Grants Office Update: September 2020

Principal Investigator: Amanda Godley
Department: Learning Research and Development Center
Project Title: Discussion Tracker: Development of Human Language Technologies to Improve the Teaching of Collaborative Argumentation in High School
Agency Name: National Science Foundation
Award Dates: 10/1/20 – 9/30/22 
Amount: $16,000

The proposed REU supplement will support two undergraduate students during the summer of 2020 and continuing through the 2020-2021 academic year. The students will gain research experience on our ongoing NSF project, Discussion Tracker: Development of Human Language Technologies to Improve the Teaching of Collaborative Argumentation in High School, which aims to leverage recent advances in human language technologies (HLT), data visualization/analytics, and teacher learning to advance technology that provides automated feedback on classroom talk with the goal of improving teaching effectiveness and student achievement.


Principal Investigator: Colleen Young
Department: Office of Child Development
Project Title: Real Help, Real Time for Financially Struggling Families

Agency Name:  Providence Connections/United Way
Award Dates: 8/15/20 – 8/14/21 
Amount: $70,000

Real Help Real Time (RHRT) is an emergency relief fund administered through Allegheny County Family Centers to prevent or resolve immediate financial crises swiftly and appropriately. As their basic needs are met, families are also connected to longer term supports, so that financial assistance is coupled with additional supportive services, access to ongoing benefits and assistance, and opportunities for family development.


Principal Investigator: Tracy Larson
Department: Office of Child Development
Project Title: HealthyCHILD/PPS Head Start: Pittsburgh Public Schools
Agency Name: Pittsburgh Public Schools 
Award Dates: 8/27/20 – 8/31/21 
Amount: $77,000

The University of Pittsburgh, Office of Child Development, Early Childhood Partnerships-HealthyCHILD, to conduct virtual professional development for Early Childhood staff as they navigate the day-to-day challenges that arise due to COVID-19. HealthyChild will provide hands-on resources to staff and families and they will provide 1:1 consultations to families who indicate a need for additional support services around their child's mental health.


Principal Investigator: Tracy Larson
Department: Office of Child Development
Project Title: HealthyCHILD: Allegheny Intermediate Unit Head Start and Pre-K Counts
Agency Name: Allegheny Intermediate Unit 
Award Dates: 8/25/20 – 8/24/21 
Amount: $150,768

The HealthyCHILD team will apply the “lessons learned” from the Mellon-funded and evidence-based HealthyInfants model of tiered supports and the 5 innovations focusing on caregiver-child interactions (both child care provider and parent); this “morphing” of the HealthyInfants model elements into the PPS EHS Program will enhance the quality of care provided via a prevention-to-intervention model of graduated supports which promotes the use of developmentally-appropriate practices centering on positive caregiver-infant/toddler attachment relationships.


Principal Investigator: Tracy Larson
Department: Office of Child Development
Project Title: HealthyCHILD: Allegheny Intermediate Unit Head Start Professional Development
Agency Name: Allegheny Intermediate Unit 
Award Dates: 8/25/20 – 8/24/21  
Amount: $50,000

Healthy child will provide professional development (4-part series) on trauma and trauma toolkits for educators. The kits will include information on common traumas, such as domestic violence, grief and loss, anxiety, drug and alcohol, community violence, racial discrimination, etc… and scripts to guide conversations with families, relationship building ideas and tools and picture books with lessons for use in classrooms to help children process and cope with stressful events.


Principal Investigator: Jerry Longo

Department:  Teaching, Learning and Leading
Project Title:  The School Board Leadership College
Agency Name:  Grable Foundation 
Award Dates: 1/4/21 – 12/31/22 
Amount: $80,000

The Forum for Western Pennsylvania School Superintendents is the recipient of a Grable Foundation Tomorrow Grant.  

The success or failure of a school district is often due to the quality and experience of school board leadership.  The School Board Leadership College will be in affiliation with The Forum for Western Pennsylvania School Superintendents and the Institute for Politics at the University of Pittsburgh.  School directors participating in the activities of The College will be chosen from school districts in which the superintendent is a Forum member.   

The curriculum for The College will be designed by a select committee of superintendents in collaboration with The Institute for Politics.  Curriculum will be focused on the kind of school board leadership required as the future of learning unfolds in a time of unprecedented adaptive change, i.e. having the policy and practices that enable leaders to address the challenges presented by a chaotic and evolving environment.


Principal Investigator: Valerie Kinloch/Michelle Sobolak

Department: Dean’s Office
Project Title: “Ignite Learning” Practicing and Pre-Service Teacher Mentoring Project

Agency Name: Grable Foundation 
Award Dates: 8/4/20 – 4/30/21 
Amount: $87,500

Training new teachers is an important responsibility and one that needs to constantly undergo redesign and improvement. Ongoing racist events in the United States illustrate the very real need for schools of education, school districts, education leaders, teachers, and communities to do more to ensure that children and young adults, especially Students of Color, have access a quality education that is grounded in equity, justice, and care. One way that Pitt's Teacher Education program can support local teachers-mentors as well as future teachers is by providing justice-designed professional development as well as resources and ongoing mentoring opportunities that focus on pressing education concerns.  As a School of Education, we have a responsibility to consider the needs of schools and teachers both in how we train new teachers and in the partnerships we form with others.  This important work can have a major impact on PK-12 students in the region and, going forward, it has the potential to positively influence thousands of students regionally and nationally, particularly as they learn with and are mentored by the teachers with whom we are partnering.


Principal Investigator: Gina Garcia

Department: Educational Foundations, Organizations and Policy
Project Title: Dominican University: Making Sense of a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) Organizational Identity

Agency Name: Spencer Foundation 
Award Dates: 9/1/20 – 6/30/22 
Amount: $49,195

Latinx students are the largest minoritized racial-ethnic group enrolling in postsecondary institutions, yet inequities in degree attainment exist between Latinx and white students. Approximately 66% of Latinxs enroll in Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), which are colleges and universities that have at least 25% Latinx students. But some argue that HSIs are not serving students since inequities in graduation rates and experiences continue to exist. The purpose of this project is to explore what it means for a university to move from Latinx-enrolling to Latinx-serving, guided by the research question: In what ways do students, faculty, staff, alumni, and board members construct and enact an HSI organizational identity? Using a case study approach, multiple forms of data will be gathered via surveys and interviews, with the organization serving as the unit of analysis. The project is a research partnership with one federally designated HSI that has received funding to carry out this mission, yet it continues to struggle with what it means to become Latinx-serving. The PI will collect data over an 18-month period with the goal of enhancing the field’s overall understanding of servingness, while simultaneously supporting one institution’s efforts to embrace its HSI identity.


Principal Investigator: Elon Dancy

Department:  Dean’s Office
Project Title: (Un)Doing the Consequences of Brown v. Board of Education: Restoring Black Educators through a Tutor Network of Retired Teachers

Agency Name: Grable Foundation 
Award Dates: 8/1/20 – 7/31/21 
Amount: $87,500

The COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately ravaging Black and Brown communities with devastating effects in education. The Center for Urban Education has received a grant from the Grable Foundation to support the hire of five Black retired teachers who will shape out-of-school learning experiences for children living in Pittsburgh urbanized areas. These teachers will emphasize culturally relevant curricula as fundamental to building students’ critical thinking and inquiry skills, strong foundational academics, extensive knowledge of their own history, and a commitment to social justice. Teachers will receive personalized support around the technology and pedagogy required for the virtual learning environment. A central purpose of this grant is to apply the research on the significance of Black teachers to youth lives and Black children, more specifically, and to redress the loss of Black teachers following Brown v. Board of Education (1954).