Collaborative Research


Increasing Organizational Capacity to Support Undocumented Youth


The UndocuScholars Projects support collaborative research between researchers andorganizations that provide services to undocumented youth in higher education. The goals of this strand of project are: to establish formal relationships between researchers and organizations, 2) help organizations strengthen their research capacity and establish a culture of inquiry that will improve their use of research to inform their work, and 3) help researchers think about their own work in the context of real world problems in order to promote more applied and actionable research. This year UndocuScholars has collaborated with multiple partnerships to support their efforts in supporting undocumented youth, this project is comprised of the following partnerships:


“The CSU UndocuServices Project” (CUSP)

Partnership: Dr. Tracy Lachica Buenavista, Professor of Asian American Studies and core faculty in the Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership at California State University, Northridge (CSUN), and the CSUN EOP DREAM Center. Dr. Buenavista will collaborate with Mr. Dario Fernandez and Ms. Blanca Villagomez, the Coordinator and Student Success Advisor of the CSUN DREAM Center. 

The CSU UndocuServices Project (CUSP) seeks to understand the various forms of institutional support available for undocumented students throughout the California State University (CSU) system. The primary objective is to determine the factors that shape the development of institutionalized support programs and services for undocumented students in the CSU system. CUSP also seeks to understand the challenges and accomplishments of institutionalized support so that other CSU campuses interested in establishing undocumented student resources will have access to research-based best practices and recommendations to refine and/or establish new undocumented student programs and services.

“Cultivating educational aspirations in low-income and families of color through education, engagement, and empowerment”

Partnership: Matt Matera, ScholarshipsA-Z’s Executive Director and Dr. Susana Muñoz, Assistant Professor at Colorado State University.

Scholarships A-Z (SA-Z), in collaboration with Dr. Susana Muñoz, Assistant Professor at Colorado State University, launch the SA-Z climate assessment, a comprehensive analysis of the impact of SA-Z’s educator training on school climate for undocumented and DACA students. The project will help SA-Z further its mission of providing resources and scholarships to students, families, and educators in order to make higher education accessible to all regardless of immigration status. The primary goal of the SA-Z Climate Assessment is to offer deeper insight into the effectiveness of SA-Z’s training on creating a school climate that welcomes, serves, and protects undocumented and DACA students.

“Dreamer Resource Centers: Institutional Supports for Undocumented Students”

Partnership:  Dr. Jesus Cisneros an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, in collaboration with Diana Valdivia who is the coordinator of Undocumented Student Services at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

We are interested in evaluating Dreamer Resource Centers within institutions of higher education. We seek to elevate the leadership and educational contributions of such efforts for responding to the presence and needs of undocumented students. By investigating their development and contributions, our proposed project seeks to highlight Dreamer Resource Centers as viable structures for supporting undocumented students in higher education. Our goal is to expose academic and administrative leadership at other institutions to the possibility of Dreamer Resource Centers and the impact of such efforts on campus and in the community. We would like to map Dreamer Resource Centers across the country to help institutions of higher education connect with each other, improve their efficiency, and optimize their resources for working with undocumented students. It is our hope that such data mapping would contribute to the generation of practice-related professional development resources and opportunities for providing enhanced services for undocumented students.