Whitman College’s year-long community-based research project on “The State of the State for Washington Latinos” has been awarded an $11,000 grant by the Yakima Valley Community Foundation.

Professor Paul Apostolidis, Judge and Mrs. Timothy A. Paul Chair of Political Science, reports that the grant will be used to support public outreach efforts in 2012 based on students’ fall 2011 research inquiries.

Current research focuses on promoting English language learners’ academic success, creating culturally competent schools, increasing Latino political representation, identifying and meeting human service needs, and assessing the effects of immigration control policies on local communities. Students are conducting their research in partnership with local and regional organizations, including OneAmerica, the National Voting Rights Advocacy Initiative (Seattle University Law School), the Walla Walla Public Schools, and Commitment to Community of Walla Walla.

“We are tremendously grateful for this support from the Yakima Valley Community Foundation,” Apostolidis said. “The foundation shares our commitment to promoting a better informed society through civically engaged research and action, and to involving college students as young leaders in these vital endeavors.” Apostolidis also noted Whitman’s gratitude to the Blue Mountain Community Foundation for a $3,000 grant this past fall.

Whitman’s “State of the State” project was founded in 2005. The program made headlines in 2007 when a student’s analysis of local elections in Sunnyside, Wash., identified grounds for applying the Voting Rights Act to address disproportionately low Latino political representation. The city council of Sunnyside subsequently changed voting laws after the federal Department of Justice confirmed the need for action to increase Latino representation in local government.

The Yakima Valley Community Foundation was established in 2004 and has assets close to $44 million. In just seven years, the foundation made grants of more than $6.5 million to nonprofit organizations. The foundation is made up of more than 55 separate charitable funds, which have been established by donors either for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes. The foundation also serves as a civic leader, convener and sponsor of special initiatives designed to build community. For more information about the Yakima Valley Community Foundation, visit www.yvcf.org or call (509) 457-7616.