Grants Office Update: December 2019

Principal Investigator: Rachel Robertson
Department: Instruction and Learning
Project Title: The LEND Center at the University of Pittsburgh
Agency Name: US Department of Health & Human Services
Award Dates: 7/1/19 – 6/30/20 
Amount: $15,182

The LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities) Center at the University of Pittsburgh is a leadership education program funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in the department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). 

At the University of Pittsburgh, the LEND Center is a program of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.  It is an interdisciplinary program that prepares graduate and post-graduate students, practicing professionals, and family members of children with disabilities to assume leadership roles in their respective fields.  While striving to understand factors that help all individuals attain optimal health and developmental trajectories over a lifetime, the LEND Center forges partnerships of university faculty and students, community service providers, health professionals and educators, leaders in government, business, and philanthropy, as well as individuals with disabilities.

Principal Investigator: Colleen Young
Department: Office of Child Development 
Project Title: Shared Power and Inclusive Family Voice
Agency Name: Frank and Theresa Caplan Fund for Early Childhood Development
Award Dates: 11/1/19 – 10/31/20 
Amount: $19,942

There is a wealth of evidence that sharing power with families is an essential practice to lifting the well-being of children. Yet too often, the voices of families are not prioritized. This project seeks to answer the following questions:

How do we best support families to identify and develop solutions in their own communities with full access to the power needed make choices and changes? 
How does white supremacy culture influence the present resistance toward full family engagement and inclusion in agenda-setting and decision-making?

Principal Investigator: T. Elon Dancy
Department: Dean’s Office
Project Title: Ending Racial Opportunity Gaps in Mathematics: New Paths Forward
Agency Name: Heinz Endowments 
Award Dates: 7/15/19 – 5/31/21 
Amount: $144,656

The Center for Urban Education’s Ready to Learn (RTL) program is a research-practice partnership that supports personalized learning through tutoring and mentoring and connects University of Pittsburgh undergraduate students with students in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. RTL's goal is to support grade school students’ academic improvement in mathematics, critical thinking, and personal development. More broadly, the program seeks to mitigate access barriers shaped by persistent structural disparities.

Principal Investigator: Aisha White
Department: Office of Child Development
Project Title: Black Language- Black Families; Literacy and Racial Pride
Agency Name: Frank and Theresa Caplan Fund for Early Childhood Development
Award Dates: 11/1/19 – 10/31/20 
Amount: $24,844

The project consists of 2-hour sessions designed to help Black parents/families learn about, understand, and embrace AAVE(African American Vernacular English). Parents will: 1) Gain knowledge about AAVE through a strengths based lens; 2) Determine their own views toward the language; 3) Have space to discuss with other parents their attitudes around their children’s use of the language; 4) Become aware of classroom strategies that embrace AAVE and produce positive educational outcomes; and 5) Build a repertoire of advocacy strategies to support their children in the school setting.

Principal Investigator: Stephen Bagnato
Department: Psychology in Education
Project Title: UCLID-LEND Center Disabilities Institute
Agency Name: US Department of Health & Human Services, Maternal and Child Health Bureau
Award Dates: 7/1/19 – 6/30/20 
Amount: $22,382

Since 1995, The UCLID-LEND Center Disabilities Institute at the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh ( has been one of 52 university centers of excellence in neurodevelopmental disabilities in 44 states throughout the US.  UCLID-LEND is funded by the USDHHS and the US Maternal and Child Health Bureau.  

The primary focus of the LEND network is the education, training, and mentoring offuture interdisciplinary leadersto support and advocate for individuals (infants/toddlers to adults) and their families with neurodevelopmental disabilities, chronic medical conditions, challenging behaviors, and at-risk factors for future disabilities.  LEND funding supports both faculty and student trainees in over 15 interdisciplinary specialties.  Dr. Bagnato is the PIE/ADP core psychology interdisciplinary faculty member on the UCLID-LEND team who mentors ADP students in LEND.  

Each year, on average, 2 Applied Developmental Psychology (ADP) students compete successfully to be selected for internship funding to become LEND trainees. All LEND trainees will become associated with the national professional organization which represents LEND and disabilities training in the US: Association for University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) ( At graduation from the LEND experience, LEND Trainees receive a special certificate of completion certifying their neurodevelopmental disability education through federal funding.

Principal Investigator: Stephen Bagnato
Department: Psychology in Education
Project Title: SPECS for Include Me research grant
Agency Name: Arc of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Department of Education-Bureau of Special Education
Award Dates: 7/1/19 – 6/30/20 
Amount: $57,000

Stephen J. Bagnato, Ed.D., NCSP, Professor of Psychology & Pediatrics in the Department of Psychology-in-Education, Applied Developmental Psychology Program, is recipient of a contract renewal with the Arc of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Department of Education-Bureau of Special Education.  The contract, SPECS for Include Me, is the 10thyear of a longitudinal program evaluation research effort for an innovative teacher inclusion mentoring initiative entitled “Include Me (IM)”involving a collaboration among Dr. Bagnato’s SPECS team at ADP; The UCLID-LEND Disabilities Institute at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and the Arc of PA and PDE.  IM is a Pennsylvania-wide initiative of the Arc of PA to partner with nearly 200 school districts to collaborate on the transition of students (K-12thgrade) with severe developmental disabilities from segregated to inclusive classroom settings in their local schools. Throughout 10 years, IM has engaged in a mentoring process with over 1200 students and parents; 3000 teachers and administrators, and 200 school districts in this highly successful and positive program.  SPECS research has demonstrated the quality, impact, and outcomes of individualized mentoring of varying content and intensities with parents and professionals and the positive impact on student behavior and achievement, improved teacher instructional and management practices; parent advocacy; and attitudes about inclusion and improvements in overall school and classroom climate. This next phase in IM involves Arc and PDE collaborations with a smaller set of specific school districts and to focus on all students with individualized needs with the district rather than with only single dyads of students and parents and teachers.

Principal Investigator: Jennifer Briggs
Department: Office of Child Development
Project Title: Exploring the Use of Children’s Literature to Support Race-Based Conversations in Early Childhood
Agency Name: Frank and Theresa Caplan Fund for Early Childhood Development
Award Dates: 11/1/19 – 10/31/20 
Amount: $25,000

The purpose of this project is twofold. First, we aim to develop a deeper understanding of both parent and teacher perceptions and openness to using children’s literature as a mechanism to support critical conversations about race with young children. Second, we aim to use these findings to inform the development of a system to examine and classify children’s books as a way to inform and support parents and educators when choosing, reading, and discussing books about race. Toward these dual purposes, we will address a range of research questions, including:

If and how do educators utilize children’s literature to have critical discussions about topics such as race with young children? What texts do educators select and why? How confident are educators in their ability to use books as a tool for talking about race?
If and how do parents utilize children’s literature to have critical discussions about race with young children? How do parents feel about educators using children’s literature to discuss race? Do parents and educators select the same books to talk about race? If yes, do they provide the same rationale? If no, what is the difference and why?
Based on responses from parents and teachers, and a review of the literature, is there a systematic way to code and classify children’s literature to support parents and educators in selecting, reading, and discussing books about race in early childhood?