UMass Boston


Since its founding in 1989, the Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy has used applied and collaborative research to implement its mission of providing useful information (to policymakers, practitioners, and community leaders) on the experience of Latinos in Massachusetts. To access all our research reports please visit the Gastón Institute's ScholarWorks. We are proudly part of IUPLR (Inter-University Program for Latino Research).



Research areas

Core Area 1:  Descriptive Socio-Demographic Analysis

We provide periodic demographic updates on the Latino population in Massachusetts and other New England states. The rapidly changing makeup of the Latino population of Massachusetts calls for a deeper understanding of the characteristics and situations of the different sectors of the community. We issue periodic reports based on the American Community Survey, decennial census, and other government data sources. These reports, generated as a public service by the Institute, can be requested by government agencies, community organizations, foundations, businesses, and individuals.

Core Area 2:  Applied Research on Policies, Programs, and Practices

The Gastón Institute collaborates with government agencies, community organizations, foundations, and businesses in applied research projects aimed at evaluating the impact of policies, programs, and practices on Latino education, health, economic, and community-development outcomes. Our most recent applied research projects have documented the educational experience of English Language Learners in Massachusetts schools, including enrollment and academic outcomes as well as schools’ cultural competence and community engagement.

Core 3:  Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR)

The Gastón Institute responds to requests from government and foundations for CBPR studies seeking to test theories and methods for addressing disparities in educational, health, and economic outcomes in U.S. Latino and Latin American communities. Our future research in this area seeks to answer questions about the factors that contribute to the production of disparities in health, educational, and economic outcomes.  Our current CBPR projects seek to test the feasibility of a variety of intervention strategies and focus on Spanish media, organizational capacity, and photovoice.

Demographic Research Agenda

Following up on the Gastón Institute’s recent release of its statewide demographic report, “The Diversity and Dispersion of Latinos in Massachusetts,” the institute is producing a report on the changing Latino population in New England. This report provides a systematic analysis of the Latino population of New England and its six component states individually. This report provides an in-depth comparative analysis of Latino communities across the region and places our Massachusetts Latino communities within the broader regional context.

In addition to this regional report, a series of educational reports are being produced on Latino student educational outcomes in selected school districts that correspond to cities and towns for which the institute has recently produced demographic profiles. Seen through many metrics, the educational outcomes of Latino students in the state have improved over the past twenty years, but the educational gap between Latino and non-Latino white and Asian students persists. These reports identify variation in Latino educational outcomes and highlight the disparities that Latino students face.

In addition to these demographical and educational reports, the Gastón Institute is producing Latino population projections for Massachusetts. This project uses a cohort-component methodology that employs 2010-2015 Massachusetts Department of Public Health birth and death data along with American Community Survey population data to produce nativity and mortality rates, and 2007 to 2015 American Community Survey data to produce domestic and international migration rates. This cohort- component methodology produces Latino population projections for Massachusetts in five-year intervals until 2040.

Current research projects

“CANALA” (Collaborative of Asian American, Native American, Latino and African diaspora). PIs: Barbara Lewis, Lorna Rivera, Paul Watanabe and Cedric Woods.

Summary: CANALA is a research collaboration of UMass Boston’s four major racial and ethnic institutes, the Institute for Asian American Studies, the Institute for New England Native American Studies, the Gaston Institute, and the Trotter Institute. CANALA researchers are utilizing community-based research and engagement strategies to gather input from the city’s communities of color to update demographic data and publish a book,” A Dream Imagined: Race, Ethnicity and the Struggle for Boston's Future.”

"Transnational Brazilian Project" P.I. Eduardo Siqueira.

The Transnational Brazilian Project aims to: 1. Organize a network of faculty and students at UMass Boston to promote transnational, transdisciplinary, and transcultural research, teaching, and service activities (focused on Brazilian immigrants in Massachusetts and the United States as well as Brazilians residing in Brazil); and 2. Promote academic collaborations between UMass Boston and universities and government agencies in Brazil through short- and long-term exchange of students and faculty.

Past research projects

“Immigrant Youth-Led Participatory Action Research.” P.I.s: Patricia Krueger-Henney and Lorna Rivera.

Summary: This research project in collaboration with African Community Economic Development of New England (ACEDONE) and Center to Support Immigrant Organizing (CSIO) addresses the challenges faced by English Language Learners in the Boston Public Schools regarding ongoing racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia. Led by teams of Latinx and Somali youth researchers, the youth will document their experiences and make curricular and policy recommendations to Boston Public Schools.

“Latino Student Success: Building Pathways from High School to Baccalaureate.” P.I. Lorna Rivera. Co- P.I: Fabián Torres-Ardila, Ana Solano-Campos, and Marisol Negron.

Summary: This two-year project funded by Massachusetts Department of Higher Education brings together Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC), Chelsea High School and Gaston Institute to collaborate on research and curriculum development projects focused on leveraging the cultural assets of Latin@ students to support college participation, degree completion and transfer success among underserved Latino students.

“How is the Zika epidemic affecting women’s lives? Women, Reproduction and Family Life in the time of Zika.” P.I.: Ana Rosa Linde Arias, MS, PhD.

Summary: The research objectives of this project are: 1. To identify women’s social and health literacy about Zika; 2) To describe women’s perceptions and knowledge about the potential and real effects of Zika on their personal and family lives.; 3) To characterize women’s perceptions and knowledge about how government policies affect their reproductive rights.; 4) To determine how medical care of Zika disease influences the decisions women make regarding their reproduction.

“Cultivating Latinx Student Educational Success K-16: Pathways for Developing Educational Success and Leadership” P.I.s Lorna Rivera and Ester Shapiro.

Summary: This program evaluation study uses qualitative and quantitative research to examine the outcomes of Latinx participants in three historic programs for Latino students: The Talented & Gifted Latino Program (TAG); 2) Proyecto Alerta; and 3) Latino Leadership Opportunity Program
(LLOP). Teams of undergraduate student researchers are conducting interviews and focus groups to assess the impact of these programs on former participants’ education and life goals.

"Latinx and Black Student Pathways and the School to Prison Pipeline.” P.I. Leidy V. Quiceno.

Summary: This Masters Thesis is an ethnographic and transdisciplinary study of the experiences of underprivileged and at-risk Latinx and Black Youth using the lenses of racial, socio-economic status, and cultural wealth disparities in their schools and communities.

Public Health Agenda

The Gastón Institute successfully completed Por Ahí Dicen: Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Spanish Media Campaign on Mother-Child Communication about Sexuality (P.I. Maria Idali Torres), which was part of the Center of Health Equity Intervention Research (CHEIR) and funded by the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) #P60MD006912. This research showed a positive correlation between exposure to the study’s three-month public service announcement campaign and Puerto Rican mothers’ communication about sexual health topics with their children ages 10-19. As a follow up to this research, the institute is contributing to the submission of National Institute of Health (R01) research proposal to develop and test a public service announcement campaign targeting Puerto Rican fathers that promotes sexual health communication with their children. This research will employ ethno-musical procedures to recruit Puerto Rican fathers for the research study and develop a music-based educational campaign.


How Do Latino Students Fare in Massachusetts Charter Schools? is a collaborative research project between the Latino Education Institute at Worcester State University and the Gastón Institute. For more information contact Lorna Rivera.

Identifying Success in Schools and Programs for English Language Learners in Boston Public Schools is a collaborative project of researchers and practitioners from Boston Public Schools, the Gastón Institute, and the Center for Collaborative Education (CCE). For more information contact Dr. Miren Uriarte.

An Imperative for Change: this project focuses on the unique needs of students who require both special education and English language learning and has already produced a report by Dr. Maria de Lourdes Serpa. For more information contact Dr. Miren Uriarte.

Cultural Proficiency in Education: the Gastón Institute partnered with Sociedad Latina to produce a literature report with the goal of deepening the understanding of policymakers and administrators of the benefits of culturally proficient schools for all students. The report was produced by Cady Landa. For more information please contact Dr. Miren Uriarte.

Improving Food Purchasing Selection among Low-Income Spanish Speaking Latinos through Social Marketing Messages: funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Salud America initiative, this study seeks first to examine food purchasing patterns of Spanish-speaking Latino families, and then to develop and evaluate a social marketing strategy. For more information please contact Dr. Dharma Cortés.

Para un Futuro Mejor: feasibility of a Photovoice Approach to Increase Latino Parent-Child Communication about Sexuality: funded by the National Institutes of Health/NICHHD, this study tests the feasibility of the dual-role of photovoice as a data collection and intervention method to promote Latino parent-child communication about sexuality. For more information contact Dr. María Idalí Torres or Dr. Aline Gubrium. You can read the following relevant publication: Gubrium, Aline C., and M. I. Torres. 2011. “S-T-R-8 up” Latinas: Affirming an alternative sexual identity. American Journal of Sexuality Education 6(3) (July): 281-305.

Promoting Utilization of Cancer Early Detection Methods among Latinos in Church: A Faith-Based Approach: this is one of five pilot research projects of the U54 Minority Institution/Cancer Center Partnership of UMass Boston and Dana Farber Cancer Institute funded by the National Institute of Health/NCI. It is aimed at developing and testing an organizational-level intervention to disseminate information about cancer screening among Catholic Latinos. For more information contact Dr. María Idalí Torres or Dr. Jennifer D. Allen.


Todos Juntos con Seguro: Increasing Access to Health Insurance through Faith and Action (CPI 2014 001257, Office of Minority Health) uses a faith-based model aimed at increasing access to health insurance for underserved Spanish and Portuguese speaking communities through the Affordable Care Act. The geographic areas targeted by the project are Lawrence, Waltham, Pittsfield and the Berkshires, New Bedford/Fall River, and Greater Boston. We work with CRUZA -the Alliance for Latino Health through Faith and Action- to engage churches serving underserved populations as trusted venues for providing culturally and linguistically competent education, outreach and assistance aimed at enrolling individuals in an affordable and appropriate health insurance plan. Research is carried out by a paid site coordinator, faith leaders, and volunteers, with assistance from UMass Boston students, among others.

Por Ahí Dicen: Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Spanish Media PSAs Campaign to Promote Puerto Rican Mother-Child Communication about Sexuality and Sexual Health Protection. The primary purpose of Por Ahí Dicen is to highlight the experience of Puerto Rican mothers’ communication with their children regarding sexuality and sexual health, as well as the environmental and social factors that could be shaping this communication. Our main goals are (1) to develop a theory-based, culturally responsive, Spanish media campaign to target Puerto Rican mother-child communication about sexuality and sexual health protection, and (2) to implement and evaluate the effectiveness of the media campaign developed on Puerto Rican mothers’ outcome expectations, self-efficacy, and mother-child communication regarding sexuality and sexual health protection. Por Ahí Dicen is a research project of The Mauricio Gaston Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy, in collaboration with the Puerto Rican Cultural Center (PRCC). It’s one of the projects of the Center of Health Equity Intervention Research (CHEIR) funded by the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) #P60MD006912. 


The Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy

Healey Library, 10th Floor
University of Massachusetts Boston
100 Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, MA 02125-3393