Research Scholars Program

The goal of the Research Scholars Program is to support and expand the pipeline of emerging scholars, including those from historically underrepresented populations, pursuing research on Hispanic children and families that can inform programs, policies, and services to promote the social and economic well-being of Hispanic children and families.


The National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families (Center) invites advanced doctoral students (those with ABD status), and early career scholars (up to 5 years post-Ph.D.) to submit applications for our Research Scholars Program. Up to two awards will be given to scholars interested in pursuing research in one of the Center’s four research priority areas: (1) fatherhood, family structure, and family dynamics; (2) early care and education; (3) poverty reduction and self-sufficiency; and/or (4) cross-cutting topics. Scholars will work remotely on a project with a Center mentor for approximately one day a week for 12 months and will be a part of a collaborative research team. Each Scholar will receive a $7,500 stipend. The period for questions about the program is now closed. The application deadline has been extended to April 1, 2020 by 5:00 PM ET.

Program description

Each Scholar will work remotely for 12 months with a lead Center investigator in an ongoing Center project. Projects fall within one of the Center’s research priority areas: (1) fatherhood, family structure, and family dynamics; (2) early care and education; (3) poverty reduction and self-sufficiency; and/or (4) cross-cutting topics. Because a 12-month fellowship may not provide enough time to complete a new project, scholars will collaborate with lead investigators on an existing project and build on existing work, rather than complete an independent project.

Examples of work Scholars may engage in during the Program include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Fatherhood, family structure, and family dynamics: Collaborate in projects using healthy marriage and relationship education (HMRE) evaluation datasets (e.g., the Supporting Healthy Marriage evaluation dataset) to understand Hispanic families and their participation in HMRE programs; or use population-based data to provide a descriptive profile of Hispanic families in rural communities.
  • Early care and education: Contribute to a project examining how the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) is implemented on-the-ground by taking a close look at implementation practices in two states.
  • Poverty reduction and self-sufficiency: Collaborate on a project to profile state Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) policies in states with high populations of low-income Hispanic children.
  • Cross-cutting topics: Help support the data analysis and writing of a research brief on: (1) the housing patterns of low-income households of Hispanic families with children; (2) the employment patterns of unauthorized Hispanic parents; or (3) the mental health of Latino youth and parents.

Learn more about our current and future research projects.

Mentorship: Each Scholar will be matched with one of the Center’s lead investigators, who will serve as a mentor. This mentor will meet with the Scholar weekly and help to identify the scope of the Scholar’s work to be completed during the Program. When appropriate, the Scholar will also receive support from other Center staff to further support their overall professional development goals. Learn more about the Center investigators.

Collaboration and Networking: Scholars will participate in biweekly calls with the Center’s Steering Committee (composed of the Hispanic Center Directors, Co-Investigators, and Federal Program Officers) and will have the opportunity to share their proposed work for feedback from committee members. They will also have opportunities to participate in Center capacity-building and professional development activities, such as webinars; conference panels; mentoring and networking activities; developing interactive data tools, Hispanic Family Facts, or data training events; and training in social media, accessible writing, and data visualization.

Funding: We anticipate funding up to two Research Scholars in 2020. Each Scholar will receive a $7,500 stipend for a 12-month period. The estimated time commitment to Program-related activities is approximately one day’s worth of work per week.

Eligibility criteria

  1. Current enrollment in a doctoral program with ABD status (i.e., having fulfilled all program requirements except for writing and defending their dissertation) and early career scholars (up to 5 years post-Ph.D.).
  2. A strong interest in conducting research to support the social and economic well-being of Hispanic children and families.
  3. Research or professional experience or interest related to: (1) fatherhood, family structure, and family dynamics; (2) early care and education; (3) poverty reduction and self-sufficiency; and/or (4) cross-cutting topics (see our FAQ for more information on cross-cutting topics) (updated March 19, 2020).

We strongly encourage scholars from populations historically underrepresented in the research and academic fields (e.g., those from Hispanic backgrounds, first-generation graduate students) and those from Hispanic-serving institutions to apply.

Application requirements

Applications are due by 5:00 PM ET on April 1, 2020, with the following components:

1. Personal statement (no longer than four single-spaced pages) that includes the applicant’s:

  • Research experience and relevant background
  • Interest in research concerning Hispanic children and families
  • Interest and relevant research or professional experience in one or more of the Center’s research priority areas: (1) fatherhood, family structure, and family dynamics; (2) early care and education; (3) poverty reduction and self-sufficiency; and/or (4) cross-cutting research, and relevant research and/or professional experience in these areas.
  • Applicants with special interest in any of the Center’s current research projects should express that interest in their application and describe relevant skills or experience applicable to the topic or proposed study.
  • Interest in and goals for the Hispanic Center Research Scholars Program and relevant educational and professional development goals.

2. Current resume or curriculum vitae (CV) providing information about the applicant’s educational background, publications, presentations, and any professional or public policy experience relevant to the work of the Center (4-page maximum).

3. Two letters of recommendation addressing:

  • The applicant’s relevant background and qualifications, including training and research experience.
  • Professional development goals, interests or needs pertinent to the goals of the Program.
  • For current graduate students, one letter should be from their advisor with verification of the student’s ABD status.

Please consult the updated Frequently Asked Questions for more information about submitting letters of recommendation. 

All three components of the application (personal statement, resume/CV, and letters of recommendation) must be submitted as a single PDF. 


If you have any issues with the online submission process, please email the combined PDF to, with “Hispanic Center Research Scholars Program” in the subject line.

Evaluation criteria

Applications will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  1. Quantitative and/or qualitative analytic experience and other research training.
  2. Research interest and/or experience studying Hispanic families and children.
  3. Research interests and/or research experience fit with one or more of the Center’s Priority Areas.
  4. Professional development goals and the extent to which the Hispanic Research Scholars Program is expected to advance those goals.
  5. Overall writing quality and organization of the application.
  6. Letters of recommendation (and their assessment of the applicant’s research background, interests and experiences, pursuits and accomplishments thus far, and professional development goals).
  7. Determination that the applicant is either (a) an advanced doctoral student in good standing and has fulfilled all program requirements except for writing and defending their dissertation, or (b) an early career scholar (as evidenced by the number of years since graduation).

Applications will be reviewed by the Hispanic Center Steering Committee. The Steering Committee expects to select one candidate at the advanced doctoral student level and one at the early career level. Applicants will be notified of the outcome of the review process, with a summary that includes reviewers’ scores and comments, by May 1, 2020.

Contact information and questions

For additional program information, you can also reference the Program’s FAQs (updated March 19, 2020). If you have any questions about the submission process, please contact, with “Hispanic Center Research Scholars Program” in the subject line. The period for questions about the program closed on February 19, 2020. No phone calls, please.


2019 Research Scholars

Kevin Ferreira van Leer, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor at California State University, Sacramento. His research examines the social and cultural contexts that promote positive development, liberation, and human rights for immigrants of color and their families. As he settles into his new home of Sacramento, he is exploring community collaborations to address access to quality education and the increasing human rights attacks with local Latinx migrant communities. Dr. Ferreira van Leer is the co-chair of the Immigrant Justice working group of the Society for Community Research and Action (SCRA) and collaborated on SCRA’s Policy Statement on the Incarceration of Undocumented Immigrant Families. He received his Ph.D. in Applied Developmental and Education Psychology from Boston College.

Megan Finno-Velasquez, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at New Mexico State University and is the Director of The Center on Immigration and Child Welfare, a national peer membership organization that fosters cross-sector collaboration by linking and supporting professionals across the child welfare, immigration and legal fields. Dr. Finno-Velasquez’s current work focuses on improving the broader child welfare system’s response to the unique needs of immigrant families at risk of child protective services involvement in the present immigration landscape. Her research interests include child welfare and immigration policy, maltreatment prevention in culturally diverse communities, and cultural competence in child welfare services. She received her Ph.D. in Social Work from University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA.

Past Research Scholars

2016 Research Scholars

Zoelene Hill, Ph.D.

Christina Padilla, M.P.P.

2015 Research Scholars

Wyatt Clarke

Soojin Oh Park, Ph.D.

2014 Research Scholars

Marta Alvira-Hammond, M.A.

Arya Ansari, Ph.D.

Henry Gonzalez, Ph.D.