Four Early Career Researchers Selected for 2019 Scholars Program

We are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2019 William T. Grant Scholars awards. Launched in 1982, the Scholars Program supports the professional development of promising researchers in the social, behavioral, and health sciences who have received their terminal degrees within the past seven years. To date, the program has sponsored more than 185 talented researchers.

Scholars receive $350,000 to execute rigorous five-year research plans that stretch their skills and knowledge into new disciplines, content areas, or methods. As they commence their projects, they build mentoring relationships with experts in areas pertinent to their development, and further their research and professional development through annual retreats and workshops with fellow Scholars, Foundation staff, and other senior researchers.

Senior Vice President Vivian Tseng remarked, “We are thrilled to welcome these remarkable academics to the William T. Grant Scholars Program. Each of them is stretching their expertise and careers in exciting new directions so that they will be better positioned to tackle the challenges of inequality. Their projects span racial inequality and welfare programs in rural communities, housing policies to help low-income families relocate to neighborhoods with more opportunities, the impact of justice system involvement and immigration enforcement on parents’ engagement with their children’s schools, and programs to improve academic and social outcomes for low-income college students. By supporting their research agendas and professional development, the William T. Grant Scholars Program seeks to contribute to a bright new generation of scholars who will bring rigorous research to youth policies, programs, and practices to reduce inequality for young people in the U.S.”

2019 William T. Grant Scholars

Carolyn Barnes is an assistant professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. With her Scholars award, she will investigate how the distinctive features of rural southern communities influence the organizational practices of local public welfare agencies, as well as how these practices alleviate or contribute to racial inequality in poor rural communities and how experiences with public welfare agencies shape family processes and adolescent development outcomes. Barnes will conduct community and organizational ethnography to develop theory to explain how local power structures influence policy implementation. She will also examine how well rural counties perform on federal and state performance indicators when compared to urban counties and look at variation in program use within rural counties and across rural and urban counties over two years. Barnes will extend her expertise in ethnography and social policy to develop new expertise in theories of child development, as well as new methodological skills in mixed methods and quantitative analysis. Her mentors are Linda Burton, James B. Duke Professor of Sociology at Duke University and a leading ethnographer in the area of poverty and family processes, and Lynne Vernon-Feagans, Senior Research Scientist at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute and a leading expert in child development and rural poverty.

Anna R. Haskins is an assistant professor in the College of Arts & Sciences at Cornell University. With her Scholars award, she will study whether and how involvement in criminal justice, immigration enforcement, and child welfare systems undermine parental involvement in children’s education. Her study comprises three complementary qualitative projects that will iteratively highlight mechanisms, processes, and meanings that can help explain associations observed in previous quantitative work. The first draws on in-depth interviews from system-involved parents, the second explores the perspectives of school personnel, and the third provides a contextual component by collecting school characteristics data via school observations. Haskins, a quantitative sociologist with expertise in documenting the causal effects of paternal incarceration on children’s education outcomes, will develop qualitative research skills and acquire expertise in immigration enforcement. She will meet regularly with her mentors, Mary Pattillo, the Harold Washington Professor of Sociology and African American Studies at Northwestern University, and Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes, professor and chair of the Department of Economics at San Diego State University. Pattillo will mentor Haskins on qualitative field research methods, and Amuedo-Dorantes will lead Haskins in a directed study on the complexities and consequences of immigration enforcement within the U.S., particularly for children’s schooling.

Ann Owens is an associate professor in the department of Sociology at the University of Southern California. Her Scholars award research will focus on programs and policies to help low-income families with children move to higher opportunity neighborhoods, as well as the potential promise of place-based opportunity (PBO) models that provide affordable housing in specific neighborhoods. Owens will complete a national analysis of housing opportunities and outcomes for low-income families with children, identify and describe PBO models using a national survey and in-depth case studies, and evaluate whether PBO models succeed in providing access to advantageous opportunities for children. With experience in using quantitative analyses of administrative datasets to describe patterns of inequality, Owens now aims to gain new expertise in qualitative methods, housing policy, and policy analysis. Her mentors, Stefanie DeLuca, James Coleman Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at Johns Hopkins University, and Gary Painter, Professor at the Sol Price School of Public Policy at USC, an expert in program evaluation, will provide support and feedback on areas including research design, data collection, analyses, and written products.

Adela Soliz is an assistant professor of higher education and public policy in the department of Leadership, Policy & Organizations at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College. With this award, she will explore the extent to which the Federal Work-Study Program can be leveraged to improve college persistence, completion, and labor market access for low-income college students. Soliz will conduct interviews with financial aid administrators at public universities in order to understand contextual factors that affect the administration of the FWS Program, conduct a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the causal effect of receiving a work-study offer on students’ academic and labor-market outcomes, and develop a survey instrument to explore how students make decisions about working during the school year. Soliz’s research to date has used quantitative analyses of secondary data sources to examine how policies and programs impact college access and success, particularly for economically disadvantaged students. This study will develop her expertise in the design and implementation of a mixed-methods field experiment. Rebecca Maynard, University Trustee Professor of Education and Social Policy at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education , will mentor Soliz on the design and implementation of a field experiment, and Judith Scott-Clayton, associate professor of Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University will mentor her on the Federal Work-Study Program and financial aid policy more broadly.

Each year, the Foundation selects a handful of new William T. Grant Scholars from a highly competitive pool of applicants who are nominated by their institutions. The applications are reviewed by a selection committee of prominent senior academics. A small group of finalists are invited to New York for interviews. The online application for 2020 awards is now open, and all applications are due by July 2, 2019 at 3:00 PM EST.

Read more about funding criteria, eligibility, required documents, and applying online.

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