Urban Education, Prevention, & Policy Research

Project Theme(s): Vulnerable Populations & Community, Training, Consultation & Capacity Building, Community Engaged Research & Evaluation, Substance Use and Mental Health, Systems Change

Area Description: Research in the area of Urban Education, Prevention & Policy Research examines cultural and contextual factors that influence psycho-social, behavioral health, and achievement outcomes among low-income and minority youth populations in school and community settings. Research activities center on youth development and involve the design and assessment of preventive interventions that promote psychological adjustment and adaptive functioning toward the reduction of problem behaviors associated with negative developmental outcomes (e.g., substance use, delinquency, violence, risky behaviors).

Our team engages in comprehensive urban school reform efforts that engages schools and communities in the development, implementation and evaluation of systemic interventions designed to improve school climate, academic performance and educational trajectories of low-income and minority youth. Our research is funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

Regarding our work with families, UEPPR conducts research that investigates the influence of stress among mother-adolescent dyads and the buffering effect coping has on primary- and mental health outcomes for both mothers and teens, parenting practices, substance use and educational outcomes for adolescents. Our goal is to develop culturally congruent, family-focused interventions aimed at stress reduction and the development of effective coping skills to improve family functioning and quality of life.

Dr. Ward’s program of research examines ecological factors that influence social, behavioral, health, and achievement outcomes for low-income and minority youth. Research activities emphasize the development of social and behavioral interventions aimed at risk reduction and competence promotion among minority youth who are at high risk for delinquency, substance use, behavior problems, and academic failure. Currently, Dr. Ward is the principal investigator of a 14K, seven-year longitudinal study of a comprehensive urban school reform initiative that is designed to support the social-emotional, academic, and health outcomes among 3,000 low-income and urban middle and high school students. This study examines the impact of a comprehensive district-wide intervention on indicators of academic performance, educational aspirations and attainment, mental health, as well as social and behavioral indicators.

This study examines the influence of stress and coping on primary- and mental health outcomes among mother-adolescent dyads and the buffering effect coping has on primary- and mental health outcomes for mothers and teens, parenting practices, substance use, educational and developmental outcomes for adolescents. This study uses a mixed methods approach to understand the phenomenological experience of low-income, single mothers and their teenage children as relates to stress and coping. Intervention research will investigate the effectiveness of a family-focused intervention on stress reduction (as measured by biological markers), improved physical-and mental health outcomes, parenting practices as well as overall quality of family life.
Barbara F. Nangle, M.A.
Research Associate

Eddie Quiles, B.S.
Research Assistant

Joanne Richardson, B.S.
Program Coordinator

Patricia Simon, Ph.D.
Associate Research Scientist Study Coordinator for Motivational Interviewing Study

Michael Strambler, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry (Psychology)

Ekaterini Vlahos, B.S.
Research Assistant