News Release| Pat Brown Institute; Cal State L.A.

August 15, 2012

The Pat Brown Institute supports faculty research focusing on a healthier Boyle Heights community

Mini-grants to further Pat Brown Institute’s Youth Enrichment Policy Project

Los Angeles, CA  – The Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Institute of Public Affairs (PBI) at Cal State L.A. recently awarded mini-grants for unique research in Boyle Heights to three CSULA faculty members—Kathryn Hillstrom, Enrique Ochoa, and Ellen Shiau.

The mini-grants come from PBI’s Youth Enrichment Policy Project (YEPP), which is funded by The California Endowment.  The grants will support the faculty members’ applied research on issues and topics involving the Boyle Heights community. As part of two-year TCE grant, PBI will also provide Youth Leadership and Civic Engagement training program to high school students in Boyle Heights. 

The YEPP students are trained to become civic leaders and community advocates in a nine-month training program and will use the information and data gained from the CSULA research to inform their own community policy projects.  The research projects will culminate with the faculty presentations and a series of working papers that will be published in Spring 2013. 

“High quality academic research makes an invaluable contribution to the development of good public policy,” said Dr. Raphael Sonenshein, PBI executive director.  “PBI is fortunate to be located at a university with active scholars whose research can help advance the PBI mission.”

For Nutrition Professor Kathryn Hillstrom’s research, she will be collecting data on the food environment in Boyle Heights, specifically the availability of healthy foods in supermarkets and corner markets.

“Los Angeles, like all large cities, has pockets where residents’ rates of disease like obesity and diabetes are disproportionately high,” said Hillstrom. “Boyle Heights is one of these communities and has been defined as a food desert. This study has the potential to add to the current literature an understanding of the ‘food swamp/food desert’ environment, including what foods are available, the quality of those foods and the price points which may affect food purchasing behavior.”

Political Science Professor Ellen Shiau will explore the possible connections between the built environment, crime and fear, while also providing knowledge to the Boyle Heights community about spatial and temporal patterns of crime.

“My research project plans to map reported incidences of crime in Boyle Heights from 2005 to 2010 using GIS (geographic information system) methods in order to identify spatial and temporal patterns of crime in the community,” explained Shiau. “The project builds on a collaboration with two USC researchers who are researching the experiences of male youth in East Los Angeles neighborhoods. As one piece of their research, male youth living in East Los Angeles were surveyed regarding places in their neighborhood where they felt afraid. The crime maps I will create hopefully will serve as a useful policy tool for Boyle Heights residents and advocates with an interest in public safety issues.”

And, History Professor Enrique Ochoa will be examining the food systems in the community and drawing on Mexican and Central American rural histories and cultures to reframe the issues of health.

Mini-grant awardees will receive one course release during the fall quarter 2012. Additional mini-grants will be awarded in winter 2013. The proposal process will begin at the end of September 2012.

TCE is investing in Boyle Heights as part of its Building Healthy Communities program, which is focusing on 14 distinct communities in California where residents and organizations are committed to building healthy communities. Through the Pat Brown Institute, the TCE seeks ways to foster on-going partnership and collaborative opportunities between the University and the Boyle Heights community.

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The Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Institute of Public Affairs is a non-partisan public policy center located on campus at California State University, Los Angeles that is dedicated to sustaining the vision and legacy of former California Governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown through convening public policy forums, engaging multi-sector stakeholders and diverse communities, and conducting timely policy research and community-driven initiatives.

The California Endowment is a private, statewide health foundation founded in 1996 to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians.

Working for California since 1947: The 175-acre hilltop campus of California State University, Los Angeles is at the heart of a major metropolitan city, just five miles from Los Angeles’ civic and cultural center. More than 20,000 students and 225,000 alumni—with a wide variety of interests, ages and backgrounds—reflect the city’s dynamic mix of populations. Six Colleges offer nationally recognized science, arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and humanities programs, among others, led by an award-winning faculty. Cal State L.A. is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Jazz Orchestra and to the Honors College for high-achieving students. Programs that provide exciting enrichment opportunities to students and community include an NEH-supported humanities center; a NASA-funded center for space research; and a growing forensic science program, housed in the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center.