York College student who co-wrote Hispanic and Latinx study sees its effects

Cody Little, a 22-year-old intern with the Arthur J. Glatfelter Institute for Public Policy, co-authored the 75-page assessment published earlier this year.

Written by: Anthony Machcinski
Cody Little, a 22-year-old senior at York College of Pennsylvania, co-authored the York County Hispanic and Latinx Community Assessment as an intern with the Arthur J. Glatfelter Institute for Public Policy. (Photo by Caleb Robertson for Our York Media)

Cody Little sifted through page after page of data, and the more he kept reading, the more he was in shock.

Thousands of people in York County were trying to better their lives but simply didn’t have or weren’t aware of the resources available to help themselves.

“Normally, you always think, if someone wants to get a better job, they go do it,” says Cody, a senior at York College of Pennsylvania. “But, you don’t realize the challenges that some communities face.”

The 22-year-old intern with the Arthur J. Glatfelter Institute for Public Policy recently co-authored the York County Hispanic and Latinx Community Assessment, touted as one of the most important studies in recent York County history.

“He threw himself into York County and York City,” says Vinny Cannizzaro, a Glatfelter Public Policy Fellow. “In terms of the data analysis, without his work, the assessment wouldn’t have happened at all.”

Vinny Cannizzaro, a Glatfelter Public Policy Fellow, discusses the survey with Cody Little. (Photo by Caleb Robertson for Our York Media)

‘There was a problem’

Cody comes from a small town in Northumberland County, a few dozen miles north of Harrisburg. He admits it took a weird set of circumstances that brought him to the internship – and even to York College.

He and several other interns picked the studies they wanted from a batch the institute laid out for them. The Latinx study caught his eye.

The topic was interesting – using data to find barriers that blocked access to social services. What Cody didn’t realize in 2017 when he first began interning with the institute was the effect his work could have on the York community.

“There was a problem. Everyone was staring at it in the face, and no one could tell there was a problem,” Cody says. “There’s just an effect that these stats can have. No one can really see the problem until you send out those surveys and ask the people in the community what is wrong.”

Vinny Cannizzaro, left, and Cody Little, second from right, greet a group from CASA at York College’s Center for Community Engagement in downtown York. (Photo by Caleb Robertson for Our York Media)

Staggering numbers

The research of the study culminated in a 75-page document, revealing staggering numbers about the growing Hispanic population in York County.

For example, 80 percent of those surveyed earn less than $35,000 per year.

Further, the poverty rate among the Hispanic population was 32.1 percent in the county and 47.3 percent in the city. For comparison, the poverty rate in the county as a whole was 8.6 percent and 32 percent in the city.

The study also found that many of those surveyed spoke mainly Spanish and required someone, like their children, to translate things for them, including regular speech as well as bills.

Focus groups, which Cody often guided, expressed concern for English as a Second Language classes for those children, given the varying ages and range of languages children enrolled in the program speak.

“The study showed that these people want to work, they want to have a better life, but they just need the resources to do so,” Cody says.

Vinny Cannizzaro and Cody Little received help from CASA, who helped conduct surveys and reach the Hispanic and Latinx community. (Photo by Caleb Robertson for Our York Media)

Just the starting point

When Cody and Vinny began conducting the survey, they received help from CASA, an organization that looks to expand opportunities for Latinos and immigrants.

The group had been working in York County for years, creating programs already aimed at addressing many of the issues Cody and Vinny discovered in the survey.

“The conclusions of this study were not new to us,” Sara Salazar, a service coordinator for CASA, says through a translator. “We were aware of what’s been going on in the community. Our job is to take care of them.”

Even though the survey wasn’t news to them, the results opened the eyes of others in the community who hadn’t seen them.

While Laila Martin, a community organizer for CASA, was excited for the survey and the attention it received, she knows the job isn’t done.

“We need to look forward and see how we can improve,” she says. “This is just the starting point. It’s a good feeling for us to see we’re really working on issues that research shows were one of the main obstacles for our community.”

With the Hispanic and Latinx study completed, Cody Little is back to work with the Glatfelter Institute, gathering information for new studies into York County. (Photo by Caleb Robertson for Our York Media)

Building a foundation

Only a few months after the Latinx research was published, Cody and Vinny were back at work, researching and gathering information for new studies into York County. They’re currently working on a broader study of the county, ranging from economic health, to physical health insurance, birth rates and crime.

Cody expects to graduate from York College in May with a degree in Political Science, but he’s not headed north right after graduation.

He’s already built a foundation in his career, and he hopes to stay in York County, contributing to research like the Latinx study that can provide more insight and guide public policy.

“It’s nice to see the fruits of your labor and provide data that actually can help people and affect their lives,” Cody says. “The more I learn about the area, its problems and its successes, it’s built a better bond and makes me want to stay here.”

“He threw himself into York County and York City,” Vinny Cannizzaro says of Cody Little. “In terms of the data analysis, without his work, the assessment wouldn’t have happened at all.” (Photo by Caleb Robertson for Our York Media)

Story paid for by York College of Pennsylvania

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