Welcome to the UCSB Blum Center on Poverty, Inequality, and Democracy

The UCSB Blum Center aims to foster interdisciplinary, socially engaged research and learning about poverty and inequality, and to contribute to collective action that advances intersectional economic and environmental justice regionally, in the United States, and abroad. Established with funding from UC Regent Richard C. Blum and the UC Office of the President, it is part of a campus-wide network across a number of UC campuses system.

This year the Blum Center is focusing on three core initiatives:

The Central Coast Regional Equity Initiative (CCREI) was launched in 2021 in partnership with The Fund for Santa Barbara. Building from the Central Coast Regional Equity Study, conducted in collaboration with USC’s Equity Research Institute, the initiative documents widening inequality in California’s increasingly diverse central coast counties of Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo with trend data on  employment and wages, housing,  health, education, political  representation, and  environmental risk, among other indicators. In addition to funding collaborative community-engaged research, the CCREI  has set out to foster a collective, region-wide conversation and to advance a research-informed action agenda to improve the lives of all, and especially of the increasingly multi-racial working class communities who live, work, learn and contribute to the vitality of the region. 

Our initiative on Cooperative Economics encompasses a broad spectrum of collaborative endeavors, from the communal practices and empowerment strategies of indigenous communities to the support and exchange networks developed within the contemporary mutual aid movement. There is a rich tradition of cooperative endeavor in movements for racial and intersectional justice. Thanks to generous support from the family of Dr. U.S. Awasthi, UCSB faculty and students are eligible for funding opportunities. 

Our most recent efforts, the Central Coast Community Labor Project & Labor Summer initiative, will provide UCSB students with opportunities to learn about community and labor organizing and research practices. As part of the immersive Labor Summer internship experience, Central Coast unions and allied organizations will support UCSB students in paid internships to advance labor causes and achieve social and economic justice. 

We invite you to join us in the work and to stay informed about up-coming events and programs. We can be found on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and YouTube, and we also distribute a regular newsletter to our audience. Sign up to join our listserv!

See below for our most recent announcements & up-coming events:

This past Spring Quarter, the Blum Center hosted its first combined research symposium featuring original UCSB faculty and student projects centered on The Dr. U.S. Awathi Initiative in Cooperative Economics, and the Central Coast Regional Equity Initiative. This is our inaugural year featuring Central Coast Regional Equity research at UCSB and our second year supporting Cooperative Economics projects, and we invite you to learn more about these respective presentations in the newsletter.

We are also pleased to announce the 2023/24 Central Coast Regional Equity awardees, and Cooperative Economics awardees, for the up-coming year. UCSB faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students are tackling an array of issues including California essential workers’ access to legal knowledge, undocumented high school students’ funding for secondary education, gendered labor markets in post-socialist states, the role of economic democracy within social networks, home care cooperatives, democratic decision-making in the classroom, the power of queer bookstores and transnational networks, LGBT+ publishing opportunities in Brazil, and network support within BIPOC farmer communities.

Please use this link to access the full newsletter.

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If you would like to learn more about the Blum Center's initiatives, events, and ways to get involved in addressing poverty and inequality both on campus and in the community, please sign up for our newsletter here.