The Hispanic Research Center (HRC) was established by the Arizona Board of Regents on March 1, 1985. The HRC conducts both artistic activities and interdisciplinary basic and applied research on a wide range of topics related to U.S. Hispanic populations, particularly Mexican Americans. The HRC is evaluated by standards established by the Office of Vice President for Research. These standards include:

In 1989, the HRC implemented the Community Documentation Program (CDP) in order to link the knowledge-generating capacity of the university with social issues, problems, and opportunities facing the Hispanic/Chicano community, through community-based organizations.

Effective July 1, 1997, the CDP was renamed, expanded, and reorganized as the Community Art and Research Outreach (CARO). The form for requesting support was modified. Evaluation, artistic activities, joint grant proposal writing, and other non-research activities were given new prominence in the guidelines and forms, better reflecting what has been the actual past practice of this program.

The scope of CARO's mission is nationwide although its primary focus is the State of Arizona and the Southwest region generally.

CARO's numerous roles include the following: