Students Reflect on Experiences From Japan Yearly visits to Japan provide insight on reconstruction, education, and transportation

By Angel Ibañez
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

For the fourth consecutive year UCLA Luskin students visited Japan to learn about its unique culture and public policy perspective. The trip was organized by UCLA Luskin students and consisted of three groups that visited cities within three policy areas in Japan: reconstruction, education, and transportation & economy.

The 2015 Luskin Japan Trip Report collects the stories and experiences from thirty-nine students across the Public Policy, Social Welfare and Urban Planning departments that traveled to the region earlier this year. In the trip over Spring Break, groups of students toured the National Diet of Japan—the home of the Japanese legislature—ministries, and local schools. The trip spanned five days and covered six different cities and areas including Fukushima, Kyoto and Yamanashi.

 

Luskin Students and Professors Tackle the “Silver Tsumani” of Aging America The economics and logistics of an aging population presents one of the greatest challenges to social welfare

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By Adeney Zo
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

Gerontology and social welfare go hand in hand, and the intersection of these two fields may be the key to solving America’s future. As the largest living generation in America (the “Baby Boomers”) enters retirement age, there is a growing demand for professionals trained to work with the elderly.

“Many researchers are calling the aging of America’s population the “silver tsunami” because the demographics of the country are so dramatically shifting in the direction of 65+ age group,” said social welfare student and researcher Hayley Schleifstein.

At the Luskin School, student organizations like the Gerontology & Geriatrics Interest Group (GIG) and the Social Welfare Gerontology Caucus work to raise awareness and interest in working with the aged population. “My research interest is getting young people involved,” said Lia Marshall, a social welfare doctoral student. “I want to introduce them to this idea when they’re young and maybe 10 years from now, it might be their career.”

But the Baby Boomer generation is not the only large population in America – the current generation of Millenials (ages 18-34) are about to surpass the Baby Boomers in population size.

“This will be the first time in 150 years where there are as many individuals, 80 million, in Millenials as Baby Boomers,” said Social Welfare and Public Policy professor Fernando Torres-Gil.

For America, this statistic means that the same number of people will be simultaneously entering the work force and retiring – and that the Millenials will be funding social benefits (Social Security, Medicare, etc.) for the Baby Boomers while carrying the knowledge that those benefits may well be gone by their own retirement.

Professor Torres-Gil’s research tackles these difficult policy issues along with the political implications of aging. His work is aimed towards finding policy solutions for a large aging population and creating new structures of support for future generations. “There is no consensus about how to provide reasonable quality of life for the elderly,” said Torres-Gil. “These [issues] go right into the heart of policy, politics, and visceral concerns. People wonder: Who will take care of me when I’m old? Congress is divided because the public is divided.”

However, there may be hope for the future brewing at UCLA. “The good news is that UCLA has very active young people and clubs volunteering for senior programs. We even have an undergraduate minor in gerontology,” said Torres-Gil. “Once we educate people, they are much more open and interested.”

On April 9, the Luskin School hosted its first Careers in Aging Week event to highlight professional opportunities in gerontology as well as its importance to this generation. “Careers in Aging Week” is an annual, nationwide movement sponsored by the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) that draws attention to growing career opportunities with the aging population.

Valerie Coleman, an organizer for the Luskin Careers in Aging Week, entered Urban Planning with a distinct interest in working with the aging population. “When I came into the Luskin, my classmates were surprised at my interest,” said Coleman. “So last year, I coordinated an event with Luskin students about working with the aging population and how it will affect all our careers.”

This year, Coleman teamed up with Zoe Koehler, co-chair for the Gerontology Caucus, and Lia Marshall, co-coordinator for GIG, to coordinate an official Careers in Aging Week event.

“I was especially impressed at the varied turnout at our Networking event, in which a few business and economics students showed up,” said Koehler. “This goes to show that the issue of our aging society is and will be relevant to students of all disciplines.”

The UCLA event featured an afternoon panel with a multidisciplinary array of leaders in the field of aging and aging research, including Professor Torres-Gil. The panel was followed by a networking event that allowed for participants to interact with professionals from the field and discover the variety of opportunities connected to the aging population.

“Careers in Aging is an important event right now because by 2050, 1 out of 5 people will be over the age of 65,” said Koehler. “Whether UCLA students intentionally choose to go specifically into work with seniors or not, they will be working with seniors. We want to help prepare students for the reality of our rapidly shifting and aging demographic in this country.”

 

To learn more about gerontology at Luskin, visit the GIG website at:

http://uclagig.weebly.com/

 

 

 

Uber’s Whetstone to Speak at Commencement Rachel Whetstone, senior vice president of policy and communications for ride-sharing service Uber, will give the 2015 Commencement address

 

By Alejandra Reyes-Velarde
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

As the digital age continues to advance with implications across all areas of public life, UCLA Luskin searches for ways to increasingly integrate technology in its students’ understanding of policy, planning and social work.

Rachel Whetstone, senior vice president of policy and communications at Uber, will give her insight as a woman with experience in technology, communications and public policy during the 2015 Commencement Ceremony at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

Prior to her appointment at Uber this year, Rachel Whetstone served as senior vice president of communications and policy at Google since 2005. Formerly, Whetstone held posts in government in the United Kingdom, including service as Michael Howard’s chief of staff following his election to leadership of the conservative party.

In 2013, Whetstone was named one of the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom by “Woman’s Hour” on BBC radio.

When she joined Google in 2005, she became an advisor to CEO Larry Page and handled many of the company’s biggest policy issues including the recent anti-trust charges in Europe, according to Business Insider.

At Uber she will face similar challenges related to policy and public relations, including challenges to Uber’s business model from taxi companies and aggressive expansion plans, according to Re/Code.

The UCLA Luskin commencement ceremony will be held in Royce Hall on Friday, June 12, at 9 am.

 

Leap Honors Dads in ‘Project Fatherhood’ In her new book, Social Welfare professor Jorja Leap tells stories of former gang members who have decided to commit to their roles as fathers

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By Adeney Zo
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

In her first book, Jumped In, Social Welfare professor Jorja Leap told the story of her life as a “ganster anthropologist,” and an observer and advocate for the young men and women caught up in the life of gangs. Her new book, Project Fatherhood, is about the life that some of these men have chosen to live after leaving the streets—as fathers to their sons. In an environment where involved fathers were hard to find, these men are committed to changing the dynamic for their children.

Leap sat down for this Q&A in advance of the book’s release party on Thursday, June 4.

How did you first become involved with Project Fatherhood?

I’ve known Mike Cummings [co-facilitator of Project Fatherhood] for 15 years. I wrote about him in my first book, and he called me about this group he was starting  with the Children’s Institute. They needed a social worker to co-lead the group, so I literally jumped at the chance. I have been actively involved as a social worker and researcher, trying to help people all of my life.

What made you interested specifically in the Watts community and this project?

I got my MSW at UCLA in 1978 and started working in Watts. I see it as the community I belong to—my parents are from South LA and I was born and raised there for part of  my life. I’m committed to it.

How does Project Fatherhood work differently from other gang intervention programs? What makes it effective?

It’s completely different, especially in its development. Without any organization or guidance, these are former gang members who wanted to reach out [to their children] and be fathers. We all know that the absence of fathers is a huge youth risk factor that leads to a lot of problems in school and community-based activities. It’s a terrible burden for young people that affects them throughout their lives. Project Fatherhood is more like a gang prevention program. Youth with incarcerated fathers find father mentors [through Project Fatherhood], which softens the cycle of life for the next generation. This is also a way for men who were former gang members to father one another. They all grew up without fathers, and now they are helping each other learn to be fathers. It’s so incredible to witness and be part of this for 4 years.

One of the key research findings is the kind of strong leadership that already existed in community. If we are looking at how to rebuild communities in the future, we need leadership that comes from within the community.

How does this book differ from Jumped In?

Jumped In is about what studying gangs taught me. It was very personal. I discussed raising my own child, so it was a memoir as well as a humanizing story of gang members. This book [Project Fatherhood] is about the project—there’s a little about me but mostly it’s about them and the issue of poverty.

Working in the field, teaching at UCLA, and publishing a book each have a different scope of impact. What sort of impact do you hope to make with Project Fatherhood, and what do you hope readers will ultimately take away from the book?

My goal is that the program will be funded and supported. All the proceeds from the book go to Project Fatherhood, the men who really deserve this kind of funding.  I want the stories of these men to be out in the world. We also need to build leadership in the community, and we have to be the support for what exists in that community. UCLA Luskin plays an important role in this—the role of wanting to support and conduct research within these communities. It’s wonderful to be here and be part of a program working to build that kind of community strength.

I want readers to understand what the experience of these men is truly like, who these men are as human beings. I want to show the “new Jim Crow,” this issue of men of color being incarcerated for long periods of time, and what it cost them, their family and community. I also want people to have hope as they read and see how devoted these men are—this is not a problem story, but a hope story. I want to show that strength and dedication is out there.

How did the fathers react to your decision to write a book about them?

I was a little bit worried when I brought it up, but they were very positive, very proud and excited. In the past when I did Jumped In, I worked carefully to disguise the interviewee’s identities. As I interviewed the fathers [from Project Fatherhood] and asked how they felt about being named, they all said, “Don’t worry, you can use our names. Tell the truth.” They were so honest and so open in wanting to share. It was an overwhelming experience, seeing how meaningful their commitment was to the program.

The truth is, I always felt like I belonged in Watts, and this project strengthened my attachment, belief and commitment. People who read the book will understand that we [the fathers and I] had big fights—it was not all sunshine and roses. We really struggled, but we were very open about how we made each other angry. I could have never imagined that through the past four years, this closeness and understanding would develop.

How can the public contribute to a solution for gang violence and poverty in communities like Watts? Do you recommend any programs or resources that offer the chance for people to take action?

I am hoping to bring support for the programs that already exist, that are there and are working. I hope this book will help leadership development and economic development. These are good fathers, good providers who want jobs. They don’t want to raise kids on the county and public support—they want to make a living. It’s quite striking; many people think they want to live on welfare, but that is the farthest thing from the truth.

As part of the UCLA Luskin faculty, I will be sponsoring a book party on June 4. This is an all-day event, and we’re even bringing youth from Watts to tour UCLA and work out with the football team. Copies of the book will be available before the release date on June 9, or Father’s Day. [The event] is really not about me, but the fathers who will be there to speak about their experiences. I really urge the UCLA community to come out and hear their voices.

Dean Gilliam Named Chancellor of UNC-Greensboro After seven years at UCLA Luskin's helm, Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., will step down to lead the East Coast university in the fall

 

The following message was sent to the UCLA community today from Chancellor Gene D. Block:

To the UCLA Community:

I am sad to announce the departure of Frank Gilliam, dean of the Luskin School of Public Affairs and a longtime faculty member, but I am very proud to share the news that he has been named chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. His appointment is effective Sept. 8.

A visionary leader, skilled administrator and renowned scholar of public policy and politics, Frank has been instrumental in advancing UCLA’s civic engagement through community partnerships and research addressing some of society’s most pressing problems.

After being named dean in 2008, Frank shepherded a transformative $50 million gift that named the school in honor of our generous donors Meyer and Renee Luskin. With Frank’s guidance, the Luskin School of Public Affairs has ascended on a new trajectory of influence in research and innovation in education. Under Frank, the Luskin School has focused on identifying some of our world’s most vexing issues – such as immigration, drug policy, transportation, national security, health care financing and the environment – and establishing itself as a leader in addressing them. Through the Leadership Initiative, Frank expanded opportunities for students to interact directly with policy leaders, helping to prepare them for real-world challenges in public service. In the new Global Public Affairs program, students and faculty study problems that cross international borders and explore solutions that require a global perspective.

Even before being appointed dean, Frank championed UCLA’s civic engagement. He created the UCLA Center for Community Partnerships and served as associate vice chancellor of community partnerships from 2002 to 2008, forging academic and community collaborations to improve the quality of life throughout Los Angeles. In large part because of Frank, UCLA earned its first Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement classification. Frank’s impassioned commitment to the cause helped make him an ideal choice to lead the Luskin School, which is dedicated to public service through scholarship that informs public policy and teaching that prepares future civic leaders.

I share Frank’s dedication to public engagement. His success in that arena was one reason I chose him, in 2013, as a special adviser to develop a framework for UCLA’s civic involvement in our region – a framework that is now being strategically implemented.

Frank joined UCLA’s faculty in 1986, and he now holds appointments in political science and public policy. His scholarship focuses on elections and political campaigns, with an emphasis on racial and ethnic politics, and how strategic communications shape public policy. Frank is frequently interviewed about these and other subjects by top news outlets. His work is published in many leading academic journals, and he is the author of Farther to Go: Readings and Cases in African-American Politics. Frank also was founding director of the UCLA Center for Communications and Community and he held leadership positions at the UCLA Center for American Politics and Public Policy.

Befitting his scholarship and his commitment to civics, Frank helped establish the FrameWorks Institute, which publishes research to further public understanding of social issues and aid nonprofits. He is a senior fellow at the institute, which this year earned a MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. Frank also serves as chair of the Blue Shield of California board of trustees and is on the boards of the United Way of Greater Los Angeles and Southern California Grantmakers.

Frank has made an indelible mark on UCLA through our strengthened relationships with partners in the communities we serve. His deanship has elevated the Luskin School to a new level of excellence and helped to prepare thousands of students to become leaders working to enhance the lives of others. By any measure, Frank has had a profound impact on our campus as well as communities throughout the Los Angeles and across the nation.

I am proud to have him as a colleague and am confident he will enjoy continued success leading the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Please join me in congratulating Frank and wishing him well in this new chapter of his career.

We are fortunate to have many strong leaders at the Luskin School, and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Scott Waugh and I intend to appoint an interim dean very soon and then conduct a search for a successor. We are grateful for the clear path Frank has set at the Luskin School, and we are well-positioned to continue UCLA’s broader efforts to serve as a valuable resource for the community – work that is essential to our mission as a public university.

Sincerely,

Gene D. Block

Chancellor

 

Board of Advisors Member Reynolds Receives Honorary Doctorate Vicki Renolds recognized for her philanthropic work

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By Angel Ibañez
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

UCLA Luskin board member Vicki Reynolds was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by The American Jewish University for her philanthropy and civic leadership at the university’s 65th annual commencement ceremony May 17..

Reynolds is extensively involved in advocating for education through her involvement as president of the Beverly Hills Board of Education and as a member of the California State Board of Education. Reynolds is also a Trustee of the California State Summer School for the Arts, serves on the regional Board of the American Jewish Committee, the Board of Directors of The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts and is a staunch supporter of women’s and civil rights. She is a member of UCLA Luskin’s Board of Advisors.

Reynolds also served three terms as mayor of Beverly Hills and was elected the City Council for twelve consecutive years.

As a result of her leadership, the city purchased The Historic Beverly Post Office from the Federal Government and led to the creation of The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.

Reynolds has been recognized for her work by the Maple Counseling Center and the UCLA Alumni Association, which named Reynolds Alumnus of the Year in 2002.

She has been awarded the Legion D’Honneur, the French government’s highest honor given to a foreign citizen.

A graduate of UCLA, Reynolds earned her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from UCLA and a Degree Superieur from La Sorbonne at The University of Paris.

Transportation and Connectivity at Luskin Lecture Series U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx discussed the ways transportation builds community at a Luskin Lecture Series event

[<a href=”//storify.com/UCLALuskin/u-s-transportation-sec-anthony-foxx-delivers-luski” target=”_blank”>View the story “U.S. Transportation Sec. Anthony Foxx speaks at Union Station” on Storify</a>]

75 Percent of L.A. County Water Systems Vulnerable to Drought

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Despite the importance of potable water to the quality of life, economy, and ecosystems in Los Angeles County, surprisingly little is known about the 228 government and private entities that deliver water, and how vulnerable or resilient they are to withstanding pressures from droughts and climate change. A new study by the UCLA Luskin Center fills this gap and finds that 75% of community drinking water systems in L.A. County exhibit at least one indicator of supply vulnerability due either to dependency on a single type of water source, local groundwater contamination, small size, or a projected increase in extreme heat days over the coming decades.

The Luskin Center’s Los Angeles County Community Water System Atlas and Policy Guide Volume I presents a high-level view of the drinking water systems that serve L.A. County based on in-depth system-level profiles of water sources, service population characteristics, and built environments. This is the most complete, publicly accessible set of maps ever created of L.A. County’s community drinking water systems, which range from major municipal water providers like the L.A. Department of Water and Power, to small utilities serving mobile home parks and remote communities.

The Water Atlas highlights both the County’s vulnerable water systems and the more resilient water systems, based on an investigation of all community water systems that provide drinking water to LA County consumers. Findings of vulnerability include:

  • Over a third of the water systems serving L.A. County (79 out of 228 water systems) are 100% dependent on groundwater, an indicator of vulnerability because water systems that rely solely on groundwater may exhaust critical supplies during droughts, are challenged by the presence of local contamination, and have fewer supply alternatives compared to systems with a diversified water supply portfolio. Most of these systems serve small communities in northern LA County, where groundwater withdrawals are not regulated.
  • Of every county in the state, L.A. County has the greatest number of community water systems that rely on contaminated groundwater sources: nearly 40% of community water providers in LA County got their water from a groundwater source that exceeded drinking water Maximum Contaminant Levels at least once over the period of 2002-2010.
  • L.A. County is home to nearly 100 very small and small community water systems (serving 3,300 or fewer residents year-round) located in both urban and rural areas. These smaller systems often lack the technical, managerial, and financial capacity to withstand the impact of severe drought conditions and overcome water quality and treatment challenges.
  • Communities in Azusa, Covina, and El Monte may see over 30 additional days with surface temperatures over 95 °F by 2050, increasing water demand for residential landscapes, public green spaces, and agricultural uses, if these uses are retained.

The state is experiencing its fourth consecutive year of severe drought conditions and new sources of funding are now available for drinking water systems through Proposition 1 and emergency drought relief assistance. Managers of these state funding programs supporting access to safe drinking water and drought resiliency may use this Water Atlas to identify at-risk drinking water systems and disadvantaged populations that have the most to gain from state financial and technical assistance. Policymakers and researchers may use this report to evaluate impacts of state and federal water policies on specific community drinking water systems.

This report is the first in a series of three volumes dedicated to expanding knowledge of drinking water systems in L.A. County, with respect to policies, practices, risks, and opportunities. The approach used in this report is easily scalable and could be applied to every county in the state to inform water policymakers and researchers in California.

The report is available for viewing or download online.

Social Welfare student to present at the Summer Colloquium for Social, Economic and Environmental Equity Christina Tam will discuss racial, economic, and social inequalities

 

By Alejandra Reyes-Velarde

Luskin Student Writer

Social Welfare’s Christina Tam was recently one of 10 doctoral students from across the country to be selected to be a part of the Summer Colloquium for Social, Economic and Environmental Equity. The Colloquium will be held at the Boston College School of Social work and will be hosted by professors David Takeuchi and Ruth McRoy.

At the event, Tam will present her dissertation and contribute to ideas addressing racial, economic, social and environmental inequalities. Her dissertation examines Los Angeles County by ethnicity to better understand each ethnic minority’s circumstances within the juvenile justice system.

Last year, Tam was one of many students to present academic papers for the Society for Social Work and Research conference, during which she talked about two of her papers regarding juvenile delinquency studies. Through her research, Tam has explored gender differences in crime, how formerly incarcerated adults find social support and the overrepresentation of Southeast Asians in the American justice system.

 

 

Planners of Color for Social Equity host 3rd annual Youth Conference ELARA students showed growth in their return to Luskin for the Urban Planning Youth Empowerment Conference.

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By Alejandra Reyes-Velarde

Luskin Student Writer

A helicopter hovered over Jesus Palalia’s neighborhood, shining the light over him as he walked home from working with his mom. He recalls the frightening experience as normal when he was younger, growing up in a ‘ghetto’ neighborhood.

Now, an 11th grade student at the East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy (ELARA), Palalia is thinking about a career in youth criminology, inspired by what he has learned through the Urban Planning Youth Empowerment Conference held by the Planners of Color for Social Equity, or PCSE, at UCLA Luskin. This is his third time attending the conference.

Palalia said that though he doesn’t think he wants to pursue urban planning as a career, he enjoys learning about it because it has exposed him to new ideas about his community. Palalia said he thinks the conference has shown him how communities and bad neighborhoods can affect youth.

“I like that I get to be creative and work with other people,” Palalia said.

ELARA is one of three high schools in the nation with a focus on urban planning and design that participate in the conference each year.

The conference aims to spark high school students’ interest in urban planning, urging them to question their surroundings and giving them the knowledge to better understand the subject. Since its first year in 2013, the conference has grown and made a stronger impact for students who now make their second and third visits to UCLA for the conference.

In a series of workshops, students now quickly write lists of residential, industrial, commercial and institutional areas on a white paper, not forgetting to include areas that serve underrepresented communities. Students write down the words ‘temporary shelters,’ and ‘community centers,’ planning where to place them on a map outlined by tape on the floor. In workshops, students independently think about the placement of each building, making sure to separate residential areas from industrial and thinking about what would serve the community the best.

Annette Moreno, a 9th grade English teacher, said she noticed students were more engaged at this year’s event.

“(In the past) students wouldn’t know what to say,” Moreno said. “Now they are really engaged and they have more experience.”

Diana Diaz, a counselor at the event, said she was surprised to learn new things about her community from the conference and the students, who discussed things such as food deserts and the pollution in their communities after the conference was over.

Edber Macedo, a first-year urban planning student and co-chair of the PCSE, and a three-year volunteer on the conference project, said he became interested in the organization because of his interactions with the students.

Though the organization aims to empower youth, Macedo said the students have been able to teach volunteers and urban planning students more about the lived experiences of the problems they try to solve.

“You forget you’re talking to high school students. They are really bright,” Macedo said, recalling his surprise as he would have conversations with the students.

When asking students what types of things they would like to see in their neighborhoods, Macedo said students responded by saying they want more green space, 24-hour fitness centers and Starbucks, giving him a different perspective about the way urban planning approaches communities.

“It’s amazing to have students from underrepresented communities to come and learn about urban planning through a critical lens,” he said.

Macedo said he also wants PSCE to aim to improve access to graduate school for underrepresented students. When he talks to the students about graduate school, Macedo said he sees they’re already concerned about not being able to afford it and not feeling like they would fit in.

“We want to demystify the college experience,” he said. “That’s why we have this conference at UCLA. To show students that in a couple of years, they can physically be here.”

Jiovani Huerta, an 11th grade student who participated, said he enjoys seeing the campus and learning about each building in terms of urban planning.

“UCLA is a great university,” Huerta said “Once you come here, you can be someone great.”

Though students have enjoyed the youth conference and have shown improvement in just three years, teachers said they want to see the program grow from being an isolated event to extending throughout the school year.

“In most cases, this doesn’t come back into the classroom,” Diaz said. “It would be good to have after-school programs or training for teachers to bring urban planning into the classroom.”