Chase-Lansdale Partners on Research to Support Young Parents' Education

Chase-Lansdale Partners on Research to Support Young Parents' Education

Getting a college education isn't easy if you're a young parent with limited resources. Partnering with the Ounce of Prevention Fund, School of Education and Social Policy professor Lindsay Chase-Lansdale and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn of Columbia University will undertake a project to investigate ways to boost postsecondary education among young, low-income parents.

The nonprofit Ounce of Prevention Fund is a Chicago-based national organization that is dedicated to helping children in low-income families overcome the challenges of poverty through enriched early childhood education programs called Educare. Chase-Lansdale, Brooks-Gunn and Ounce of Prevention received an award from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support the "Educare Post-Secondary Education Project." The researchers will identify and analyze the supports and barriers to postsecondary educational attainment among young, low-income parents whose children are in Educare centers in Chicago, Denver and Miami.

In addition, the project will design a pilot program that uses high-quality early childhood education centers as a context for promoting and supporting parents' continuing education. The goal will be to design an innovative program that could build upon mothers' commitment to their children's successful educational advances so that mothers themselves are also able to advance their own education.

The Educare project is part of the Gates Foundation's new initiative to double the number of low-income students in the United States who earn post-secondary degrees by age 26. The foundation awarded grants totaling $69 million to organizations working to improve college enrollment and completion rates in America.

An expert on the interface between research and social policy for children and families, Chase-Lansdale has been involved in several large-scale, longitudinal studies on risk and resilience among children and families facing economic hardship. According to Chase-Lansdale, "Study after study has shown that educational attainment is one of the most effective pathways to bettering life outcomes for poor families and their children. So I am delighted to be part of this groundbreaking, interdisciplinary initiative that has the potential not only to improve life chances for low-income families now but also to help break the cycle of poverty for future generations."

Chase-Lansdale is a professor of Human Development and Social Policy in the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University. She is also a faculty fellow at the Institute for Policy Research (IPR) at Northwestern University and is the founding director of Cells to Society (C2S): The Center for Social Disparities and Health at IPR. A former Congressional Science Fellow, she is the first developmental psychologist to be tenured in a public policy school in the United States. She serves as deputy director of Northwestern University's Multidisciplinary Program in Education Sciences (MPES).

Brooks-Gunn is the Virginia and Leonard Marx Professor of Child Development and Education at Teachers College, and the College for Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University. She co-directs the National Center for Children and Families at Columbia University's Teachers College and the Columbia University Institute for Child and Family Policy. In addition, she has directed the Adolescent Study Program at Columbia University's Teachers College and the College of Physicians and Surgeons. She has been a visiting scholar at the Center for Health and Well-Being at the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University and the Russell Sage Foundation. Formerly, she was a senior research scientist at Educational Testing Service.

The Gates Foundation, which sees education as the primary way to reduce inequities, seeks to ensure that all people — especially those with the fewest resources — have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. "Today, Americans without a college education live close to the poverty line for a family of four. That is why we are making a long-term commitment to dramatically increase college completion — a goal that is both ambitious and necessary," said Allan Golston, president of the foundation's U.S. Program.
By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 4/9/10