UCLA Labor Center

Labor Studies

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Through Community Scholars, hundreds of students and community leaders have come together to tackle pressing issues facing Los Angeles. One class’ research on “green jobs” led the city of Los Angeles to pass an ordinance that created the Los Angeles Green Retrofit and Workforce program to retrofit buildings across the city while creating good jobs. Another class led to a multi-union organizing effort on Los Angeles manufacturing. Many prominent institutions and resources also emerged from the program, including the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) and Strategic Action for a Just Economy (SAJE).

Students in the course develop concrete planning and project management skills, and expand their professional network by working closely with city and community leaders.

In 2015, the program focused on immigrant integration in Los Angeles, sparked by the recent increase in families and unaccompanied children arriving from Central America. Participating organizations include:

  • Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA)
  • Central American Resource Center (CARECEN)
  • National Immigration Law Center
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice
  • California Immigrant Policy Center
  • Miguel Contreras Foundation
  • Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Affairs
  • LAUSD, Council District 1


“Participating in the Community Scholars was a true highlight of my graduate studies and an incredibly rewarding experience. In no other course are you able to regularly interact with community leaders who are making change in Los Angeles now. Through Community Scholars, I gained a much deeper understanding of putting planning and policy tools into action, in forms that are useful and relevant to the community.” – Chanda Singh, Policy Analyst, PLACE Program, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (MURP 2010)

Community Scholars was a unique opportunity and really helps broaden students’ horizons by exposing them to people whose interests and perspectives aren’t necessarily informed by a formal education in planning. We got to work with media professionals, artists, and organizers who lent a different perspective to many of the issues that we dealt with — which is an incredibly valuable tool as you’re beginning your professional planning career.” -Richard France, Senior Associate, Estolano LeSar Perez Advisors (MURP 2010)

“As someone who focused on transportation while at UCLA, Community Scholars provided me with a great opportunity to learn more about community economic development, have a more hands on learning experience and to meet people working in different sectors from across Los Angeles, people that I’ve had the pleasure of working with professionally post graduation.” – Alexis Lantz, Policy Analyst, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (MURP 2010)




Community Scholars was an amazing opportunity that allowed me to meaningfully engage with activists, researchers, and community stakeholders interested in addressing systemic change to improve community. The work was grounded in community and is now the catalyst for policy improvements that are making lasting and real change for workers and vulnerable communities in LA. Community Scholars was the best part of graduate school, being part of something great!” – Hector Gutierrez, Food System Policy Analyst, Community Health Councils, Inc. (MURP 2013)

Community Scholars offered a critical opportunity to apply everything I brought to and learned from our Urban Planning MA program at UCLA. Participating in Community Scholars strengthened my foundation and relationships as a community advocate and further grounded my current work as a law student.” – Eden Jequinto, JD Candidate, UCLA. (MURP 2013)

Community Scholars is the best choice for any student looking to contribute towards an actual, grassroots, community-driven and lead campaign. For me, my experience was invaluable because I too had experienced wage theft! ” – Osvaldo Garcia, Assistant Project Manager, East LA Community Corporation (MURP 2013)

“Community scholars offered me the opportunity to experience and live through a coalition building process between students, organizers, community leaders, and educators. Through an intentional process we were able to build trust among all participants, learn about power dynamics and practice unlearning and undoing these harmful structures, while conducting powerful research alongside community leaders most impacted by oppressive policies and practices. This really is a once in a lifetime opportunity to have a strongly facilitated process– to set an example, really– for future coalition, organizing, and leadership work.” – Giulia Pasciuto, Associate Housing Planner, Puget Sound Regional Council (MURP 2013)