Single-mom and full-time SEIU-USWW Janitor Jenny Meija and her two sons pictured with a computer provided by Building Skills Partnership’s digital equity initiatives.

By Lucy González, Graduate Student Researcher; Sophia L. Ángeles, Graduate Student Researcher; Janna Shadduck-Hernández, Project Director, UCLA Labor Center

There is no doubt the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on families. Low-wage essential workers, such as janitors, have been hit particularly hard. The work demands placed on janitors dramatically increased as new safety standards were instated by 2020 COVID-19 protocols. Front-line janitors were at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, and their families also faced serious financial challenges due to job loss and reduction of work hours. The difficulty of juggling parent-worker responsibilities impacted their well-being and mental health. However, few studies have explored the unique experiences of janitor parents and their critical role in the pandemic.

In the fall of 2021, the UCLA Labor Center conducted 16 interviews with janitor parents who are members of the Building Skills Partnership and SEIU-USWW (Service International Employees Union-United Service Workers West) and have children attending LAUSD schools. The study’s goal was twofold: 1) to understand how changing working conditions affected janitors as parents and workers and 2) to understand how an ever-evolving year of online learning shaped parent workers’ ability to support their children. Preliminary findings point to janitor parents’ resiliency in light of the challenges they encountered.

First, our research team found that the sanitation training janitor parents received in the workplace made them acutely aware and critical of their children’s school sanitary practices. Selene,* a Guatemalan mother of two students, shared her worries after learning that her children were tasked with disinfecting shared spaces. She cited that disinfection practices needed to be performed by professionals on a daily basis. Janitor parents’ access to specialized training equipped them to act as health brokers as they consistently discussed best health practices with their children to keep them safe from COVID-19.

Reflecting nationwide trends, more than half of the janitor parents reported that their children struggled academically. Parents cited the lack of personalized communication and consistent support from teachers and school staff as contributing factors. Iris, a Latina mother of two, shared that she reached out to her daughter’s school counselor for help, but never heard back. She believed this lack of support was due to her Latina ethnicity, as she had received negative responses from school staff when she called speaking Spanish versus the more positive responses she experienced when she spoke English.

Single janitor parents also consistently struggled. Nora, an Honduran single mother of two children with special needs, shared how burnt out she was juggling work and parenting since the start of pandemic:

“As a single mother, how is it going on a daily basis? Very hard. It is very hard because I have to be at 100% … I go to work at 6pm until 2:30am … I sleep for just 3 hours … Then go drop them off … Then I take classes … After, I have to pick up my sons. Then I serve them dinner. Can you imagine? I have no life.”

To support janitor parents, we suggest the following recommendations::

  1. Provide coordinated support and resources for working parents, particularly single parent households (e.g., flexible childcare options, financial assistance).
  2. Ensure that school-parent communication is multilingual and through varied and accessible formats.

An article on this research is forthcoming. Read our previous report on the UCLA Labor Center’s programs with worker parents, Learning Together! An Innovative Tutoring Program for Low-Wage Janitor, Garment and Domestic Worker Children (click HERE to download).

Lucy González is a graduate student researcher with the UCLA Labor Center and is a recent MSW graduate. She plans to be a school social worker to work on creating a safe and culturally inclusive school environment for all children.

Sophia L. Ángeles is a graduate student researcher with the UCLA Labor Center’s Worker and Learner project and a PhD candidate in the UCLA School of Education and Information Studies.. Her research focuses on the intersection of immigration and language to examine newcomer youths’ educational experiences and their K–16 trajectories.

Janna Shadduck-Hernández, Ed.D., is a project director at the UCLA Labor Center and teaches for UCLA Labor Studies and 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, with a focus on the organizing efforts of low-wage workers to combat labor and workplace violations.

* All names are pseudonyms to protect our participant’s identity.

“Latino Policy and Politics Institute Founding Executive Director Sonja Diaz, Center, with past and current institute staff and policy fellows. Photo by James Michael Juarez.”

The UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative has officially become the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Institute (UCLA LPPI), thanks to $3 million in ongoing annual funding from the state of California.

The funding, championed by the Latino Legislative Caucus, was initially secured in 2021 and initiated UCLA LPPI’s transition into a permanent research fixture with a robust fellowship program and a network of nearly 50 affiliated faculty experts across UCLA’s College and professional schools.

Founded in 2017 through a partnership between UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs and division of social sciences, UCLA LPPI was launched to address the most critical domestic policy challenges facing Latinos and other communities of color. Since its inception, the institute has utilized the power of research, advocacy, mobilization and leadership development to propel policy reforms that expand genuine opportunity for all Americans.

Under the leadership of Sonja Diaz, UCLA LPPI’s founding director, the institute has gained national standing as a leading Latino policy think tank. Further, it has become a critical piece of infrastructure in UCLA’s march toward achieving federal designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution by 2025.

Some of UCLA LPPI’s key stakeholders shared the following thoughts on the significance of the institute’s work and the transition from an initiative to an institute with long-term sustainability:

“As chair of the Latino Legislative Caucus, I am so grateful for the Latino-centric research from UCLA LPPI that has helped us formulate the policies our communities need most. Latinos play an essential role in California, yet we are disproportionately impacted by issues like the gender pay gap and disparate health outcomes. It is critical that we have a Latino-focused think tank with readily available data on the various topics that Latinos care about most.”State Sen. María Elena Durazo

“It would stand to reason that the state with the largest number of Latinos in the country would recognize the need for a permanent voice on these matters, especially at UCLA – a vanguard of public higher education. This transition reflects the hard work of UCLA LPPI’s original founders and the growing influence of our ‘gente’ in academia and beyond. I applaud UCLA and the staff of UCLA LPPI, and I look forward to greater things and continued collaboration.”Juan Cartagena, UCLA LPPI advisory board member and president emeritus of LatinoJustice PRLDEF

“As a member of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, we refer to data from UCLA LPPI to inform our policymaking on the issues that directly impact California’s diverse Latino communities. I’m especially appreciative of the gender lens that UCLA LPPI applies in its research products, which has played a key role in our Unseen Latinas Initiative. UCLA LPPI’s transition to an established research institute will ensure we are pushing for the right legislative solutions for years to come.”State Sen. Lena Gonzalez

“The Chicano Studies Research Center shares a strong alignment with UCLA LPPI’s scholarly research on the most pressing social and political issues affecting diverse Latinx communities in the U.S. As UCLA LPPI transitions into an institute, we look forward to deepening our partnership and bolstering our shared commitment to raise the profile of Latino scholarship on campus and beyond.”Veronica Terriquez, director of the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center.

This story and photo were submitted to L.A. Social Science by Alise Brillault (she/her), Communications Manager of the Latino Policy & Politics Institute.


LA Social Science wants to highlight some of the summer courses being offered within the Division of Social Sciences at UCLA.

The Department of Communication offers an outstanding summer program. The classes featured during sessions A and C are taught by our esteemed faculty and are full-credit UCLA courses. Our highly sought-after courses cover a wide range of topics in a convenient and personalized class setting with smaller class sizes. For UCLA students, these courses afford the opportunity to graduate early, or complete the 45-unit minimum to apply for admission to the program. For non-UCLA and high school students, it is a chance to take classes at UCLA and experience the wonderful campus. For international students, it is a chance to engage in the rigorous academic environment of UCLA while experiencing the great city of Los Angeles. This summer we offer the following courses:

Summer Session A: June 21-July 29 (Six Week)

COMM 1 – Principles of Oral Communication [Hurwitz]
COMM 1A – Public Speaking for Nonnative Speakers [Negrete]
COMM 1B – Learning American English and Culture from Movies [Negrete]
COMM 10 – Introduction to Communication [Suman]
COMM 100 – Communication Science [Jones/Bryant]
COMM 109 – Entrepreneurial Communication [Peterson]
COMM 114 – Understanding Relationships [Suman]
COMM 157 – Celebrity, Fame, and Social Media  [Peterson]
COMM 188A – Sex and the Cinema [Hurwitz]
COMM 195 – Summer Internship Course [Johnson/Svenson]

Summer Session A3: June 21-July 8 (Three Week Intensive)

COMM 187 – Ethical and Policy Issues in Institutions of Mass Comm [Newton]
COMM 188 – Careers in Communication [Johnson]
COMM 188A – Program in Film Finance [Lewis]

Summer Session B3: July 11-29 (Three Week Intensive)

COMM 148 – Integrated Marketing [Feramisco]

Summer Session C: August 1-September 9 (Six Week)

COMM 1 – Principles of Oral Communication [Hurwitz]
COMM 1A – Public Speaking for Nonnative Speakers [Negrete]
COMM 1B – Learning American English and Culture from Movies [Negrete]
COMM 110 – Gender and Communication [Kicenski]
COMM 140  – Theory of Persuasive Communication [Suman]
COMM 148 – Integrated Marketing [Feramisco]
COMM 156 – Social Networking [Peterson]
COMM 166 – Inside Hollywood [Peterson]
COMM 170  – Legal Communication [Huppin]
COMM 195 – Summer Internship Course [Johnson/Svenson]

Enroll Today!

Organized and moderated by Professor Giulia Sissa (Classics, Political Science, Comparative Literature – UCLA).

Follow this link to register to attend online with Zoom on May 31 starting at 9am.

“Decolonizing Classics” is a novel challenge for scholars in the Humanities and, even more pointedly, for those who study the societies of ancient Greece and Rome. The stake is not merely relevance, usefulness or epistemic legitimacy, but also political credentials. The “Classics” in education and in academia are being asked to give account of their role in shaping not just cultures, but cultural identities; not just representations, but self-representations. Multiple responses are possible, from indifference to indignation, from defensiveness to solidarity, from haughty erudition to chirpy vulgarization. But this challenge is thought-provoking rather than threatening. These historical circumstances should prompt an experimental, critical, creative meditation on our practices of learning and teaching. What can be done, what should be done and how can we act in our double life, as experts of those early global worlds and as citizens of this present, planetary world?

At the end of a long seminar on the resources of “comparative thinking,” in the UCLA Program in Experimental Critical Theory, this roundtable will start a discussion on the future of Greece and Rome in our own cultural horizon. We will begin to showcase old and new heuristic approaches, which can help us reorient our research and refresh our language in a non-ethnocentric, non-linear, non-idealizing – non neoclassical – perspective.

SCHEDULE (Pacific Time)

9:00 AM – Giulia Sissa, UCLA
9:15 AM – Zrinka Stahuljak, UCLA
9:30 AM – Manuele Gragnolati, Sorbonne Université
9:45 AM – Ute Heidmann, Université de Lausanne
10:00 AM – Discussion
10:15 AM – Marco Formisano, Ghent University
10:30 AM – Phiroze Vasunia, University College London
11:00 AM – Cléo Carastro, EHESS, Paris
11:15 AM – Renaud Gagné, University of Cambridge
11:30 AM – Tristan Bradshaw, University of Wollongong and Ben Brown, University of Sydney
11:45 AM – Discussion
12:30 PM – Conclusion

Click here to download a PDF flyer for this event.

Photo Credit: PeopleImages

By Jose Garcia, Policy Fellow at the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Institute

This spring, the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Institute (UCLA LPPI) awarded its inaugural round of applied policy research grants to six teams of Latino scholars around the nation. Funding will enable research to directly inform public policy and support the training of future Latino academics. The research projects cover topics from Latino homelessness to the impact of public art on policy to the relationship between immigration and educational equity.

Health Science Specialist Melissa Chinchilla of Veteran Affairs Greater Los Angeles leads one team along with Deyanira Nevarez Martinez, an assistant professor of Urban and Regional Planning at Michigan State University. Their all-Latina team is examining new methodologies to estimate the homeless population in Los Angeles that can better account for the unique ways in which Latinos often experience homelessness, such as individuals doubling up in homes. The study will also assess how definitions of homelessness and requirements for documentation affect access to housing subsidies.

The “Latino paradox,” a phrase used to describe the phenomena of Latinos having high poverty rates but not showing up at the expected rate within homeless count numbers given their poverty rate, drives their research. The typical explanation is that Latinos are less likely to be identified as unhoused because they are more likely to use their social network and informal support systems to avoid entering formal homeless service systems.

To address this paradox, Chinchilla and Martinez are hoping to create alternative measures for homelessness by examining rates of shared homes due to loss of housing or economic hardship as well as overcrowded housing. These measures can ensure that government programs and services reach Latinos facing housing instability.

“This project will help expand the work around Latino homelessness,” said Chinchilla. “We don’t have a lot of people locally or nationally doing this work, so we’re trying to build a research agenda around Latino homelessness and be present at more policy tables focused on racial and ethnic disparities within unhoused populations.”

However, expanding the scope of research from Latino academics across the country is only one purpose of this funding. The funding from UCLA LPPI also provides a fertile training ground for the next generation of Latino scholars. Each research project has undergraduate or graduate research assistants like Alisson Ramos, a senior at UCLA studying Political Science. She is working alongside Efrén Pérez, a Professor of Political Science and Psychology at UCLA, to analyze the role of solidarity between communities of color in electoral politics.

“Previously, we’ve only measured attitudes, but with this grant, we’re hoping to analyze how the solidarity between people of color can influence political behavior,” said Ramos. “This grant allows me to utilize the research skills I’ve gained to hopefully flesh out this research project into a Ph.D. dissertation and create a pathway to become a professor and support other students like me.”

UCLA LPPI has a clear remit to develop the next generation of academics and leaders and sees the applied policy award grants as an integral investment in our collective future.

“With these grants, we are not only helping to develop the next generation of researchers,” said Sonja Diaz, UCLA LPPI’s founding director. “We are continuing to push the value of applied research as a road to impactful strategies that can drive highly targeted policy and real-time impact that creates increased and sustained opportunity for Latino communities.”

The UCLA Latino Politics & Policy Institute is providing these grants through generous ongoing annual state funding by the California State Legislature to conduct research and develop policy solutions to address inequities that disproportionately impact Latinos and other communities of color.

LA Social Science recently interviewed Dr. Raúl Hinojosa, an Associate Professor in the UCLA Department of Chicana/o and Central American Studies and Founding Director of the North American Integration and Development Center (NAID), about his center’s conference on March 4 reflecting on its 25 years of research and innovation.

Interview Chapters:

00:20 – Welcome

01:05 – Dr. Hinojosa, please tell us about your conference “Empowering Diasporas to Address Root Causes: 25 Years of UCLA NAID Center Research & Innovation.” I understand it covered various areas of UCLA NAID Center research and policy innovation, which had three panels of research, policy, and community leaders from the US, Mexico, and Central America, highlighting recent publications and current pilot policy pilot projects.

07:11 – Perhaps you can tell us about the mission of the NAID Center and the highlights of its achievements over the past 25 years. Also, can you tell us about the first panel which I understand highlighted your book written about the North American Development Bank: historical trajectory and lessons learned?

15:57 – Can you tell us about the second panel designed to highlight a new policy monograph “Addressing the Root Causes of Migration,” to be published by the UCLA NAID Center and the DC based Migration Policy Institute? I understand you also unveiled UCLA NAID transnational data mapping website for online detailed geographic visibility in the US, Mexico and Central America. Also, what are the policy recommendations of the NAID-MPI monograph on Promoting the Reinvestment of Remittances and Migrant Savings for Addressing Root Causes of Migration?

26:00 – The third panel is entitled “Transnational Indigenous Empowerment,” which I understand highlighted a financial empowerment pilot project in San Quintin BC organized with Mexican Indigenous “microbanks” and local universities with the support of the NADBank. Can you also talk about how this conference is a part of future trajectory of the NAID Center? I understand the NAID Center, and partners are working on transnational migration and global climate change.


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Join the UCLA Center for the Study of Women (CSW) for a special virtual event on Wednesday, May 18th to honor the center’s accomplishments, student award recipients, and this year’s Distinguished Leader in Feminism Award honoree.


Trans Latina Resilience: Past, Present, and Future


Bamby Salcedo

President and CEO of the TransLatin@ Coalition

This year, CSW has selected Bamby Salcedo as the recipient of the Center for the Study of Women’s 2022 Distinguished Leader in Feminism Award. Bamby is the President and CEO of the TransLatin@ Coalition, a national organization that focuses on addressing the issues of transgender Latin@s in the US. Bamby developed the Center for Violence Prevention & Transgender Wellness, a multipurpose, multiservice space for transgender people in Los Angeles.

Her talk will highlight historical and intergenerational institutional violence against Trans, Gender Nonconforming and Intersex (TGI) people. She will also address the current state of TGI people and how she envisions a better world for the TGI community.


To find out more about this award ceremony and the outstanding keynote speaker, click HERE.

By Alise Brillault

April 26, 2022

Some of the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative’s (UCLA LPPI) most sought-after research products are its analyses of Latino voters. As the nation’s second-largest ethnic group, Latinos are consequential in determining the outcome of elections. Thus, understanding the size and voting behavior of Latino communities across the country is critical to mobilizing this growing electorate.

Dr. Rodrigo Domínguez-Villegas, UCLA LPPI’s co-director of research, has spearheaded several reports that analyze the size of the Latino population that is eligible to vote, the number of Latinos who register to vote, and the actual candidates and ballot measures that Latinos support. With these studies, UCLA LPPI is debunking the myth of Latinos as a monolithic voting bloc and asking questions to understand the nuances of this diverse electorate.

UCLA LPPI understands that while the Latino vote is consequential, when voters of color come together they can wield significant influence. That is why UCLA LPPI prioritizes working in multiracial coalition to understand the collective power of voters of color. As such, UCLA LPPI has affiliations with faculty experts like Dr. Natalie Masuoka, UCLA professor of political science and Asian American studies, to study the voting behavior of Asian Americans and Latinos in conjunction.

“Latino voters and Asian voters are the two demographic groups growing fastest in the country,” Dr. Domínguez-Villegas explained. “Their impact on deciding elections has grown in the past decade, and it will only keep growing.”

Dr. Masuoka emphasized that researchers also learn the most when thinking comparatively. “We cannot analyze a population in isolation,” she said. “We therefore can’t understand the impact of race on voting by only looking at one group – we need to look at how it’s constructed vis-a-vis other groups.”

Some of the projects that UCLA LPPI has worked on in collaboration with Dr. Masuoka and the UCLA Asian American Studies Center include an analysis of Latino and Asian voters in the 2020 primary elections and a study of racial differences in the support of California propositions that same year.

The innovative method of conducting this research was originally conceptualized by Dr. Matt Barreto and is unique to UCLA LPPI. Rather than relying on traditional exit polls, wherein surveyors only interview small numbers of voters, UCLA LPPI analyzes actual ballots cast in all precincts and matches that data to demographic information. This allows researchers to more accurately understand the choices of Latinos and other voters of color.

Furthermore, going beyond party choice to focus on ballot propositions allows researchers to gain a more granular understanding of the diversity of political views within communities.

Another distinctive facet of this work is the hands-on engagement of  policy fellows in the research. Graduate students use their quantitative skills to gather and present data to research analysts therbey by helping to draw substantive conclusions. These graduate fellows in turn train undergraduate students such as Bryanna Ruiz Fernández, which facilitates unique mentorship opportunities.

“As a first-generation college student, higher education has been a difficult space to navigate, and research even more difficult,” said Ruiz Fernández. “However, having the opportunity to be guided by individuals like Michael Herndon and Daisy Vazquez Vera who faced similar challenges as myself, I was able to receive individualized support and guidance in order to build the skills that will ensure I am successful in whichever research-focused role I find myself in.”

Policy fellows also bring to the table key insights from their lived experiences growing up and working in Latino communities.

“Many of these students have participated in voter mobilization efforts,” Dr. Domínguez-Villegas explained. “They can understand the needs of the Latino community and voters’ priorities through an organizer’s perspective.”

UCLA LPPI is now gearing up for the 2022 midterm elections, with research that will focus on key states like Arizona, Florida and Georgia where Latino and other voters of color will be consequential to election outcomes

LA Social Science interviews Dr. Sherene Razack, Distinguished Professor in Gender Studies & Penney Kanner Endowed Chair in Women’s Studies at UCLA. Her new book titled, Nothing Has to Make Sense: Upholding White Supremacy Through Anti-Muslim Racism, argues that the figure of the Muslim reveals a world divided between the deserving and the disposable, where people of European origin are the former and all others are confined in various ways to regimes of disposability. Emerging from critical race theory, and bridging with Islamophobia/critical religious studies, it demonstrates that anti-Muslim racism is a revelatory window into the operation of white supremacy as a global force.

Interview Chapters:

00:04 – Intro

01:00 – What is the main contribution of this book?

04:23 – Meaning of “Christian White Supremacy”?

06:58 – How has popular culture and anti-Muslim racism changed over time?

09:54 – Why should someone read this book?

To learn more, check out Professor Razack’s book, Nothing Has to Make Sense: Upholding White Supremacy Through Anti-Muslim Racism.


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