On Feb. 10, the UC Riverside School of Public Policy announced that it will launch the Blum Initiative on Global and Regional Poverty in the fall of 2015. The initiative is made possible by a gift from Richard Blum—former chairman of the UC Board of Regents—and matching donations from the UC Office of the President and UC Riverside Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox.
Part of the initiative’s mission is to focus its research on local poverty-related issues in the Inland Empire—the metropolitan area directly to the east of Los Angeles in which UC Riverside is situated.
“The Inland Empire has some of the highest poverty rates among the nation’s largest metropolitan areas,” Chancellor Wilcox explained.
Location is not UC Riverside’s only vested interest in poverty-reduction. According to Wilcox, 58 percent of the school’s undergraduate students receive need-based Pell grants. Over half of UC Riverside’s students are the first in their families to attend college.
“This initiative will help us conduct research, teaching and outreach that focuses attention on poverty in the region and will help policymakers and community-based organizations improve the lives of the poor in the Inland Empire,” Wilcox said.
While much of its research will be locally focused, the initiative also hopes to bridge the intellectual gap between global lessons and local applications.
“A program that builds on Riverside’s strengths and seeks to address local and regional poverty issues in the context of global lessons is an important endeavor that will benefit California and provide intellectual challenges and opportunities for UCR faculty and students,” said Janet Napolitano, UC President, speaking of the initiative.
Anil Deolalikar, developmental economist and founding dean of the UC Riverside School of Public Policy, stressed the importance of such a broad-based approach.
“Every place in the world has poverty and there are many places in the world that have tackled the problem of poverty with good results. We will be trying to glean lessons from around the world so that we can use some of those lessons to solve poverty problems here in the Inland Empire,” Deolalikar said.
According to Deolalikar, the initiative will also provide competitive seed grants to faculty with the best ideas for poverty-based action research.
“We will solicit ideas for poverty-related research in Inland Southern California that draw upon policy lessons from around the world. In this way, we hope to cross-fertilize the field of domestic U.S. poverty policy, which has evolved independently of the rich literature on—and innovative experiences of—global poverty.”
– Parker Carroll