Chapman University’s Attallah College of Educational Studies celebrates the achievement of Dr. Stephany Cuevas, Assistant Professor, who has been awarded a grant of $49,015 from the Spencer Foundation. This grant supports her pivotal research project titled “Precarity and Education: Examining the Experiences of Central American Unaccompanied Youth in California Public Schools” and will be conducted in collaboration with Dr. Martha C. Franco from CSU Long Beach.

The funding will enable an expanded investigation into the educational experiences of Central American unaccompanied minors, a group that has traditionally been underrepresented in educational research. Dr. Cuevas will lead the project which builds upon her prior research initially supported by the college’s Solutions Grants program.

“This grant from the Spencer Foundation not only recognizes the urgency and necessity of our research but also empowers us to deepen our understanding of the educational journeys of Central American unaccompanied minors,” says Dr. Cuevas.

“By including the perspectives of the students and their families alongside those of educators and school leaders, we aim to create a holistic picture of the challenges these students face and the ways in which schools can better support their academic and emotional needs.”

This comprehensive study will take place across Alameda, Los Angeles, and Orange Counties—areas with the highest concentrations of unaccompanied minors in California. Through in-depth semi-structured interviews with students, families, educators, and school leaders, the research aims to uncover how these minors experience U.S. public schools and how the schools address their unique challenges.

Previously, Dr. Cuevas focused her efforts on understanding the perspectives of educators working with these students in Orange County public schools. Her earlier work, which was crucial in identifying the specific needs and challenges faced by unaccompanied minors, laid the groundwork for this broader study.

The project not only aims to enhance the academic and socioemotional support for Central American unaccompanied minors but also seeks to inform policy and educational practices that can improve their school experiences. The findings are expected to guide professional development workshops for educators with the hope of contributing to systemic changes within schools.

“We are thrilled to have supported Dr. Cuevas’s initial research through our Solutions Grants program at Attallah College,” says Attallah College Dean Roxanne Greitz Miller. “Her work is critical in highlighting the unique challenges and needs of Central American unaccompanied minors in our education system. With the additional support from the Spencer Foundation, we are eager to see how Dr. Cuevas’s expanded research will further contribute to our understanding and the development of effective interventions.”

Dr. Cuevas’s research is a testament to Attallah College’s commitment to supporting innovative educational studies that address the needs of diverse student populations.

Please visit our newsroom for more information about Dr. Cuevas’s research and other projects at Attallah College.