Campus: Sonoma State University -- February 19, 2003
Civic Engagement Among Latino Youth In Sonoma
County Focus Of $100,000 Grant
Sonoma State University professors Carlos A. Benito and Francisco Vazquez
have received a $100,000 grant to study civic engagement behaviors and
beliefs that lead to political awareness, activism and volunteering
among Latino high school students in Sonoma County.
Benito and Vazquez hope to suggest ways to motivate students to participate
in public life. The project also seeks to explain differences in civic
engagement among students of different ethnic backgrounds.
"Over a third of Latinos nationally are younger than 18 years of
age, and within the next 10 years, their voting power and civic participation
could be formidable," says Vazquez.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Latinos are the fastest-growing
demographic group in the United States, making up 12% of the total U.S.
In Sonoma County, Latinos comprise 17.3% of the population, he says.
Awarded from the The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning
and Engagement (CIRCLE) at the University of Maryland, the project involves
surveys that consider civic knowledge, human values, family background,
socioeconomic status, culture of origin, and demographic characteristics
among other factors. Statistical findings will be validated with focus
Such information can be useful for teachers and school administrators
who want to develop curriculum or programs promoting civic education,
says Benito. "The study's outcomes may also interest policy makers,"
"Civic Engagement Among Latino Youth in Sonoma County" will
run through December, 2003 and is housed under the Hutchins Institute
for Public Policy and Community Action at the University.
Dr. Benito, an economics professor, has worked internationally on Education
and Social Projects. He has worked for the World Bank, the Inter-American
Development Bank, the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, among others.
As a teacher, he commonly has his students do applied research in economics
to help them learn while serving community needs.
Dr. Vazquez, director of the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies, was
recently honored as a recipient of one of four Honorable Mentions for
the nationally recognized Ernest A. Lynton Award for Faculty Professional
Service and Academic Outreach. The award recognizes a faculty member
who connects his or her expertise and scholarship to community outreach.
Jean Wasp, Media Relations, (707) 664-2057