Update from the Grants Office: Recent Grants Awarded Total $19.6 Million

The grants office will provide a monthly update of new grants, typically towards the middle of each month. The following grants have been recently awarded and total more than $19.6 million of funded research to start the academic year.

Congratulations to the following faculty members on their recent grants.

Principal Investigator: Tony Petrosky, Jennifer Russell, Chris Schunn, and Dana Thompson-Dorsey
Department: Institute for Learning with the Center for Urban Education
Project Title: University of Pittsburgh/Institute for Learning(IFL) Network for School Improvement (9th Grade On Track)
Agency Name: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Award Dates: 8/23/18-6/30-23
Amount: $7,485,903 million

The Institute for Learning (IFL) in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh School for Education Center for Urban Education (CUE) and Dallas Independent School District will serve as a network improvement hub in literacy for 12 Dallas ISD secondary schools serving predominantly African American, Latino, and low-income students with a five-year, $7.4 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In collaboration with Dallas ISD leadership, IFL and CUE will support teams of teachers and leadership from six high schools and six of their feeder middle schools to use continuous improvement methods to increase the number of African American, Latino, English language learners, and low-income students who are on-track for high school graduation at the end of 9th grade. The work will initially focus on English Language Arts and writing.Research has shown that writing is a foundational skill that is critical to success in other courses and in college. A clear set of research-based writing strategies are now available for supporting struggling students to improve their writing.

Principal Investigators: Elon Dancy and Lori Delale-O'Connor 
Department: Center for Urban Education
Project Title: Heinz Fellows
Agency Name: Heinz Endowments
Award Dates: 7/1/2018-6/30/2019
Amount: $850,000

The Heinz Endowments have approved a grant for $850,000 to the University of Pittsburgh Center for Education in the School of Education. The grant will be used to fund the Heinz Fellows Program, which involves 15 college graduates who work as tutors and mentors in the 3 Hill District Pittsburgh Public Schools (Pittsburgh Weil Elementary, Pittsburgh Miller African Centered Academy, and University Preparatory at Margaret Milliones 6-12).

The Project goals are to: 1) Develop a Fellows’ cohort that embraces and understands working in urban schools with an asset based and equity minded approach around 5 key competencies- understanding the urban context, teaching and tutoring, mentoring and social support, participatory action research, and arts and technology; 2) Increase Fellows’ abilities and skills to work in the urban context through the use of reflection, interview, observation, and action practices; 3) Facilitate positive academic and socio-emotional development in K-12 student mentees; and 4) Create a framework for Fellows to conduct ongoing action research that will assist in improving school climate and culture.

Success will be measured by the fulfillment of the above goals via surveys, self reporting, action research, and CUE’s formative and summative evaluations.

Principal Investigator: Carl Fertman 
Department: Health and Physical Activity

Project Title: Student Mental Health Promotion Project
Agency Name:  Fox Chapel Area School District
Award Dates: 7/1/2018-6/30/2021
Amount: $583,926

The MAPS program has also negotiated a 3 year contract for $583,926 with the Fox Chapel Area School District. This funding supports the provision of a Social Services liaison in a local school district grades Kindergarten through twelfth. Our programming supports the school and family members of students experiencing mental health challenges while also offering one-on-one and group interventions.

Project Title: Maximizing Adolescent Potentials Program (MAPS)
Agency Name:  Allegheny County
Award Dates: 7/1/2018-6/30/2019
Amount: $443,640

Maximizing Adolescent Potentials secured a contract with the Allegheny County Office of Behavioral Health in the amount of $443,640. As a prevention provider, the program will continue its school and community programming with children, adolescents and their families implementing evidence-based curriculum. In addition, this funding supports Behavioral Health Liaisons in several district to provide technical assistance and training to staff while also supporting students experiencing a barrier to learning.

Principal Investigator: Amanda Godley and Diane Litman
Department: Instruction and Learning
Project Title: EAGER: Discussion Tracker: Development of Human Language Technologies to Improve the Teaching of Collaborative Argumentation in High School Classrooms
Agency Name:  National Science Foundation
Award Dates: 9/1/2018-08/31/2019
Amount: $149,825

Collaborative argumentation - the building of evidence-based, reasoned knowledge and solutions through dialogue - is essential to individual learning as well as group problem-solving in STEM and other disciplines and a defining characteristic of 21st century workplaces. Teaching collaborative argumentation is an advanced skill that many high school teachers struggle to develop. This Early Grant for Exploratory Research explores the feasibility of improving high school teachers' understanding of collaborative argumentation and instruction through a computer-based system called Discussion Tracker. The prototype system draws upon recent advances in human language technologies (HLT) to provide teachers with automatically generated data about the characteristics and quality of their students' discussions. The system also provides individualized guidance for teachers on how to improve the facilitation of such discussions and has the potential to prepare a new generation of teachers and students for the productive collaborative argumentation they will need for future educational and workplace settings.

Principal Investigator: Debra Moore
Department: Instruction and Learning
Project Title: Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment - Reading, Math, and Science (PASA)
Agency Name:  Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Award Dates: 7/1/2018 - 6/30/2019
Amount: $3,975,253

The Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment is a $3.9 million project awarded to the Department of Instruction and Learning, School of Education and funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The project is led by Director, Debra W. Moore, and Senior Advisors, Steven R. Lyon and Clement Stone.

The PASA project develops annual assessments in reading, writing, math, and science for the over 20,000 Pennsylvania school students who have the most significant cognitive disabilities and cannot participate in the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA). The assessments are specifically designed to increase access to the general education curriculum for this population of students further increasing equity in educational experiences for all students in Pennsylvania.

In addition to developing the assessments; the project also delivers and scores the assessments, trains test administrators, reports results from the assessments to stakeholders including parents, and conducts validity studies to ensure technical adequacy while maintaining compliance with federal laws and Pennsylvania School Code. The assessments are periodically subject to peer review by the U.S. Department of Education and, most recently, were deemed to ‘substantially’ meet requirements, a distinction rare among alternate assessments nationally.

Office of Child Development Grants

Principal Investigator: Aisha White
Agency Name: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Award Dates: 7/1/18 - 6/30/19
Amount:  $2,000

Funds will support a portion of speaker costs for a 3-day event which includes a presentation by scholar Dr. Erin Winkler Thursday, September 27th, an informal luncheon with Dr. Winkler September 28th, and a second presentation by her as part of the Trying Together UnConference September 29th. The UnConference title is:  “Being Intentional About Race and Young Children”.

Partnerships for Family Support
Principal Investigator: Colleen Young
Agency Name: Allegheny County Department of Human Services
Award Dates: 7/1/18 - 6/30/1
Amount: $420,016

The program seeks to enhance quality in a primary prevention system for families with young children in Allegheny County. The approach of this system is the implementation of the family support principles, which highlight community governed, designed, and improved services and activities. Cornerstones of the prevention system are the promotion of evidence-based home visiting and the use of the Protective Factors framework to strengthen families and improve the outcomes for young children.

Early Childhood Mental Health Project
Principal Investigator: Colleen Young
Agency Name: YWCA
Award Dates: 7/1/2018 - 6/30/19
Amount: $244,898

The project will provide onsite coaching and support to early care and education teacher/caregivers regarding children’s social and emotional development and or behaviors.  This project is associated with the Commonwealth’s Keystone STARS initiative. Parents are involved in the collaborative process but no onsite coaching is provided in the home.  Parental support may involve recommendations for seeking behavioral health or other developmental assessments for children.

STARS Technical Assistance Project
Principal Investigator: Colleen Young
Agency Name: YWCA
Award Dates: 7/1/18 - 6/30/19
Amount: $364,460 + $2,000 PD

The project provides consultation and technical assistance to support early learning practitioners participating in the Commonwealth’s the Keystone Stars quality improvement initiative. This project offers a follow-up to group training and provides individualized and/or on-site assistance to help providers apply what they have learned.

Evaluation of Igniting and Sustaining the Dream
Principal Investigator: Caitlin Spear
Agency Name: McAuley Ministries
Award Dates: 8/1/18 - 12/31/22
Amount: $75,411

Evaluation of the Afterschool Initiative currently being funded by McAuley Ministries.

Self-regulating Lifestyle Behaviors
Principal Investigator: Shannon Wanless
Agency Name: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Award Dates: 7/1/18 - 6/30/19
Amount: $22,187

This grant is a sub-award through Nursing (a NICHD grant) to study lifestyle behaviors to decrease obesity with Parent-Preschool Child Dyads using event history calendars.

HealthyCHILD/Various Sites 
Principal Investigator: Tracy Larson
Agency Name: Pittsburgh Public Schools / Council of Three Rivers American Indian Council
Award Dates: 8/1/18 - 6/30/19
Amount: $315,819 (multiple sources)

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 HS 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.  

Education Law Center Phase II
Principal Investigator: Amanda Cross
Agency Name: Education Law Center
Award Dates: 6/1/18 - 9/30/19
Amount: $20,000

Phase Il will provide the groundwork for training all of ELC's staff to implement a self- evaluation framework that can be created to assess all of ELC's program areas and its work across Pennsylvania. The work of Phase Il will be coordinated within ELC, across program areas and in collaboration with the on-going work ELC is doing with the social impact collaborative in Philadelphia.

Overarching Goals: To provide ELC staff with training, technical assistance, and support to use a self-evaluation framework to measure the impacts of ELC 's education justice work, with a focus on school climate work in Western Pennsylvania.

Early Head Start
Principal Investigator: John Kim
Director: Chris Dunkerly
Agency Name: Department of Health and Human Services
Award Dates: 9/30/18 - 9/29/30
Amount: $4,245,721

Family Foundations Early Head Start (EHS) provides early, continuous, intensive, and comprehensive child development and family support services to low-income families with children from birth to age three.

Family Foundations is a program of the University of Pittsburgh Early Head Start Grant, operating in high-risk neighborhoods in six local communities: Clairton site and East End site, hosted by The Consortium for Public Education; Sto-Rox site hosted by Focus on Renewal; Hill District site and Northside site hosted by Community Human Services Corp; and the Tri-Boro site hosted by Turtle Creek Valley MH/MR, Inc.

Principal Investigator: Cailtin Spear
Agency Name: University of Oregon / U.S. Department of Education
Award Dates:7/1/18 - 6/30/21
Amount: $537,671

The University of Pittsburgh, Office of Child Development (OCD) is partnering with the University of Oregon’s Center on Teaching and Learning on a four-year grant proposal to the Institute for Education Sciences (IES). Through this IES Goal 3 application -- Evaluation of the KinderTEK iPad Math Program– we propose an efficacy study of KinderTEK (KTEK), an innovative technology-delivered kindergarten math program. The adaptive program blends evidence-based instructional design principles with the affordances of iPads to differentiate instruction for each student. Students engage with vividly illustrated animals in their native environments and unlock new math content and rewards as they travel around the world. Past studies of KTEK indicate evidence of promise for positively impacting the mathematics achievement of at-risk students. The proposed randomized control trial, which involves four cohorts of students, will take place in multiple regions across two states.