Session: Reducing Pittsburgh's Racial and Economic Inequality: The Work of Pitt-Assisted Communities and Schools (PACS) (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

254 Reducing Pittsburgh's Racial and Economic Inequality: The Work of Pitt-Assisted Communities and Schools (PACS)

Saturday, January 18, 2020: 4:00 PM-5:30 PM
Treasury, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Race and Ethnicity (R&E)
Symposium Organizer:
James Huguley, Ed.D, University of Pittsburgh
John Wallace, PhD, University of Pittsburgh
Decades after the collapse of the steel industry, Pittsburgh is experiencing what has been called its “third renaissance.” This renaissance is dominated by tremendous growth in the city's educational, medical and technology sectors. As a result of its economic and social transformation, Pittsburgh is consistently ranked as one of the most livable cities in America, and in fact the world.

Yet despite its numerous accolades and strong economic growth, a closer look at the data reveal that Pittsburgh's transformation has not benefited all of its residents equally. In fact, according to data published by the Brookings Institute, on some metrics, Pittsburgh leads the nation in racial and economic inequality. For example, African Americans in Pittsburgh earn only $0.52 for each $1 earned by their white counterparts. Further, compared to the nation's 100 largest metro areas, between 2007 and 2017, Pittsburgh ranked 96th in the change in white/people of color median earnings gap (i.e., the gap increased by $5,349) and 94th in the change in white/people of color relative poverty gap (i.e., the gap increased by 5.4%).

In response to these inequities, Pitt's School of Social Work's and Center on Race and Social Problems developed Pitt-Assisted Communities and Schools (PACS), a community-based research-to-practice initiative with a mission of mobilizing university resources to simultaneously 1) enrich the lives of African American children, youth, and families, and 2) advance Pitt's commitment to transformative research, learning, and impact. PACS connects faculty and students from across the university with preK-12 school principals, teachers, student services professionals, community residents, and community-based organizations to design, implement, and evaluate a suite of interventions and participatory research initiatives supporting the well-being of youth and families in distressed neighborhoods.

In this symposium we highlight four of PACS's research-to-practice efforts: 1) The Justice Scholars—a dual high school/college enrollment program in which high school students earn college credits from Pitt along with supplemental college readiness training; 2) Just Discipline—a school climate and discipline intervention that uses relational and restorative practices to reduce disciplinary problems and increase achievement; 3) the Spaces and People in Neighborhoods (SPIN) project's Youth Research Advisory Board, through which young people are trained as leaders and researchers to assist in the design and pilot of research on their own community; and 4) Research for Equity and Power—a community-based participatory research and training project designed to mobilize and strengthen residents' civic engagement on the topic of equitable development (versus gentrification).

Individually, the projects presented in this symposium have exposed students and community members to numerous educational and career opportunities; significantly improved school climate, achievement, and college access; and mobilized residents to be proactively involved in community planning and development. Collectively, these research-to-practice initiatives represent multiple strands of PACS's overall approach to leveraging university-community partnerships in ways that re-imagine and transform inequitable systems at the school and community levels.

* noted as presenting author
Justice Scholars: Educational Equity through a Social Justice Focused, College-Preparatory University-School Partnership
Esohe Osai, PhD, University of Pittsburgh; Grace Oxley, BA, University of Pittsburgh; Carrie Finkelstein, BA, University of Pittsburgh
The Just Discipline Project: Year 1 Implementation Results
Rachelle Haynik, MPA, University of Pittsburgh; Shawn Thomas, MSW, University of Pittsburgh; Shante Stuart McQueen, Ph.D, University of Pittsburgh; James Huguley, Ed.D, University of Pittsburgh
The SPIN Project's Youth Research Advisory Board: Engaging Youth Perspectives to Ensure Research Relevance and Build Capacity
Jaime Booth, PhD, University of Pittsburgh; Dashawna J. Fussell-Ware, MSW, University of Pittsburgh; Daniel Sintim, BA, University of Pittsburgh; Donnell H. Pearl, University of Pittsburgh; Cortney VanHook, MS, MPH, University of Pittsburgh
Research for Equity and Power (REP): Developing a Community Engaged Research Partnership to Address Community Identified Issues
Mary Ohmer, PhD, University of Pittsburgh; Shannah Tharp-Gilliam, PhD, Homewood Children's Village
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