Research & Action Report, Fall/Winter 2011

Wellesley Centers for Women research and action initiatives are funded primarily by federal, state, and corporate grants and contracts. Several new and continuing projects received funding over the past six months.


Promoting Public Awareness of the Road to Educational Equity for Girls of Color: A Multi-Level Media Strategy
Project Director: Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D.
Funded by: The Schott Foundation for Public Education with Teen Voices

A multifaceted effort with Teen Voices to promote educational equity for girls of color, the project will summarize up-to-date research on the strengths and challenges for girls of color in achieving educational equity in the Boston area and capture on short video clips the points of view of adolescent girls of color and their advocates responding to the research findings. The team will widely disseminate the video clips on social network sites and with multiple educational stakeholders and produce a report that incorporates diverse communities’ responses to the video and the commentary and recommendations it generates.


Providing Technical Assistance to China’s Gender, Law, and Anti-Discrimination Experts: Strengthening the Gender and Law Network
Project Director: Rangita de Silva-de Alwis, S.J.D.
Funded by: The Ford Foundation

This project will continue and build upon the work of previous Ford-funded initiatives in support of emerging developments in gender and law in China. In addition, the project advances the work of the China Gender and Law expert group that was convened at Wellesley College in 2009 which developed a platform of action around three strategic areas of programming. These areas include anti-discrimination, domestic violence, and gender equality. The network also agreed to review the platform of action at biannual meetings that could be used as a benchmark to monitor and evaluate the individual and collective work of network members. The current phase of the project will expand the network of China’s gender and law experts by broadening the scope of their work to engage with experts working on criminal law and criminal procedure reform and different categories of discrimination. A compilation of papers by China’s gender and law experts will be published by the Wellesley Centers for Women.


Physical Activity Study in the Natick Public Schools: Focus on Boks
Project Director: Georgia Hall, Ph.D.
Funded by: Reebok International LTD

Georgia Hall, Ph.D. will direct a multi-year Physical Activity Study in the Natick Public Schools (Natick, MA) with a special investigation of the BOKS (formerly known as Fit Kidz Get Up & Go) before-school physical activity program. The BOKS program aims to improve kids’ academic performance and overall health using physical activity to jump start chil­dren’s brains in the morning and better equip them for learn­ing, increasing opportunities for kids to be physically active and fit, and creating healthier habits for children to achieve life-long fitness. Focusing on grades K-2, a team of researchers from the National Institute on Out-of-School Time at the Wellesley Centers for Women will examine and document child-level academic, social, nutrition knowledge, and physical outcomes associated with participation in BOKS over time.


The Massachusetts Women’s Justice Network
Project Director: Erika Kates, Ph.D.
Funded by: The Gardiner Howland Shaw Foundation

The Massachusetts Women’s Justice Network (MWJN) will continue and extend the work of two previous Shaw-funded initiatives: the Women in Prison Coalition (2009-2010), identifying promising gender-responsive, community-based programs for women offenders in Massachusetts, and the Reentry and Alternatives to Incarceration (ATI) project (2010­-2011), exploring alternatives to incarceration for women in Massachusetts. The current project will create a Massachusetts Women’s Justice Network to implement the recommenda­tions of the 2011 report, and develop a model program for women at risk of involvement in the criminal justice system. The MWJN will continue the Wellesley Centers for Women tradition of undertaking action-oriented research designed to improve women’s lives, by highlighting the continuing inequi­ties affecting women offenders, building a broad constituency of support for justice concerns, and exploring alternative, more cost-effective approaches to incarceration. The MWJN will draw on the knowledge and expert support gained through previous projects and work towards establishing a MWJN Center that will move its current resources and activities to the next level.


Improving Teacher Quality Through Seed: Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity
Project Director: Peggy McIntosh, Ph.D.
Funded by: The W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The aim of this three-year initiative is to expand the National SEED Project on Inclusive Curriculum, and make its model of schooling inclusiveness for all children and families, including its innovative teaching practices, more widely known and available to educators in the United States. The SEED Project will double its summer training of teachers and parents to lead SEED seminars in their communities from 40 to 80, and will also enable educators from 18 rural and urban schools which serve the most vulnerable populations the opportunity to start SEED seminars without paying the usual fees to participate and to integrate SEED work into their underserved communities. Read full announcement on page 16.


Family Court Snapshot Data Collection Project
Project Director: Monica Driggers, J.D.
Funded by: The Boston Foundation

This funding will support a final report of the results and recommendations resulting from the Family Court Snapshot Data Collection Project, which gathered data from seven greater-Boston area family courts to determine whether inadequate responses from the family court system result in poor case outcomes for victims of domestic violence. Having completed the quantitative data analysis, this funding will support the completion of qualitative data analysis and allow the project to gather information from other states for a comparative analysis of family courts’ litigant assessment practices. The report will be developed with input from the anti-domestic violence community and capitalize on existing relationships with the family courts and the probation department to craft practical recommendations for court policy and practice changes in Massachusetts and elsewhere.


Additional Funding

Rangita de Silva-de Alwis, S.J.D. received support from Tetra Tech ARD under a United States Agency for International Development contract to assess and mainstream gender and disability in the Palestinian community, providing guidance on the inclusion of people with disabilities at all levels and in all areas of the international development process. The manual resulting from this work on development and decision-making processes in post-conflict situations will be used as a standard-setting volume for the Middle East and North Africa region.

Sumru Erkut, Ph.D. received continued funding from Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts for evaluation of the impact of Get Real: Comprehensive Sex Education that Works, a comprehensive middle school sex education curriculum, on middle school students’ sexual health outcomes, including delayed sexual initiation and correct and consistent use of protection among those who become sexually active.

Amy Hoffman, M.F.A. received continuing operating support for the Women’s Review of Books from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

The Jean Baker Miller Training Institute at the Wellesley Centers for Women received gifts from various individuals and supporters.

Nancy Marshall, Ed.D. received support for consultation and evaluation on the National Center for Family Homelessness project from Technical Development Corporation and support for data analysis from Associated Early Care and Education.

Peggy Mcintosh, Ph.D. and the National SEED Project (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) at the Wellesley Centers for Women received additional funding from various individuals and supporters of SEED.

The National Institute on Out-Of-School Time (NIOST) at the Wellesley Centers for Women received support for training, technical assistance projects, and continuing evaluations from United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley; City of White Plains, NY; United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania; Framingham Public Schools; Montgomery County Collaboration Council; Christopher House; Leominster Public Schools; Boston Afterschool & Beyond; Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool Youth Development Network; and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Additionally, NIOST received continuing support from the Robert Bowne Foundation to support the Afterschool Matters initiative.

The Open Circle program at the Wellesley Centers for Women received continuing support from the Vanderbilt Family Foundation to provide scholarships to subsidize fees for Open Circle training for teachers from Boston Public Schools. Open Circle also received various gifts from friends and supporters of the social and emotional learning program.

Michelle Porche, Ed.D. received additional support from the Latin American Health Alliance and the University of Massachusetts Medical School for data analysis on the Hector Reyes House Project investigating substance use and trauma among Latino men.

Joanne Roberts, Ph.D. and Wendy Robeson, Ed.D. received additional support from Providence Plan, Ready to Learn Providence under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education for evaluation of the Early Reading First Program.

Allison Tracy, Ph.D. and Wendy Surr, M.A. received supplemental support from the William T. Grant Foundation for the continued refinement and validation of the Assessing Afterschool Program Practices Tool (APT).

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