Lane County Latino/a/x Leaders Workgroup Awarded Social Change Research Grant

The Lane County Latino/a/x Leaders Workgroup convened by Lane Workforce Partnership, Oregon Community Foundation-Latino Partnership Program, and Palo Alto Software has been awarded a Social Change Research Grant of $20,000 from the Sociological Initiatives Foundation.

This collaborative research is spearheaded by the Lane County Latino a/x Leaders Workgroup. Members of the Latino/a/x Workgroup come from different sectors and influences across Lane County and as a group are concerned with how the Latino community can gain more political representation, influence, and sense of belonging.

The research project is called “Investigating structural barriers faced by Latino leaders across Lane County Governance”. Centro Latino Americano (newly merged organization with Huerto de la Familia and Downtown Languages) is the fiscal agent and Dr. José W. Meléndez, Assistant professor of Planning at the University of Oregon is the principle Investigator. The research staff is comprised of Latinos from the community as a way to provide them with professional development opportunities. Staff includes: Emma Avalos, Student Success Engagement Organizer at Centro Latino Americano and David Wenzell Nieto, sophomore transfer student at the University of Oregon. The Oregon Community Foundation (OFC) awarded LWG a Capacity Building grant of $5,000 in 2020 and in Program Year 2021/2022, OCF renewed their financial commitment to help support the efforts of the workgroup.

This project is a Participant Action Research (PAR) study that allows for investigating problems jointly with community members. It will examine how the design and structure of local government across varying jurisdictions in Lane County, Oregon, create institutional system level barriers for Latino leaders who attempt to engage in the various political arenas. These barriers, we hypothesize, prevent the emergence of a political power base for the Latino community, and subsequently perpetuate the disposition that the various access points for engaging with local governments are not meant for them.

This project aims to jointly develop and implement interventions that will change the structural barriers identified across Lane County governments. In addition, research findings and policy recommendations will be written and disseminated. An initial project presentation will take place at the City Club of Eugene on Friday, March 25th, 2022 at noon at 1376 Olive St, Eugene. For more information, please visit the City Club of Eugene website.

About the Lane County Latino/a/x Leaders Workgroup (LWG)

Each gathering brings together Latino/a/x leaders from different sectors and influences. These meetings are structured to inspire and facilitate personal connections and help mobilize community-driven solutions. This group of individuals were invited to assist with: co-creating a vision and purpose, organizing and advocating around a strategic budget and policy agenda; and partnering with leaders and public officials to advance change.