Dr. Victor Rios | Award-Winning Educator, Author of Six Books, Subject of "The Pushouts" Documentary.

Dr. Victor Rios

Award-Winning Educator, Author of Six Books, Subject of "The Pushouts" Documentary.

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Santa Barbara, California

Dr. Victor Rios

Dr. Victor Rios is Associate Dean of Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He received his Ph.D. at the University of California Berkeley in 2005.

Professor Rios has worked with local school districts to develop programs and curricula aimed at improving the quality of interactions between authority figures and youths. Using his personal experience of living on the streets, dropping out of school, and being incarcerated as a juvenile--along with his research findings--he has developed interventions for marginalized students aimed at promoting personal transformation and civic engagement. These programs have been implemented in Los Angeles, California (Watts), juvenile detention facilities, and alternative high schools.

He is the author of six books including My Teacher Believes in Me: The Educator's Guide to At-Promise Students (2019), Street Life: Poverty, Gangs, and a Ph.D. (2011), Buscando Vida, Encontrando Exito: La Fuerza de La Cultura Latina en la Educacion (2016), and Human Targets: Schools, Police, and the Criminalization of Latino Youth (2017).

Dr. Rios has been featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Ted Talks, the Oprah Winfrey Network, Primer Impacto, and National Public Radio. He has had the honor of meeting President Obama and advising his administration on gun violence and policing. His Ted Talk "Help for kids the education system ignores" has garnered over 1.4 Million views. He is the subject of the documentary film The Pushouts.

Dr. Victor Rios
Featured Videos

Current: TED: Help For Kids The Education System Ignores

Time 11:54

More Videos From Dr. Victor Rios

TED: Help For Kids The Education System Ignores
Time 11:54
Providing Emotional Support to Students
Time 00:38
The Pushouts
Time 04:38
One Man's Journey From Gang Member to Academia
Time 09:32

Dr. Victor Rios
Featured Keynote Programs

School Assemblies

In his riveting assembly presentations, Dr. Victor Rios uses his personal story to discuss how personal "illusions" contribute to academic failure. He speaks about how young people often use their "attitude" to solve their problems and how this strategy often leads to detrimental consequences, such as the murder of his best friend at age 15. He discusses practical pathways to transformation relevant to the lives of students. Dr. Rios speaks about his own personal transformation by taking advantage of the support that teachers and programs provided him and discusses how these efforts can be replicated. Students are left with practical strategies on how to create a college-going culture.

Building Empathic Communities Through Emotion-Informed Approaches in Educational Leadership

Behind students who overcome adversity to successfully navigate the higher education pipeline, you’ll often find the actions of an emotionally relevant educator. In this session, Victor Rios will draw on his research and experience to emphasize the importance of emotional support from educators in the lives of marginalized students and discuss how education leaders can train teachers to play a powerful role in guiding students that have been left behind. Learn about the concept of Educator Projected Self-Actualization and how to use it to improve student outcomes and leave with examples of practical strategies that work in helping at-promise students succeed.

Dr. Rios has conducted keynote presentations with community college faculty and staff at over thirty California, Texas, and Nevada community colleges. He recently keynoted the California Community League of California CEO Symposium with over eighty Presidents and administrators in attendance.

Film Screening

Dr. Rios screens his film The Pushouts and hosts a Q&A session with participants. This screening and Q&A can be arranged through Webinar format as well.

Virtual Presentation

Dr. Rios has developed webinars for students, parents, and teachers. The Educational Trinity Series: Students, Parents, and Teachers. Each Webinar is intended for each of these stakeholders. The Student Webinar is intended to motivate and inspire our at-promise students. The Parent Webinar, “Strategies for Supporting your Children during covid-19 ” keeps parents hopes up and provides specific ideas for negotiating with their children during these difficult times (available in Spanish).

Reaching At-Promise Students through Emotional Support During the Remote Learning Revolution
A webinar for educators that provides strategies for continuing to support our most vulnerable students during these difficult times I am happy to provide this Webinar to your educators and then host virtual office hours after to discuss their individual questions in a one-on-one setting.

My School Believes in Me: Culturally Responsive Approaches for Reaching Students Through Remote Remote Teaching and Remote Counseling:
In this Webinar Dr. Rios will discuss culturally responsive strategies for providing guidance, counseling, and support for students. Dr. Rios will share his research findings from a research project with 1879 high school students. He will discuss student perceptions of counselors and teachers who are successful at inspiring and motivating them. A veteran LCSW joins Dr. Rios the call to discuss strategies for connecting with students in a culturally responsive manner. Special guest, former NFL Football player, Love Jefferson will join as well to discuss EQ (emotional quotient) activities to conduct with students to break the ice created by virtual communication.

The Anti-Racist Educator: Engaging with Students through an Equity and Justice Framework:
In recent months, young people all over the world have erupted in protest over the killing of unarmed Black civilians by police. Should educators ignore these protests and calls for anti-racism? How can educators have genuine conversations with their students about these important issues and other issues related to Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion? Dr. Rios provides educators practical strategies for being reflexive about anti-racism and for having courageous conversations with their students and their colleagues.

Dr. Victor Rios
Featured Books

Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boysby Dr. Victor Rios

Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys

by Dr. Victor Rios

Honorable Mention, 2014 Eduardo Bonilla-Silva Outstanding Book Award presented by the Society for the Study of Social Problems


2012 Best Book Award, Latino/a Sociology Section, presented by the American Sociological Association


2012 Finalist, C. Wright Mills Book Award presented by the Study of Social Problems

Victor Rios grew up in the ghetto of Oakland, California in the 1980s and 90s. A former gang member and juvenile delinquent, Rios managed to escape the bleak outcome of many of his friends and earned a PhD at Berkeley and returned to his hometown to study how inner city young Latino and African American boys develop their sense of self in the midst of crime and intense policing.Punished examines the difficult lives of these young men, who now face punitive policies in their schools, communities, and a world where they are constantly policed and stigmatized.

Rios followed a group of forty delinquent Black and Latino boys for three years. These boys found themselves in a vicious cycle, caught in a spiral of punishment and incarceration as they were harassed, profiled, watched, and disciplined at young ages, even before they had committed any crimes, eventually leading many of them to fulfill the destiny expected of them. But beyond a fatalistic account of these marginalized young men, Rios finds that the very system that criminalizes them and limits their opportunities, sparks resistance and a raised consciousness that motivates some to transform their lives and become productive citizens. Ultimately, he argues that by understanding the lives of the young men who are criminalized and pipelined through the criminal justice system, we can begin to develop empathic solutions which support these young men in their development and to eliminate the culture of punishment that has become an overbearing part of their everyday lives.

Street Life: Poverty, Gangs, and a Ph.D. by Dr. Victor Rios

Street Life: Poverty, Gangs, and a Ph.D.

by Dr. Victor Rios
Human Targetsby Dr. Victor Rios

Human Targets

by Dr. Victor Rios

At fifteen, Victor Rios found himself a human target--flat on his ass amid a hail of shotgun fire, desperate for money and a place on the street. Faced with the choice of escalating a drug turf war or eking out a living elsewhere, he turned to a teacher, who mentored him and helped him find a job at an auto shop. That job would alter the course of his whole life--putting him on the road to college and eventually a PhD. Now, Rios is a rising star, hailed for his work studying the lives of African American and Latino youth.

In Human Targets, Rios takes us to the streets of California, where we encounter young men who find themselves in much the same situation as fifteen-year-old Victor. We follow young gang members into schools, homes, community organizations, and detention facilities, watch them interact with police, grow up to become fathers, get jobs, get rap sheets--and in some cases get killed. What is it that sets apart young people like Rios who succeed and survive from the ones who don't? Rios makes a powerful case that the traditional good kid/bad kid, street kid/decent kid dichotomy is much too simplistic, arguing instead that authorities and institutions help create these identities--and that they can play an instrumental role in providing young people with the resources for shifting between roles. In Rios's account, to be a poor Latino youth is to be a human target--victimized and considered an enemy by others, viewed as a threat to law enforcement and schools, and burdened by stigma, disrepute, and punishment. That has to change.

This is not another sensationalistic account of gang bangers. Instead, the book is a powerful look at how authority figures succeed--and fail--at seeing the multi-faceted identities of at-risk youths, youths who succeed--and fail--at demonstrating to the system that they are ready to change their lives. In our post-Ferguson era, Human Targets is essential reading.

Dr. Victor Rios
Featured Reviews

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