California State University, Sacramento

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Institute for Social Research College of Social Sciences & Interdisciplinary Studies

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Research Projects

The Institute for Social Research (ISR) has conducted hundreds of studies over the course of our 30-year history. Below are some examples of our current or recent projects.


CSU Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Program (LSAMP)

Sacramento State is the coordinator for all of the 23 CSU campuses participating in the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program: a National Science Foundation (NSF) program aimed at increasing the quality and quantity of under-represented minority students successfully completing programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

The CSU-LSAMP program is now in its sixth phase (STEM Pathways and Research Alliance- or SPaRA). The ISR is responsible for the implementation of the CSU LSAMP project’s evaluation, including obtaining and analyzing student and institutional outcome measures.


The ASPIRE (Achieving STEM Persistence through Interventions Related to Empowerment) project is leveraging NSF-developed resources in order to increase retention and decrease time to graduate for STEM students, as well as increasing retention of women and underrepresented minorities in the STEM workforce. ASPIRE builds on previous success of two NSF funded projects: The Sacramento State Peer-Assisted Student Success (PASS) Program and the Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) program. ISR will be evaluating the ECS PAL model and STEM Leadership Academy and its impact in increased persistence and workforce readiness for STEM majors at Sacramento State and if the ASPIRE project changes faculty and STEM student attitudes.


ISR has been contracted to evaluate the Sustainable Interdisciplinary Research to Inspire Undergraduate Success II (SIRIUS II) Project. SIRIUS II aims to address the poor retention rate of underrepresented minorities and women in STEM and the poor integration of transfer students to four-year institutions by incorporating Authentic Learning Experiences (ALEs) to benefit STEM students in Sacramento State and the Los Rios Community College District. SIRIUS II builds on the achievements of SIRIUS I project at Sacramento State, which led to the design, implementation, and integration of Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs) in biology, chemistry, geology and environmental studies departments. SIRIUS II is expanding that model to engage mathematics, statistics, geography, physics, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, and computer science departments. Furthermore, the faculty networks and knowledge gained from the project will be used generate new knowledge about Northern California’s water ecosystems.

Regional Studies

Valley Vision Sacramento Regional Attitudes Survey Panel

In partnership with Valley Vision, ISR created a representative survey panel of the Sacramento region to conduct surveys to assess public attitudes on issues important to the region. Since 2017, Sacramento region residents have answered surveys about civic amenities, transportation, livability, and the environment. Survey results have informed policy recommendations to help ensure that regional priorities reflect public values, interests and needs. The latest COVID-19 Resilience poll paints a picture of how the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has been impacting Sacramento region residents in all areas of their lives. Capital Public radio fielded the results.

California Elections Data Archive (CEDA)

CEDA is a joint project of the Center for California Studies, the ISR and the Office of the California Secretary of State.

The purpose of CEDA is to provide researchers, citizens, public agencies and other interested parties with a single repository of local election data. CEDA summarizes candidate and ballot measure results for county, city, community college and school district elections in three separate reports that have been published annually since 1995. Electronic CEDA reports and data sets are publicly available through the Sacramento State library.

View the California Elections Data Archive

Vulnerable Populations

Statewide Evaluation of the Youth Reinvestment Grant

The Youth Reinvestment Grant (YRG) program is administered by the CA Board of State and Community Corrections and is aimed at diverting youth in underserved communities from contact with the juvenile justice system. Local governments and community organizations have been awarded funds to provide academic and vocational services, case manager, mentoring, prosocial recreation, and behavioral and mental health services. ISR is serving as the statewide evaluator and collecting data from the YRG grantees, with an emphasis on the grant’s stated goals: reducing racial disparities and recidivism in the juvenile justice system. Our final report will be published in the spring of 2023.

Estimating Sex Trafficking in Sacramento County

ISR is partnering with the local organization Community Against Sexual Harm (CASH) to conduct a study to estimate scope and nature of sex trafficking in Sacramento County. This study is funded by the state of California, through the Department of Justice. In addition to providing an estimate of the scope of trafficking in the county, the goal of the project is to develop a trafficking estimation model to be replicated to estimate trafficking across municipalities in the state. This project will continue through 2022.

Sacramento County Children's Report Card

In partnership with the Child Abuse Prevention Center, ISR is developing a report card on the status of children in Sacramento County, for the Sacramento County Children's Trust Fund. The report card will be completed the summer of 2021.

Homelessness Point in Time Count (Sacramento Steps Forward)

Sacramento Steps Forward is the leading agency in the Sacramento region focusing on issues surrounding homelessness.

In 2019, ISR collaborated with Sacramento Steps Forward on a biennial project, required by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to collect and analyze specific data related to homeless individuals in the area. Through this partnership, policy and community stakeholders were provided data to be better equipped to implement practices that focus on reducing homelessness in Sacramento.

2019 Point in Time Report

2019 PIT Infographic

Sacramento Sheriff’s Department Smart Policing Initiative Evaluation (Bureau of Justice Assistance)

The ISR collaborated with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department and Sacramento Steps Forward on a multi-year project to address homelessness. As a research partner, the ISR provided guidelines on how to address homelessness with a data-based combination of these public safety and service approaches.

Environmental Issues

Evaluation of Sacramento Integrated Multimodal Place-Based Living (SIMPL) Project

ISR is partnering with Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (SHRA) to evaluate their SIMPL project in the Promise Zone River District. SIMPL project includes $23 million from the Transformative Climate Community (TCC) Program and $68.4 million of leveraged projects that promote the key strategies of equitable housing and neighborhood development, transit access and mobility, decarbonized energy, urban greening and green infrastructure, health and wellbeing. Read more about the SIMPL project.

California Heavy-Duty Vehicle Warranty Survey (2018)

In partnership with California Air Resources Board, ISR conducted a statewide economic impact study of on-road heavy-duty vehicle warranties. The information obtained from the ISR survey of vehicle owners/operators, repair show mechanics, and fleet owners was intended to facilitate an accurate calculation of the statewide costs of warranties and out of pocket repairs.

Health & Health Services

California Department of Aging, Evaluation of SNAP-Ed programming

The California Department of Aging (CDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) is focused on health promotion and obesity prevention for low income, older adults (60+). The CDA SNAP-Ed program is administered by sixteen Area Agencies on Aging, utilizing policy, systems, and environmental change; and direct and indirect education to promote behavioral changes in their target population. The CDA contracted ISR to serve as the evaluation consultant for the SNAP-Ed program. The assessment of program outcomes is required by the US Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, the original funding source for SNAP-Ed activities.

Santa Clara County Department of Public Health, Santa Clara Health Surveys

In partnership with the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, ISR created a representative survey panel of the Santa Clara county region.

Panel members are invited to participate in surveys about various public health issues, such as oral health and consumption and exposure to tobacco and marijuana. Survey results inform the Santa Clara County about the health status of its residents in order to the county to adequately meet their needs.

California Department of Public Health Youth and Young Adult Tobacco Purchasing Surveys

ISR is working with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to learn more about tobacco use among Californians. There are two main studies conducted annually for this project.

  • Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) Tobacco Retail Survey. Each year ISR conducts a telephone survey of tobacco retailers across the state to learn more about their awareness and support of tobacco laws and taxes, as well as their perceptions on how these issues might impact their business.
  • Young Adult Tobacco & E-Cigarette Purchase Survey. The Youth Tobacco Purchase Survey is a statewide data-collection effort conducted annually to capture the unlawful sales rate of tobacco to young adults under the age of 21. Researchers travel statewide with 18- and 19-year old Sacramento State students to purchase tobacco products and conduct site observations of tobacco retailer outlets. The study data provides the official California’s sales rate of tobacco to minors for that particular year.

Public Policy

Assessing the Impact of AB 60

Assembly Bill (AB) 60 (Stats. 2013, Ch. 524) – the Safe and Responsible Drivers Act – authorized the California Department of Motor Vehicles to issue an original driver license to persons with undocumented legal status in the United States, effective January 2015.

Given the potential impacts of AB 60 to lower both the percentage of unlicensed and uninsured motorists, the California Department of Insurance (CDI) contracted with ISR to better understand how the passage of AB60 may have affected a number of key outcomes, including the number of driver licenses issued, the number of applicants to CDI’s California Low Cost Auto (CLCA) insurance program, the percentage of uninsured motorists, including those involved in collisions and hit‐and‐run incidents.

Social Services

California Department of Social Services Adult Programs Division Hourly Task Guidelines Impact Evaluation

In partnership with CDSS-Adult Programs Division, ISR conducted a study to determine the impact of a legislative mandate on the roughly 400,000 state-wide recipients of in-home supportive services. The mandate changed guidelines for county social workers in how they conducted needs assessments for supportive services. ISR surveyed aid recipients, evaluated social worker education modules, analyzed changes in assessment outcomes, and explored appeals filed in protest of assessment outcomes. The study found that implementing Hourly Task Guidelines statewide created more uniformity in assessment outcomes, but without the expected reduction in program costs.

Community Care Licensing Division Key Indicator Tool Study

California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Community Care Licensing Division (CCL) streamlined multiple facility inspection forms using a Key Indicator Tool (KIT) inspection technique. ISR was contracted to review the forms and to develop new or improved versions following a review of agency data. ISR developed 15 electronic KITs for the various facility types they inspect, piloted the KITs state-wide, and evaluated pre- and post-KIT implementation results. CCL continues to use a number of KITs during routine annual inspections of eligible facilities.