Esohe Osai
Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor
Health and Human Development

Dr. Esohe R. Osai is an Assistant Professor in Applied Developmental Psychology in the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Osai operates as a community engaged scholar with an interest in how communities and schools can support social justice, development, and well-being for children, youth, and families. She founded a school-university partnership called The Justice Scholars Institute (JSI), which supports the post-secondary transition for youth from marginalized communities. Through JSI, youth are provided opportunities to earn college credit and explore interests related to social justice and advocacy. JSI also intentionally collaborates with schools to promote equitable opportunities in teaching and learning. Beyond her work in the academy, Dr. Osai engages in community through various community-based organizations, including one that she founded to support Black mothers and children in the Homewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Osai earned her Ph.D. in Education and Psychology at the University of Michigan. Her doctoral thesis focused on Black youth and the development of purpose in urban environments. Previously, Dr. Osai was a high school teacher in her hometown of Detroit. She also holds a B.A. in Education from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Dr. Osai's purpose is centered on enhancing livelihood and well-being for children, youth, and families in urban communities. She privileges a social justice-centered, positive strengths approach in her community engaged praxis.

View the Justice Scholars Institute program report (PDF).

Instructional Interests

  • Child Development
  • Adolescent Development
  • Children, Youth, and Communities

Scholarly Interests

  • Purpose in Adolescence
  • College and Career Pathways
  • School-University Partnerships
  • Educational Equity
  • Community Engagement

Selected Grants

  • Osai, E. & Campbell, S.L. (2021-2023) Pitt Momentum Scaling Award. Grantor: University of Pittsburgh Office of the Provost $226, 038 (Funded)

  • Osai, E. (2020-2022) Justice Scholars Operations. Grantor: The Pittsburgh Foundation $175,000 (Funded)

  • Osai, E. (PI), Caldwell, K., Donaldson, K., Giazzoni, M., Haynik, R. Huguley, Skukan, L., Wallace, J. (2019-2021). Justice Scholars Expansion. Grantor: University of Pittsburgh Chancellor’s Office, $50,000 (Funded)

Featured Publications

  • Osai, E., Oxley, G., Haynik, R. & McMahon, M. (2020) The Justice Scholars Institute: An Equity-driven College Preparation Strategy. University of Pittsburgh School of Education.

  • Osai, E., Huguley, J.P., Giazzoni, M., & Wallace, J.M. (in press). Developing Justice Scholars: A social justice intervention to support educational equity for urban-residing students. Children & Schools.

  • Akiva, T., Hecht, M., & Osai, E. (2019). Creative Learning in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh. Available at

  • Tharp-Gilliam, S., Osai, E., & Koury, A. (2017). Pittsburgh Black Elected Officials Coalition Pittsburgh Peace and Justice Initiative, Phase 1 Report. Pittsburgh, PA: Homewood Children’s Village. Available at

Awards and Honors

  • Dean’s Distinguished Community Engagement/RPP Award, University of Pittsburgh School of Education, 2021

  • Partnership of Distinction, University of Pittsburgh Office of Community and Government Relations, 2021

  • King/Chavez/Parks Future Faculty Fellowship, Rackham Graduate School, 2013

Engagement, Partnerships, and Professional Service

Dr. Esohe Osai is a community-engaged scholar, who lives, works, and serves in the Homewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh. She is co-founder of a non-for-profit called The Good Neighbor Collective, which operates as a kinship network to support children and families in communities. She also serves on numerous boards and steering committees of grassroots and community-based organizations that pursue the health and well-being of people living in urban neighborhoods.

Esohe Osai


University of Pittsburgh
5122 Wesley W. Posvar Hall
230 South Bouquet Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

View CV