When United Way of York County asked Vinny Cannizzaro, Glatfelter Public Policy Fellow at the Arthur J. Glatfelter Institute for Public Policy, to take on a research initiative about the Hispanic and Latinx community in York County, he jumped at the opportunity to conduct up-to-date research. The last study was conducted 10 years ago, so here was a chance for him to involve his student interns in a project of significance.
Interns worked with the community to gather data through survey collection and to conduct focus groups, in order to assess current concerns of local families. Students were able to apply what they learned in the classroom in a real-world, applicable setting.
With the Hispanic and Latinx population in York County on the rise, the findings from this research address real societal concerns. One of the most surprising findings to Cannizzaro was that only 32 percent of respondents felt comfortable sitting outside their house at night and only 30 percent of respondents felt comfortable with their children sitting outside their house at night. This fear could stem from any number of reasons, including discrimination, poverty, crime, etc. Cannizzaro hopes that their work “will begin to provide concrete data, allowing for supporting organizations and agencies to adopt potential policy and programmatic solutions.”
In the United Way of York County 2017 Hispanic and Latinx Community Assessment, Cannizzaro and his interns reviewed their findings and provided recommendations. The main concerns uncovered in the study included employment, income, and poverty; educational attainment and job training; homeownership; societal opportunity; and unequal treatment. Based on these concerns, their recommendations are to take five actions: Changing service access and the service delivery model in York County, instituting initiatives to create more community engagement, increasing language training opportunities and language access services, producing more accessible employment and training opportunities, and creating a welcoming community.
Cannizzaro hopes this research will be used in the near future to help guide improvements in the community and public policy. “It is imperative that all of us – students, residents, academics, governmental officials – pay attention to the inequities that surround us and actively work to be part of the solution,” he says.