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Institutional Challenge Grant awarded to Alicia Sasser Modestino

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01/14/20 - BOSTON, MA. -Alicia Sasser Modestino poses for a portrait on Jan. 14, 2020. Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

The William T. Grant Foundation has awarded Alicia Sasser Modestino, Northeastern University, School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, and Rashad Cope, Department of Youth Engagement and Employment, City of Boston with an Institutional Challenge Grant in the amount of $650,000. The grant will support their ongoing research, Building a More Holistic and Inclusive Workforce Development System for Boston’s Youth, conducted through the Dukakis Center and in partnership with the City of Boston to evaluate the city’s summer jobs program. 

The Institutional Challenge Grant encourages university-based research institutes, schools, and centers to build sustained research-practice partnerships with public agencies or nonprofit organizations in order to reduce inequality in youth outcomes. The newest grants, amounting to nearly $2,000,000, are being awarded to Johns Hopkins University, Northeastern University, and the University of California Santa Cruz. These institutions will work in partnership with local nonprofits or public agencies to address challenges such as youth suicide, youth employment, and educational inequality.

Northeastern University is partnering with The City of Boston’s Department of Youth Engagement and Employment to reduce inequality among young people through the Boston Summer Youth Employment Program and other year-round workforce development programs that aim to improve long-term behavioral, economic, and academic outcomes for low-income young people. Building from an initial partnership formed through earlier collaborative work, the City of Boston has developed a joint research agenda with the university, through which the partnership will conduct a process evaluation to explore increasing coordination and alignment across youth-serving organizations and businesses; a differential impact study that explores what features strengthen the impacts of summer youth employment programs; an impact study of the new “earn and learn” pilot, where youth are paid to take college credits; and an impact study to assess the impact of a new virtual internship year-round employment program. For their part, Northeastern will pursue a number of organizational changes at the university to support community-engaged research, such as activities to build a supportive infrastructure for research-practice partnerships (RPPs), including post-doc and mid-career RPP positions; internal trainings on how to inform policy; incentives for RPP work, such as competitive grants and influencing merit review and promotion criteria; and efforts to change what it means to be a “successful researcher” at the university, including promoting RPP work internally and externally.

William T. Grant Foundation, April 20, 2021 newsletter

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