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Dr. Luisa Blanco Selected as a Member of the 2019 Cohort of Interdisciplinary Research Leaders

Luisa Blanco

We are excited to announce that Luisa Blanco, associate professor of public policy at Pepperdine University School of Public Policy, has been selected to participate in one of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) leadership programs. These programs connect leaders across the country—from every profession and field—to learn from and work with one another in creating more just and thriving communities. 

Specifically, Blanco was selected for Interdisciplinary Research Leaders (IRL). Designed for teams of two researchers and one community leader, Interdisciplinary Research Leaders fosters collaborative leadership and supports fellows as they work with their communities to investigate critical issues and apply findings in real time to advance health and equity. 

As a member of the program’s newest cohort, Blanco will focus on designing a mobile intervention to improve money management skills and evaluate the impact of such intervention on financial behavior and stress. Blanco is representing the first Los Angeles team, along with April Thames, associate professor of psychology at the University of Southern California, and Isaias Hernandez, community development director at the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF). 

Research project description: 

Financial instability is a major public health issue due to its detrimental effects on mental health. Ethnic-racial minorities are disproportionately impacted and have limited resources for financial management. In response to this problem, we propose a randomized controlled trial to test the effectiveness of a mobile intervention for financial management and the impact of such intervention on self-reported stress and self-efficacy in a sample of low- to moderate-income Hispanics who are receiving services with the MAOF. The specific aims and hypotheses of our project cover two major areas: First, we will test the effectiveness of a mobile-based financial capability intervention (in English and Spanish) in comparison to the standard in-person financial capability program on behavioral changes (i.e., improved spending, saving, borrowing, and planning). Our hypothesis is that participants in the mobile intervention group will demonstrate greater behavioral change than participants in the standard financial capability group. Second, we will determine if changes in behaviors that demonstrate improvement in financial capability reduce self-reported stress and increase in self-efficacy. Our second hypothesis is that participants who demonstrate behavioral changes (increased financial capability) as a result of intervention will report greater psychological self-efficacy towards finance management and less stress than participants with no behavioral change. We will recruit 150 participants in Los Angeles that will be randomized to either an in-person financial capability program or mobile-based intervention group that will provide weekly education and financial exercises via mobile phone.

To learn more about Interdisciplinary Research Leaders and RWJF’s other leadership programs, and to meet other participants, visit IRLeaders.org. To learn more about IRL Team Los Angeles including Blanco, visit IRLeaders.org/team/team-los-angeles. Interdisciplinary Research Leaders is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation administered by the University of Minnesota.