed the yearlong fellowship.


Strong Support in California for Black Reparations

A new UCLA report shows that a clear majority of Californians support reparations for Black residents harmed by the nation’s legacy of slavery. The analysis, based on a survey of more than 2,400 adults in California in the spring of 2022, is in contrast to a nationwide poll showing weak support for reparations. “This is a significant shift in public sentiment around reparations,” said Elliot Woods, one of the UCLA report’s authors. “Only two years ago, Americans recognized racial injustice in the U.S., but most did not support reparations. Now, most Californians are focused on how, not if, we enact reparations to address racial harms stemming from slavery and systemic issues of racial injustice and discrimination that continue to harm Black Americans.” UCLA Luskin Professor Michael Stoll, director of the Black Policy Project at the UCLA Bunche Center for African American Studies, co-authored the research with Master of Public Policy students Woods and Tyler Webb. Their survey measured support for 11 types of possible reparation measures, including cash payments, non-cash financial benefits such as business or education grants, and non-monetary remedies such as issuing a formal apology. The report highlights different levels of support among respondent groups sorted by age, gender, race and political affiliation. The survey is an outgrowth of a Black Policy Project research effort commissioned by the state-appointed California Reparations Task Force and published by the state Department of Justice. The new report will be shared with state legislators who will consider the task force’s recommendations about how to atone for the collective trauma caused by slavery.


Honors Project Takes a Deep Dive Into Pandemic Anxieties

Members of UCLA’s class of 2023 will be the first to graduate having spent most, if not all, of their academic years living through a pandemic — and all the uncertainties, anxieties, and physical and mental health challenges that has entailed. Among those graduates will be psychology major and public affairs minor Leah Likin, who mined these experiences for her highly original and deeply personal honors capstone project, which won a Dean’s Prize for Excellence in Research and Creativity as part of UCLA’s 10th annual Undergraduate Research Week. Likin’s struggles with mental health during the pandemic — which at their worst necessitated inpatient psychiatric treatment — served as a springboard for the ambitious project. In addition to more traditional research and data collection, Likin incorporated poetry, personal writing and an art installation created at UCLA’s high-tech MakerSpace workshop. Her project included interviews with 15 people, ranging in age from 20 to 86, about a number of topics, including COVID-19, mental health, climate change, perception of time and the use of smartphones. Likin said these conversations helped her unpack her own mental health burdens. “It was interesting to explore my sense of loss and my sense of belonging during that time, and also my growth and sense of identity,” she said. Her advisor was Ron Avi Astor, UCLA Luskin professor of social welfare. Likin said she was inspired by how Astor would often read his poetry about his family’s mental health struggles during the multidisciplinary undergraduate course “Creating Safe and Welcoming Schools.” — Madeline Adamo

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