The grassroots organization People for People (Gente por Gente) LA grew organically with the help of UCLA students to respond to the needs of the community, particularly during COVID-19. Find out how researchers, Dr. Leigh-Anna Hidalgo and Rosanna Simons, at UCLA along with community members are making a difference and how you can get involved.

Interview Chapters:

0:53 – Initial Involvement with People for People (Gente por Gente)

3:59 – Genesis and Purpose of People for People LA

6:44 – Stories of Students and Community Volunteers Helping the Elderly

10:59 – How to Get Involved

 

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By Dr. Celia Lacayo, Associate Director of Community Engagement, Division of Social Sciences

Commander Robert Hill is the Vice Chair of the UCLA Naval Science Department and a student in the Executive MBA Program at UCLA Anderson School of Management. He is a double Bruin as he received his undergraduate degree from UCLA in Biology (’96) where he participated in the Naval ROTC and earned his commission as an Officer in the Navy.

Commander Hill has an impressive record of military service, particularly with the Navy’s Submarine Force. He is out at sea for three months at a time. He served on the USS Nebraska (SSBN 739) for his first assignment for three years, then earned a graduate degree in the applied physics of Sonar at the Naval Postgraduate School. He has conducted various tours in Hawaii and San Diego where he oversaw ship planning and intel operations. He rose up the ranks to Executive Officer, second-in-command, on the USS Columbus (SSN 762). Afterwards, he specifically led submarine tactical development in the Pacific for six years where he tested new technology in the area of weapon and sensor deployment.

Currently in his second year in the UCLA EMBA program, Commander Hill says the biggest strength of the program is the quality of the students who contribute so much to the discussions, because they come from all backgrounds and walks of life. One of the current projects he is working on is part of his culmination thesis where a group of five students are partnered with a community organization and are given a real-life problem to solve. His group is specifically working with the Chief Information Officer for the City of Santa Monica on a business exploratory project. Commander Hill has used his prior military experience to make huge advances in the project and solidify strong relationships with city agents.

Commander Hill has also made an impact in higher education as a Commander in the NROTC and a lecturer of courses at USC and UCLA. He expresses that it is very important for him to give back and does so by mentoring other military college students. His time at UCLA has been special in part because, as he states, “UCLA emphasizes and supports veterans very strongly.”

Commander Hill has made a wonderful life here in Los Angeles where he resides with his wife and fellow Bruin, Darlene Hill, a fifth-grade teacher with LAUSD.

 

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UCLA alum Karina Ramos (’99) an attorney at Immigrant Defenders Law Center represents many immigrant children seeking asylum. She discusses the need for more attorneys to advocate for children’s rights. With COVID-19, the U.S. immigration courts have mostly halted the timeline for their proceedings, significantly delaying progress, often with devastating consequences for the children. 

Interview Chapters:

0:50 – What type of work does Immigrant Defenders Law Center do?

1:28 – What’s your role?

2:36 – Legal Representation & Advocacy for Immigrant Children

5:39 – Specific Cases (“Alex”)

11:07 – Impact of COVID-19 on Court Cases and Children’s Future

15:50 – Support for Child Asylum Seekers

 

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LRW Group, a local marketing services firm and UCLA Division of Social Sciences community partner, was a key contributor to the Los Angeles County COVID-19 study that sought to find the true spread of the virus in the county through serological testing. Led by UCLA alum, chairman and CEO Dave Sackman, LRW Group partnered with USC and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health by identifying and recruiting a representative sample of LA residents to participate in the study. The findings released last week suggest infections from the new coronavirus are far more widespread, and the fatality rate is much lower here in LA County than previously thought.

LRW Group formed a partnership with the UCLA Division of Social Sciences in 2019. The partnership created a dedicated UCLA staff position tasked with recruiting undergraduates and graduate students for paid summer internships in data science. The initiative will support a proposed major in Data and Society in the division and feature support workshops and roundtables in social data science, as well as guest lectures by LRW leadership and employees.

According to Dean Darnell Hunt:

“LRW’s commitment will seed our efforts to establish a pipeline of underrepresented students into the new Data and Society major we are developing as part of the division’s larger big data initiative. Along with this generous and important contribution, LRW also has pledged to offer paid internships to some of our most promising students, creating an opportunity for them to envision future careers and gain workplace experience that enhances their academic pursuits at UCLA.”

 

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Photo Credit: Tony Webster from Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States – Closed Due to Health Crisis, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=88247255

By Eli R. Wilson, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of New Mexico

It is impossible to locate a part of our society that has not been profoundly affected by the current pandemic, as we lurch from health crisis to economic crisis to labor crisis to community crisis—and back again.

The U.S. service sector remains at the epicenter of the crisis. The California Restaurant Association recently issued a dire warning that 30% of restaurants in the state will close without dramatic government intervention. In a letter to the governor, the group argues that the recent federal aid package is a Band-Aid that will not prevent permanent closures. Hundreds of thousands of restaurant workers have already filed for unemployment, and anticipated job losses in the industry are running as high as 7 million. The Restaurant Opportunity Center (ROC), a worker advocacy group, is one of several organizations that have set up an emergency relief fund to help the most desperate families.

The effects of the pandemic on the restaurant industry has been uneven, with a much larger impact on small businesses and vulnerable workers. On the business side, many of the immediate closures are mom-and-pop restaurants, which are disproportionately owned by immigrants and people of color. Restaurants operate on razor-thin 5–10% profit margins even in good times, so many smaller restaurants make just enough money to stay afloat month to month. The $2 trillion federal aid package will supposedly reach these types of businesses, but accounting for inevitable processing delays and the continuation of government-mandated closures across the country, it may be too little, too late.

Among restaurant employees, undocumented workers find themselves in particularly dire straits. Without proper work authorization, these individuals cannot seek federal assistance, including funds from the federal aid package, despite being laid off and having paid into the taxes that are funding that aid. Prior to the pandemic, the industry’s millions of undocumented workers were already a largely invisible group employed mainly in physically taxing back-of-the-house jobs with low wages and few benefits. Reduced work hours and widespread layoffs will push many to grapple with the inability to meet their family’s basic needs and nowhere to turn for help but friends and relatives in equally precarious situations.

At the same time, the most dramatic relative impacts on restaurant workers are on front-of-the-house workers, who tend to be young, white, and middle-class. Socially speaking, this is not an at-risk group. Yet because of the structure of their jobs, the pandemic is nothing short of an employment Armageddon for the nation’s nearly 4 million servers, bartenders, baristas, hosts, and cashiers. Front-of-the-house employees’ work schedules are directly related to customer traffic; fewer customers mean fewer hours of work in the dining room. Also, front-of-the-house workers rely heavily on tips for their income. Normally, these workers expect that a steady stream of diners will pad their low hourly wages, and servers and bartenders at higher-end restaurants can make $15-30 per hour in tips on top of their base wages. So even if some restaurants are able to maintain employee payroll during this period, without customers or tips, these workers will find themselves among the lowest-paid in the country.

A few restaurants are staying busy through a mixture of the right business model (quick-serve, takeout) and the resources to adjust to the months-long closure of dining room service. But neither describes the majority of sit-down restaurants, especially small ones. At best, this is the end of a golden age for restaurants in terms of growth and profits (one that weathered the 2007–2009 Great Recession relatively well). At worst, this crisis has laid bare a broken industry paradigm with no safety net for millions of workers and left small restaurants fighting for their survival.

We need to push for federal and state-level aid crafted by policy makers in collaboration with restaurant industry leaders to ensure that aid is distributed both efficiently and equitably. A significant portion of this money should be flagged for small businesses trying to meet operating expenses and employee payroll. Temporary policy changes can help too, such as recent city-level decisions to allow restaurants to sell groceries and to-go alcohol (with the appropriate liquor license). On an individual level, every consumer who is financially able should do their part to support their local restaurants as much as possible. Buy takeout regularly from these establishments, tip delivery people well, purchase gift cards. We want to ensure that when the effects of this pandemic subside, our neighborhood gathering places and those who work in them are able to rebound as quickly as possible.

 

Eli Revelle Yano Wilson is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of New Mexico. He received his PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles, and is a former research affiliate with the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. Dr. Wilson studies labor dynamics within the U.S. restaurant and the craft beer industries. His first book, Front of the House, Back of the House: Race and Inequality in the Lives of Restaurant Workers, will be released this fall through NYU Press.

 

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The LA Social Science e-forum interviewed UCLA Department of Communication alum, Michael Allen, ’86. During this interview, LA Social Science learned more about Mr. Allen’s LA Social Science Story.

LA Social Science would like to thank Mr. Allen for allowing us to learn about his story and the advising work he continues to do in support of the Division of Social Sciences.

What is your LA Social Science Story?

By Janna Shadduck-Hernández, Project Director, and Marisol Granillo Arce, Graduate Student Researcher

UCLA Labor Center

On October 24, 2019, filmmakers, photographers, poets, and musicians of color presented their original works on the resilience and power of immigrant working families in Los Angeles. The exhibit, including photos and short film presentations, is an initiative of the UCLA Labor Center’s Parent Worker Project, an applied research project that lifts up low-wage working parents as experts on their children’s education and communities.

Working Families in Focus is the first photo exhibit and film shorts program directed by Los Angeles artists of color to capture the lives of janitors, garment and domestic workers at their unions or worker centers, along with their children. Wil Prada, UCLA alum, filmmaker, and photographer, curated the exhibit highlighting nine themes: 1) The Parent Worker Project, 2) Unions and Worker Centers, 3) Tutoring, 4) Accessing Institutions of Higher Learning: A Public University Belongs to the Public, 5) Working-Class Parents Care about Children’s Education, 6) What Motivates Me Is My Children, 7) Parents as First Teachers, 8) Celebrating and Recognizing Parents’ Efforts, and 9) Connecting Communities. Parents, children, workers, artists, musicians, and filmmakers came together to share their common experiences and give visibility and dignity to the contributions of low-wage working families.

The UCLA Labor Center obtained a grant in 2014 from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation for an initiative to focus on early education activities with local janitors and their children through Building Skills Partnership and SEIU-United Service Workers West. We documented the project’s success in “Janitors are Parents Too! Promoting Parent Advocacy in the Labor Movement,” a chapter in the Beacon Press publication Lift Us Up, Don’t Push Us Out!: Voices from the Front Lines of the Educational Justice Movement. As a result, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation renewed its commitment to support similar programming with low-wage garment and domestic workers and their children. Using a train-the-trainer model, the second phase of the project trained parent workers to confidently talk with their peers about navigating the school system and accessing community resources such as libraries, museums, financial institutions, and specialized programs, putting parents at the center of current public education reform and leadership advocacy efforts.

As a compliment to the project, the team organized a formal tutoring project through which selected UCLA undergraduate students received scholarships to tutor garment and domestic workers’ children while the children’s parents participated in adult education classes and training sessions.

The Working Families in Focus exhibit took place at the UCLA Labor Center’s downtown community site and was sponsored by the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Los Angeles Garment Worker Center, IDEPSCA-Mujeres en Acción, Building Skills Partnership, and the UCLA Center for Mexican Studies. Please come to the UCLA Labor Center at 675 S. Park View Street to view this powerful exhibit, or contact Janna Shadduck-Hernández at jshernandez@irle.ucla.edu for further information.

Janna Shadduck-Hernández, Ed.D. is a project director at the UCLA Labor Center and teaches for the UCLA labor studies major and in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. Her research and teaching focus on developing culturally relevant, participatory educational models with first- and second-generation university students, community members, and youth. Her research and policy work also examine the organizing efforts of low-wage immigrant workers to combat labor and workplace violations.

Marisol Granillo Arce is a graduate student researcher with the Labor Center’s Parent Worker project and a UCLA MSW and MPH candidate. She is also a trained facilitator of the Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors bilingual curriculum to promote early childhood parent engagement to advance the long-term academic success of low-income K-12 students.

The UCLA Department of Communication proudly announces rolling out their new PhD program where the first cohort will begin with the 2020-2021 academic year. The department will be sure to attract the best and the brightest since the undergraduate program is robust and students flock to that major. The expertise the faculty hold within the department and across the campus will offer the graduate students plenty of opportunities to shape their research in innovative ways. The department anticipates that the doctoral students will do well on the job market both in academia and the private sector. They have already seen this with the the assistance of UCLA alum Michael Allen who helped market the program using industry standards that culminated into this VIDEO.

This partnership started through the department’s longstanding relationship and sponsorship of the undergraduate UCLA Bruin Advertising and Marketing Team that competes nationally. Students like Felician Crisostomo, who are on team, also partook in the marketing of this new program. Crisostomo spoke about how this was one of the most exciting and rich experiences he has had at UCLA.

He was contacted by Dr. Kerri Johnson, Interim Vice Chair, this past spring quarter to aid with the project and connected him with Mr. Allen. They took the summer to put together a 5-minute video. Part of the project was for Crisostomo to really get to know the expertise within the department. He was most impressed with visiting professors’ labs and classes and witnessed how different methods are utilized to advance the field. Crisostomo noted that by working side by side with a person who has been an expert in the field with 20 years of experience allowed him to gain many transferable skills.

In particular, Crisostomo appreciated being part of the decision-making process by assisting with the images and messaging for the video. Crisostomo said, “It was exciting, because we got to work with Mike [Allen] an industry expert in marketing and pick his brain about the campaign along with Paul [Connor] for the video. I got first-hand experience with the manuscript, messaging and the actually filing of the video.”

Crisostomo believes that this experience has enabled him to be a more competitive member of the Bruin Marketing and Advertising campus organization and prepared him for work beyond the university.

This process is reflective of the types of expertise the department holds which bridges the expertise of the alumni and community partners to give its students a more comprehensive and suitable experience. Crisostomo has come to understand all the benefits and advantages of the PhD program, so much so, that he himself is seriously considering applying for the program. “Prior to this I never considered anything after undergraduate, but learning more about the program has opened me up to graduate school and [how it’s] applicable in my industry. It has broadened my views on opportunities that are out there.”

Dr. Kerri Johnson shares the excitement for the new program that arises from a department that produces cutting-edge research in three areas: cognitive, political, and computational. She shares that the faculty realized that given the work that the department does alongside their alumni and community partners that a premiere PhD program would inevitably come to fruition. The department is growing with the arrival of three new faculty members that will be available to the first incoming cohort. Dr. Johnson said that this program would provide world-class graduate training based on an interdisciplinary approach that includes multi-method training. Dr. Johnson was very excited to also work with Mr. Allen and Mr. Crisostomo in a collective manner.  She stated, “The team reported to me what we needed for the print material and the video in order to best advertise the new PhD program. Paul is a fantastic videographer that made a difference.”

We anticipate this PhD program will attract a diverse and competitive group of students and will yield cutting edge research that will impact academia and influence different industries. Interested applicants will need to submit their application by December 15.

The UCLA Asian American Studies Department, the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, and the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON), are very pleased to announce their conference commemorating the 50th anniversary of Asian American Studies at UCLA — “Power to the People”: 50 Years of Bridging Research with Community. 

We hope you can attend as diverse and inter-generational communities are brought together to appreciate the legacies, genealogies, and futures of Asian American studies and communities. We hope you connect with many people and organizations at the event.  With community engagement at the heart of the field, we strive to strengthen the connection between the university and community-based organizations. We encourage you to discover how to bridge research and theory with our communities, as well as how to find ways to engage with current movements and issues.

Also, be sure to check out “UCLA: Our Stories, Our Impact,” a multimedia traveling exhibit sharing the stories of Bruins who have advanced equity and equality in America, that will be shown in the lobby of the Tateuchi Democracy Forum as well as in UCLA Luskin Commons Room 3383. Learn more about the exhibit at “Our Stories, Our Impact.”

Let us continue to build the power of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and work towards our collective futures – rooted in our histories, furthered by our communal experiences and research, and strengthened by our visions of social justice.

For more information on the conference, including registration, please visit aasc.ucla.edu/aasc50/conf19/.  The event is free and open to the public.  Space is limited, so be sure to register before the conference is full.

The Bedari Foundation, established by philanthropists Jennifer and Matthew C. Harris, has given $20 million to the UCLA College to establish the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute.

The institute, which is housed in the division of social sciences, will support world-class research on kindness, create opportunities to translate that research into real-world practices, and serve as a global platform to educate and communicate its findings. Among its principal goals are to empower citizens and inspire leaders to build more humane societies.

“In the midst of current world politics, violence and strife, the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute seeks to be an antidote,” said Darnell Hunt, dean of the UCLA division of social sciences. “Rooted in serious academic work, the institute will partner and share its research on kindness broadly in accessible formats. The Bedari Foundation’s extraordinary gift is truly visionary and we are grateful for its support and leadership.”

“The mission of the Kindness Institute perfectly aligns with that of the division of social sciences, where engaging the amazing diversity and social challenges shaping Los Angeles routinely inspires research that has the potential to change the world,” Hunt said.

To read the full UCLA Newsroom press release, click HERE.