Proyecto Carvajal para la Democratización del Conocimiento
The Center for University Access (CUA) is based at the Mayagüez campus of the University of Puerto Rico, and startedoperating in 2007. Its goal is to carry out academic research and outreach activities that address the connection betweensocioeconomic inequality, and to make a contribution to the important work of increasing the proportion of low incomestudents that apply, get admitted and graduate from public higher education in Puerto Rico. Its main project is the CarvajalProject for the Democratization of Knowledge (2008-2013), that with the support of the Carvajal Foundation, the Universityof Puerto Rico, and developing sinergies with other donors, carries out academic research with diverse methodologies andalso develops outreach activities with Mayagüez students, grades 7-12, that live in public housing projects.The following researchers are afﬁliated with the Center University Access:
Rima Brusi Gil de Lamadrid, Ph.D.
Anthropology: Ethnography and Qualitative Methods
Walter Díaz, Ph.D.
Political Science: Quantitative Methods, GIS
Lissette Rolón Collazo, Ph. D.
Humanities: Pedagogy and Critical Theories
David González, Ph. D
. Industrial Engineering: Institutional Statistics
About the Carvajal Working Paper Series
The Carvajal Working Papers are the product of academic research carried out as part of the Carvajal Project. The papersdescribe the ﬁndings of our research team, and aim to disseminate academic knowledge that may be relevant to thedevelopment of institutional and public policies directed at increasing access and success among low income populations. Eachpaper is based on original research and/or reviews of existing literature, and all include recommendations for policy andintervention.
About the 4th Working Paper
This study describes some of the ways in which urban poverty and marginality shapes educational inequality in Puerto Rico. Atotal of 11 individuals and one group life history interviews with residents of Mayagüez public housing projects wereconducted. The interviews were transcribed verbatim, coded in three levels, and analyzed for themes within and acrossnarratives. The life histories of youth and adults living in public housing shared four common themes: 1) chronic tragic lifeevents that dampened their academic aspirations; 2) the experience of growing up in the projects and the educational“apartheid” this often implies; 3) middle grades as a turning point, usually for the worst; and 4) institutional barriers in theschools.
Recommendations include interventions to develop college going skills and aspirations in middle school, the removalof simple barriers to college going with measures such as free college admissions testing in all public high schools, and shiftingthe “cultural” emphasis and the “values” conversation towards the cultures and values of the educational institutions that
should focus on expanding opportunity but instead often end up reproducing inequality.
About the photos
For this working paper we have used photos of an everyday scene in a Mayagüez public housing project. These photos presenta fragmented and incomplete reality, as the lives narrated in this text.Photographer: Grace Yace Santana