Mellon Foundation grant will support national initiative in Latinx studies


Through a three-year, $5 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, UC Santa Cruz will be part of a national initiative in Latinx studies called “Crossing Latinidades: Emerging Scholars and New Comparative Directions.”

The University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) will lead this grant project as part of a consortium of 16 Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) that have R1 designation—for top-tier doctoral universities with very high research activity—from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. That group includes UC Santa Cruz. Chancellor Cynthia Larive and Associate Professor and former Chair of Latin American & Latino Studies Gabriela Arredondo have been involved with planning efforts since 2020.

A key component of the new grant project will be the creation of an intensive yearly summer institute on Latinx studies methodologies and theories and a mentorship program that aims to enhance rising scholars’ comparative research skills, intellectual curiosity, creativity and critical thinking. Each university will send two pre-proposal graduate students to the summer institute, and 96 students in total will benefit from the institute and from an assigned mentor.

A second part of the program is a research working group initiative that seeks to impact the field of Latinx studies with a new model of collaborative, comparative and cross-regional research to more accurately reflect the changing configurations of Latinx people in the United States. In years two and three of the grant, 10 research working groups will be funded that will include senior and junior Latinx studies scholars as well as six graduate students. 

Plans for the current grant award also include the creation of a web portal that will network all faculty conducting research in Latinx studies at the consortium’s universities. 

“Beyond the financial support that the programs within this grant will offer, this prestigious award amplifies the importance of Latinx studies and Latinx scholars in these fields and disciplines,” said UCSC Associate Professor Gabriela Arredondo. “I am excited about these new opportunities to collaborate with scholars and scholars-in-training in Latinx studies across institutions, and I am excited about the support expressed by Chancellors and Presidents in this consortium for Latinx humanistic studies.” 

Olga Herrera, a visiting scholar in Latin American and Latino studies at UIC, will serve as the director of the Crossing Latinidades initiative. Catherine Ramírez, professor and current chair of UCSC’s Latin American & Latino Studies Department, will help to lead implementation of the grant at UC Santa Cruz. 

Overall, the goal of the consortium of 16 R1-HSI universities is to increase the number of Latinx students pursuing terminal degrees and advancing to academic positions. This grant project is the first initiative the group will undertake, but additional plans are currently being developed across all fields of studies. 

Along with UC Santa Cruz and UIC, the institutional partners in the consortium are the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York; University of Arizona; University of California, Irvine; University of California, Riverside; University of California, Santa Barbara; Florida International University; University of Central Florida; University of New Mexico; University of Nevada, Las Vegas; University of North Texas; Texas Tech University; University of Houston; University of Texas, Arlington, and University of Texas, El Paso.