Bridging Institutions to Close Youth Opportunity Gaps

This grant will strengthen an emerging partnership between the University of Virginia and Albemarle County Public Schools.

While the the University of Virginia has long supported local school districts, efforts to address deeply ingrained racial and economic inequalities in the area surrounding campus have been inconsistent and uncoordinated. Working through the university’s Center for the Redress of Inequity through Community-Engaged Scholarship (the Equity Center), this project seeks to reduce barriers to college and career readiness for youth of color and youth from low-income backgrounds from the local community surrounding the university. The partners propose a quasi-experimental, mixed-methods study to examine the impact of Starr Hills Pathways, a cohort program that aims to improve college- and career-readiness for students of color and students from low-income families. The program, co-developed by the Equity Center and the school district, recruits rising 7th-graders to participate in year-round career exploration, academic support, mentoring, and family-centered support services through high school graduation. Findings from the study will support the capacity of ACPS to develop strategies schools may use to improve student outcomes. The grant will also advance the University of Virginia’s commitment to community-engaged research. First, the university will match this grant to The Equity Center, per an agreement developed with the President in 2021, which will double the impact of the award. Second, the Equity Center will lead various efforts to elevate and promote its mission to build and sustain research practice-partnerships within the greater Charlottesville region to address racial and economic inequities. In addition, the team will work with the Provost’s Office and the university’s Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to outline and distribute best practices for supporting community-engaged research across university departments, as well as identify benchmarks for success.

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