California State Sen. Nancy Skinner announced $3 million in funding for the UC Berkeley Latinx Research Center on Friday.
Skinner, who is also chair of the state senate’s Budget Committee, worked with other colleagues to allocate funding to the center in the fiscal year 2022-2023 budget that was approved and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom. She noted that there were many legislators, including individuals from the California Latino Legislative Caucus, who supported and helped achieve the request.
“Chancellor Christ has declared an interest in UC Berkeley receiving the federal designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, and it makes sense that all of our public higher education be Hispanic-serving because of the large population of Hispanics we have in California,” Skinner said. “But for UC Berkeley to get that designation, it has to do a lot more to support, attract and inspire Latinx undergraduates, graduate students and faculty.”
Skinner noted that though the Latine population is one of the fastest-growing segments of the California population, only 18% of undergraduates and 9% of graduate students at UC Berkeley are Latine. She noted that giving the funding to the research center made sense in helping support campus getting that designation, as it helps expand opportunities in all fields.
The Latinx Research Center’s research informs policy and highlights the “complexity of the Latinx experience” in the United States, as well as factors that impact the distribution of social, cultural, political and material opportunities, according to a Latinx Research Center press release.
The funding comes at a “crucial” time for the center as funding is part of chair Laura Pérez’s responsibilities, according to the press release. Pérez, who is also a campus professor of Chicanx/Latinx studies and ethnic studies, has been working on permanently stabilizing the Latinx Research Center for the past five years.
“We are incredibly excited about the necessary research and related paid student mentorship opportunities that the state senate budget allocation will allow UC Berkeley, through the Latinx Research Center, to deliver about our state’s largest, most wealth-producing, and yet one of its most poorly understood and disenfranchised populations,” Pérez said in the press release.
The press release noted that the funding will stabilize the center in addition to supporting five research initiatives: Democracy and Media, Latinxs and the Environment, Latinxs and Public Policy, the Center for the Critical Study of the Health of Latinx Communities and the Decolonial Knowledges and the Pluriversal University Initiative.
These aim to provide campus faculty, lecturers, postdoctoral fellows and students at graduate and undergraduate levels with interdisciplinary research opportunities.
“Thanks to this fellowship, I not only learned how to conduct research alongside the guidance of my faculty mentor, but I’ve also developed confidence in myself as a researcher,” said Michael Garcia, an undergraduate research fellow at the center, in the press release. “The funding allocated to the LRC creates positive change for underrepresented students like me.”