The Inland Empire (I.E.) covers 60 miles from north to south and ~50 miles east to west, and is comprised of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Its vast, sparse geographical landscape includes urban, semi-urban, and rural areas. It has a population of more than 4.5 million Californians—over 11 percent of the state’s population—and is one of the fastest growing regions in the state. According to census data, the Inland Empire is experiencing a growth in population given the high housing prices in other Southern California counties, which has resulted in an increasing flow of residents moving from the Los Angeles metro area to the Riverside metro area.
The change in the regions’ racial composition combined with the population growth of young people of color poses serious implications for the future of this region when thinking about young peoples’ civic participation and overall well-being. The great majority of young people are Latinx youth who are members of low-income and/or immigrant families. This means the regions’ youth have significantly higher poverty rates than the region’s adults.
Our research was guided by the following questions:
What are challenges and opportunities to increase civic participation of youth of color, ages 17-21, in three urban areas–the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles region, and Inland Empire?
How do psycho-social well-being factors encourage or hinder civic engagement?
What role does racial identity and well-being play in civic engagement for youth of color?
What are promising opportunities to increase civic engagement by improving psycho-social well-being in which the Irvine Foundation may want to consider investing?