Grants Office Update: January 2020

Principal Investigator: Ming-Te Wang
Department: Psychology in Education
Project Title: The Just Discipline Regional Impact Model
Agency Name: Heinz Endowments
Award Dates: 12/1/19 – 11/30/20 
Amount: $29,933

The Just Discipline Project is a $250,000 collaboration between the Pitt School of Social Work’s Center on Race and Social Problems (CRSP), the Pitt School of Education’s Motivation Center, and the Woodland Hills School District. The project aims to implement a contextually tailored school discipline and school climate program that incorporates the most promising and equity-oriented approaches from around the country.  To remedy the racial disparities in school discipline problems, our team and school district leaders have collaborated to define the local needs and to tailor the best practices nationally into a school-based intervention program that has the following core components:

1. Specialized School Culture Staffing from Pitt. The work of our restorative practice coordinator at WHIS includes training teachers on building relationships, understanding students within their social and community contexts, and using restorative practices in the classroom.

2. School-wide positive, relational culture efforts. We implement several mechanisms for building positive relationships and overall school culture, including community building circles and community-wide co-curricular events that build student-teacher-family bonds.

3. Responsive intervention system. WHIS staff and the restorative practice coordinator work together to insure that concerning student discipline or conflicts are met with an empathetic and growth-oriented response, in ways that resolve conflicts for the longer term. 

4. Student-leadership training. Through our program a group of 40 students at the intermediate school serve as Leaders in Training (LIT Leaders), and learn about leadership, character building, and conflict resolution.


Principal Investigator: Keith Trahan
Department: Administration and Policy Studies 
Project Title: Storytime STEM-packs: Entry Point for Early Computer Science and STEM Learning in PreK-2 Classrooms and Public Libraries
Agency Name: Allegheny Intermediate Unit
Award Dates: 5/1/19 – 8/31/20 
Amount: $40,753

CEAC to serve as external evaluator for theAllegheny Intermediate Unit Math & Science Collaborative PAsmart Grant to Advance Early STEM+C Education in Southwestern PA.

In its ongoing collaboration with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit Math & Science Collaborative (AIU-MSC), the Collaborative for Evaluation and Assessment Capacity (CEAC) will serve as external evaluator for the recently awarded $400,000 PAsmart grant. The AIU-MSC has been awarded a PAsmart Advancing Computer Science and STEM Grant for $399,379.00 to support Storytime STEM-packs™: Entry Point for Early Computer Science and STEM Learning in PreK-2 Classrooms and Public Libraries. Storytime STEM-packs™ are an educational innovation developed in 2014 by the AIU-MSC in collaboration with the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County and subsequently funded through NSF I-CORPS and numerous local foundation grants. CEAC has served as collaborator and external evaluator for the project since its inception.

The project will engage young learners in STEM and computer science through themed Storytime STEM-packs™ and related robot challenges. These materials enable educators with minimal prior knowledge of STEM to connect age-appropriate standards-based science, engineering, math, and computer science concepts to children’s literature. Each Storytime STEM-pack includes: (1) a popular children’s book; (2) all the physical and print materials to facilitate an engaging, hands-on STEM+C activity for 24 children; and (3) a facilitator guide that makes connecting the story to the STEM+C activity easy. AIU MSC will develop and distribute 7 Storytime STEM-packs along with 7 companion computer science activities (STEM+C), to predominantly high needs schools and libraries across Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties. Participating classroom educators and children’s librarians will be involved in a total of 18 hours of professional learning and networking. Those served directly by this project will include 44 preK-2 school districts from both Allegheny and Westmoreland Intermediate Units, 13 public libraries, 60 AIU Head Start Classrooms, and 11 nonpublic schools within the Diocese of Pittsburgh; serving approximately 200 educators and librarians, and 3000 children in 2019-20.


Principal Investigator: Esohe Osai
Department: Psychology in Education
Project Title: Justice Scholars Program Operation Grant
Agency Name: Pittsburgh Foundation 
Award Dates: 11/16/19 – 11/15/21 
Amount: $174,830

Justice Scholars is a social justice informed effort that provides a credit-bearing, college preparatory experience to students in Westinghouse Academy in the Homewood community of Pittsburgh. The program was birthed in 2016 in response to low college matriculation and completion rates for the very capable students who graduate from the high school. Justice Scholars has partnered with the College in High School program at the Pitt to offer University of Pittsburgh courses to students. In the past three years, almost 200 University of Pittsburgh credits have been earned by students at Westinghouse. Our program alumni are currently in school at a number of universities, include Penn State University, LaSalle University, Duquesne University and Morehouse College, among others.  In addition to the College in High School courses, we partner with additional units at Pitt to provide a suite of college preparatory support. These supports include college visits, college preparation workshops, and a research symposium that features students’ work from community-engaged research projects. Finally, a subset of students in Justice Scholars participate in a paid, weekly afterschool learning opportunity. This new funding will allow us to hire a full-time program coordinator and support program expansion to another local high school.


Principal Investigator:  Jennifer Iriti
Department:  Learning Research and Development Center
Project Title: The Pittsburgh Promise 2019-2020 Annual Metrics
Agency Name: The Pittsburgh Promise
Award Dates: 9/15/19 – 9/14/20 
Amount: $34,657

The Pittsburgh Promise offers a significant financial incentive for students and their families to do their part to get ready for post-secondary education while in high school. However, in order for The Promise to realize the full range of its goals for catalyzing reform in the education systems, the PK-12 and Higher Education providers must have access to data that shows the effects of their efforts to prepare and support students in the pursuit of a post-secondary degree. The work outlined in this proposal is intended to continue and deepen the Pittsburgh Promise’s data-reporting regarding college-going patterns of PPS graduates, detailed postsecondary data and patterns for each PPS high school, and the provision of ongoing, responsive research and data support.