Published: Aug. 22, 2023
Students gathered in a field, trees in background

The Summer Research Institute (SRI) engages high school students in research that addresses equity and social justice in the Cuba Independent School District (CISD) community in Northern New Mexico.  Offered each summer, starting in 2021, this 3-5 week academic program develops students’ knowledge of social justice issues and research methods with the goal of increasing students engagement in school and district level decision making. The demographic profile of SRI researchers mirrors that of CISD’s primarily Native American and Latine student population, and the program mixes students by grade level and across identities.

Each year faculty and graduate student researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder Research Hub for Youth Organizing (Research Hub) co-design and co-lead the program with CISD teachers.  In 2021 the SRI focused on education justice, in 2022 food justice was the focus, and culture and identity was the focus in 2023. The SRI curriculum includes several local field trips and community speakers.  At the end of each SRI students present their finding to the broader Cuba, New Mexico Community.

The SRI is part of a broader, CISD transformation initiative intended to increase educational equity by centering race and culture in curriculum and supporting students who have historically been marginalized within the school system. In addition to building student knowledge and voice, the program provides opportunities for students, teachers, and community members to build stronger relationships. It introduces students to different higher education and career pathways.  The SRI also develops students' professional skills while supporting social and emotional learning relevant to the workplace and higher education. Finally, the program provides teachers with professional development about culturally and linguistically sustaining teaching and learning strategies.

In addition to significant investment by CISD and CU Boulder, this project has been support by CU Outreach and Engagement,  the Women Investing in the School of Education (WISE) fund, and the Kellogg Foundation.

A policy memo about the 2021 SRI is here.

CU Boulder staff and students completed a formative evaluation of the 2022 SRI; you can see the final evaluation report here.