Lenore Neier
Communications Manager
William T. Grant Foundation
(212) 752-0071


PROVIDENCE – Brown University’s Annenberg Institute for School Reform (AISR) was awarded a three-year, $600,000 research grant from the William T. Grant Foundation to study how participation in youth organizing can influence the developmental path of youth living in poverty and youth of color, announced Michael Grady, AISR interim executive director.

Matthew Diemer, associate professor in Educational Studies at the University of Michigan, is a co-principal investigator along with AISR Principal Associate Sara McAlister.

The project, entitled “Youth Organizing Trajectories: Critical Consciousness, Developmental Competencies, and School Engagement,” is funded under the foundation’s Reducing Inequality focus area. This grant supports high-quality, empirical studies that examine programs, policies, and practices that can reduce inequality among young people in the United States.

“Our educational systems provide young people of color and those living in poverty less access to civic participation and leadership development opportunities than their more affluent peers,” said Grady.  “This study aims to examine the potentially transformative relationship between youth organizing and the development paths of marginalized youth, with an eye toward increasing their postsecondary enrollment and degree completion rates.”

Prior research suggests that participation in youth organizing can improve college-going rates and civic participation among youth marginalized by systemic inequality. This study will examine specific ways in which youth organizing participation is related to school engagement and later postsecondary outcomes. The proposed study will be the first to ask whether youth organizing activities support the development of critical consciousness (the capacity and commitment to producing social and political change) and developmental competencies (behaviors and attitudes critical to academic and later success).

The research will be conducted in partnership with established youth organizing groups with track records of success on education justice campaigns in New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Providence.  The research team will follow three cohorts of youth organizing participants, as well as comparison groups of youth participating in other out-of-school-time activities that do not focus on activism.

“By following participants from recruitment through several years of participation, we hope to identify the key factors and specific pathways in which youth organizing supports positive developmental results,” adds Grady.  “The findings will have implications for scholarship on youth development, critical approaches to education, and postsecondary readiness.”

About the Foundation

The William T. Grant Foundation is a private philanthropy that invests in high-quality research with the potential to advance theory, policy, and practice related to children and youth in the United States. Currently, the Foundation is interested in understanding how to reduce inequality among young people and how to improve the use of research evidence in policy and practice.

Research grants target researchers at all stages of their career for high quality empirical projects that fit one of the Foundation’s two focus areas. The largest of their three programs for researchers, research grants are awarded three times each year; the Foundation awarded five grants in 2016 for projects that will address inequality in youth outcomes. The Foundation is interested in inequality by race, ethnicity, economic standing, and immigrant origin status as it plays out across a range of systems, including education, child welfare, and justice systems. 


# # #