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The Center for Community-Initiated Research to Advance Racial Equity (CCIRARE), under the direction of Dr. Ann Curry-Stevens, aims to provide community groups with a visible and standardized pathway into Portland State University through which they can request research support. CCIRARE gives priority to research needs that hold the potential to advance racial equity, and thus carry forward the work conducted by Dr. Curry‐Stevens and the Coalition of Communities of Color (include CCC link) by expanding the availability of research support for community groups engaged in advocacy to advance racial equity.

About Us


Ann Curry-Stevens has been the Principle Investigator in a research partnership with the Coalition of Communities of Color since 2008. This partnership led to the release of a report, “Communities of Color in Multnomah County: An Unsettling Profile” in 2010 that details deep racial disparities between Whites and communities of color across 28 institutions and systems. Following have been reports on six separate communities of color, again detailing the disparities – this time, focusing on each community. The depth and breadth of disparities is alarming to White Portlanders though of little surprise for communities of color. This work has catalyzed awareness, support for reforms and real action. Improved living and working conditions have yet, however, to materialize. Ann is on faculty with Portland State University’s School of Social Work where she leads the school’s teaching in community social work and advances anti-oppressive practice. She moved to Portland from Toronto, Canada in 2007 with her partner and daughter.

Advisory Board

  • Lee Po Cha, Director, Asian Family Center
  • Matt Morton, Executive Director, Native American Youth and Family Center
  • Julia Meier, Director, Coalition of Communities of Color
  • Jilma Menses, Chief Diversity Officer, PSU
  • David Springer, Dean, School of Social Work, PSU
  • Ethan Johnson, Assistant Professor, Black Studies, PSU

Community Partners

  • Health and Human Services Committee, Coalition of Communities of Color
  • Education Committee, Coalition of Communities of Color
  • Community and Economic Development Committee, Coalition of Communities of Color
  • New Portlanders Policy Council, City of Portland
  • Center for Intercultural Organizing
  • Oregon Food Bank
  • Hacienda Community Development Commission

Research Fellows

  • Marie-Elena Reyes
  • Nadia Yang
  • Analucia Lopezrevoredo
  • Myste French
  • Matt Chorpenning
  • Carmen Butcher-Houston
  • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt

Vision Statement

The Center for Community‐Initiated Research to Advance Racial Equity (CCIRARE) aims to advance racial equity in the region, with PSU providing research support that responds to the research priorities of communities of color, and advances PSU’s commitment, “let knowledge serve the city.” Situated in the School of Social Work with emerging partnerships in additional departments, CCIRARE establishes a publicly-recognized “portal” to bring forward research needs, and receive responsive support from the Center.

The Model

Our vision is akin to those of the “science shops” that have been in existence in Europe over the last few decades, with communities leading the way in generating research needs and research questions. While the success of science shops has been well documented in the literature, none have been implemented in the USA. This will be the first such model of a center that is dedicated to community‐initiated research, and furthermore the first to hold racial equity as its central purpose.

We are pleased to be welcomed into the Regional Research Institute (within the School of Social Work) which holds a legacy of responding to community‐initiated research requests and in doing effective partnered research.

All research conducted in this work will be community‐based action research. The degree to which the community participates in the work will be determined on a case‐by‐case basis. In all cases, the community will initiate the research, which is beginning to be shown in the literature to have an important impact on outcomes.

Current Research Projects

1. Workforce Profiles in the Tri-County Area and Related Advocacy Activities

Civil service jobs are important – signaling both key economic opportunity (as these tend to be “good” jobs) as well as signs of meaningful social inclusion. This project aims to consolidate the data on the workforce composition, disaggregated by race, for the following jurisdictions and institutions: City of Portland, Multnomah County, Clackamas County, Washington County, TriMet, and Metro.

2. Granting Practices and Environmental Sustainability

In order to identify the expenditure of public and publicly-subsidized (foundations) funds, the CED Committee of the Coalition wants to discover the funding patterns in the area of environmental sustainability to assess its track record of funding communities of color. The goals are to assess how much funding has been received by communities of color, which organizations have been funded, and to then take this data and interpret its findings, and to provide the data that will assist the Coalition to identify an action plan to address anticipated disparities. Ultimately, the Committee aims to build capacity among Coalition members and other equity groups to advance their involvement in what is rapidly becoming a distinguishing feature of the region – environmental sustainability. It is anticipated that advocacy with relevant funding bodies will be part of this capacity development.

3. Collecting “Promising Practices” Literature for Workforce Diversification

The tools available to local governments to improve the diversity of employment opportunities in the region (for workers of color) can be expanded upon if we are able to determine practices, programs and policies that are successful in other regions. This project will identify “promising practices” at work across the nation that illustrates the measures that can be undertaken by local governments to enter market-based activities to support economic development with equity outcomes. These will include place-based practices, like local hiring for local transportation infrastructure investments.

4. Developing Protocol for the Implementation of a Community-Validated Definition and Metrics for “Culturally-Responsive Services”

The overall goal of this project is to develop a community-validated definition and performance benchmarks for culturally-responsive services. The combination of the two is referred to as the "protocol" and it is anticipated to have a similar scope and influence as the Coalition’s original work on “culturally-specific services” that was adopted into policy by Multnomah County.

5. Identifying Health and Human Service Funders

Many members of the Coalition operate culturally-specific health and human services, and are frequently frustrated by the lack of accountability that mainstream funders face in providing services for various communities of color. Having access to a documented set of funding opportunities (existing as well as anticipated) would help provide an environmental scan for the Coalition in terms of advocacy priorities for implementation of the protocol being developed above. Essentially, this research will help the Coalition establish "targets" for implementing the above protocol.

6. Disaggregating student achievement data by race and income (free and reduced lunch status)

Racial equity advocates in education frequently bump up against a myth that students of color are challenged in school not because of their minority racialized status, but rather because they are more likely to be poor. Very limited data is available on this issue – with only statewide 2009 data being made available on this topic. Our analysis of these data shows that relative affluence (not holding “free or reduced lunch status”) positively affects white student achievement levels while no such benefit exists for more affluent students of color. We want to repeat this research in Multnomah County and bring it into the current years of data. While it is unknown what will be uncovered in this research, knowing the details of achievement by race and additionally by income will assist in addressing this myth.

7. Education Policy Literature Review on Pathways to Reduce Disparities

This is an effort in knowledge transfer in order to consolidate what is known, and the degree to which it is known (as in the robustness of the research base) to help equip education advocates within the Coalition, and also in the Eliminating Disparities Collaborative, with insights on promising practices that have been illustrated to address disparities in other jurisdictions.

8. Newcomers to Portland: Strengths, Challenges and the Pathway Forward

Support is requested to consolidate what is known about the challenges and strengths facing newcomers to Portland, and more broadly to Multnomah County. Also desired are insights (attained through community consultations, literature review, and original research) on the following: regional history of action and inaction to support the integration of newcomers; myth busting to challenge dominant discourses, definitions and policies affecting the community, literature review on integration process, disparities synthesis, profiles of assets in these communities, and a policy roadmap for more successful integration of newcomers.

How does the Center operate?

Community groups addressing the needs of people and communities of color are invited to submit a request for research support to the Center for Community‐Initiated Research to Advance Racial Equity. We ask interested groups to identity the information they seek to gather though research, the ways in which they anticipate this research will strengthen their advocacy practice, and the desire timelines for the project. Their involvement in shaping the work continues throughout the process.

Please click here to download the request for research support form.


  • Annual reports (when available)
  • “Unsettling profiles” research reports