Carleton awarded federal grant to study educational experiences of Somali and Latino/a high school students

9 January 2019

Carleton College is the recipient of a nearly $100,000 Community Conversations Research Grant to study the educational experiences of Somali and Latino/a high school students in Faribault, Minn. Carleton is one of just two liberal arts colleges in the nation to receive the federally-funded Community Conversations Research Grant, a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Anita Chikkatur, associate professor of educational studies, and Amel Gorani, director of the college’s Center for Community and Civic Engagement (CCCE) will be collaborating with the Faribault School District and two community organizations (Somali Community Resettlement Services and Community without Borders). Entitled “Participatory action research (PAR) on rural secondary education: experiences of diverse students, parents, and teachers,” the project focuses on the city of Faribault, a rural community with rapidly growing Latinx and Somali populations.

“I was excited to be a part of the team applying for this grant because of its insistence on positioning community members as the experts of their community,” said Chikkatur. “I now look forward to working in collaboration with members of the Faribault community and Carleton’s CCCE staff to build the capacity of students, teachers, and parents to critically examine the high school experience and to learn from and with each other.”

Faribault’s population of students of color has grown from about 25% in 2010 to more than 55% in 2018, a dramatic demographic change that has necessitated new ways to think about inclusive and culturally relevant education at the city’s public schools.

Rather than lament about disparate educational outcomes, this project will use participatory action research (PAR) to empower Faribault high school students and parents to document their experiences with the Faribault public school system, and to equip teachers to conduct PAR on teaching Somali and Latinx students.

The Corporation for National and Community Service is the federal agency that engages more than 5 million Americans in community-driven service. The Office of Research & Evaluation (ORE) hosts a research competition for institutions of higher education to advance scholarship on civic engagement, social capital, volunteering, and national service. These studies and findings serve to foster civic engagement and strengthen communities, both of which are central to the mission of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). For more information about the Community Conversations Research Grant program, visit

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