Ganey Collaborative Community-Based Research Seed Grant

ganey Collaborative Community-Based Research Seed Grant

The Center offers a Seed Grant in the amount of $7,000 to support joint faculty-student-community research partnerships addressing a need articulated by the community organization. These grants may support the planning and development of new projects, the expansion of existing ones, or the evaluation of on-going or previously completed projects. 

The purposes of the grants are to foster faculty-student-community partnerships that: 

  • Result in measurable, positive impact in the South Bend area;
  • Reflect the investment of both faculty and community partner expertise in the local community; and
  • Offer students community-based learning opportunities that promote civic responsibility.

When the grant recipient is announced, the partnership will receive up to $6,000 to cover costs associated with the project, to be kept in the faculty partner's account. The remaining $1,000 will be similarly awarded within three years of the first part of the grant disbursement if the partnership can show: (1) evidence of the positive impact the partnership has had locally, and (2) a refereed publication, or other work considered of high merit in the faculty member’s field, or a presentation at a national or regional conference.

The Center for Social Concerns is currently accepting proposals for the 2017 Collaborative Community-Based Research Seed Grants and Graduate Student Community-Based Research Stipend.

Graduate Student Community-Based Research Stipend

Proposals are sought specifically for projects facilitated by graduate students. Proposals will follow the same criteria as for other Seed Grants except there will be no need to provide a budget for the proposed project as funds granted will go to the income of the graduate student project facilitator in the amount of $3,000.

2016 Graduate Student Community-Based Research Stipend

Inspiring High School Students to Enter STEM Careers Using Quantum Physics Demos

Rodolfo Capdevilla (Physics, graduate student), Kenneth Cecire (National Quark Net), Don Howard (Philosophy), and Mitchell Wayne (Physics)

STEM engagement and education has been defined as a critical national need. In Indiana, only 27% of the degrees obtained are STEM-related, and less than four percent of the workforce is involved in STEM fields in a technology-driven economy. Quantum physics is a modern paradigm upon which all new physics research relies. It has impacted our lives with many technological applications, including lasers, MRI scanning, and LED devices. STEM education can create a scientifically literate population. As such, quantum physics can be an entry for training students for the STEM workforce, as well as to be leaders and innovators in STEM fields.

This project represents the collaboration of high school physics teachers from South Bend who participate in Quark Net, national QuarkNet staff, and Notre Dame professors and students. Funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy, QuarkNet is a collaboration between physics teachers and physicists to bring particle physics to high school classrooms. The purpose of this research is to design and test demonstrations in quantum physics embedded in career orientation seminars in order to increase STEM engagement in local high schools. The demonstrations central to this project are more than pedagogical models; they are career orientation seminars. In addition, the team will present less complex demonstrations to parents simultaneously to increase STEM awareness.

Data collection in the form of surveys and interviews will follow the demonstrations. The data will be analyzed, first of all, to measure the engagement of students in STEM-related activities offered before or after school.  Next, researchers will measure the short-term impact of the project on grades in science classes. Finally, the long -term impact will be determined starting from the second or third year of the project, tracking students who pursue STEM-related careers after high school.  

The initial focus of this project is South Bend; it is to be delivered at three South Bend high schools: John Adams High School, Riley High School, and Washington High School. The partnership with QuarkNet, however, will help to disseminate this research. Seminars could be replicated at other high schools nationally or even internationally.  

Community-Based Research Seed Grant Application Consultation 

Faculty, area community members, and students are encouraged to request a consultation with the grants administrator, Danielle Wood to assist them in the proposal development process. Consultations can provide an overview of grant requirements, tips on writing strong proposals, and/or feedback on your specific project.



Improving Academic Achievement through Brain Health and Growth Mindset Education

Nancy Michael (Neuroscience and Behavior), Velshonna Luckey (Robinson Community Learning Center), and Andrea Christensen (Psychology)

Our technology culture has evolved at a pace that far exceeds our physiological adaptation, and this phenomenon is taking a significant toll on the brain development.  In recent years, there is an abundance of primary literature demonstrating the importance of things like early life enrichment, sleep, and limited screen time for appropriate brain development and health, including emotional regulation, attention, empathy (Liberzon et al., 2015; Takeuchi et al., 2015, Bredy et al., 2003). The translation of such data into practice, however, is significantly lagging.

Many children and adolescents now grow up in environments that are deprived of the most basic experiences that have long sculpted our most essential human characteristics: determination, problem solving, resiliency, and ingenuity; characteristics necessary for academic achievement. As such, children may be labeled as “smart,” “challenging,” “dumb,” “remedial,” from a very young age, and these labels create a “fixed” mindset – a child’s belief that they were born this way and incapable of changing. Acquisition of such fixed beliefs so early in life limit one’s belief in their self-efficacy (Pajades, 1996). Something as straightforward as an individual’s mindset – believing one can change vs. believing one cannot - can determine one’s ability to succeed in and out of the classroom (Dweck, 2006).

The goal of this research is to determine whether age-appropriate Brain Health Curriculum developed with underlying growth mindset themes improves mindset, academic self-concept, and improves behavioral and educational outcomes.  Using a quasi-experimental, mixed-methods approach, researchers will first develop grade-appropriate, engaging activities that deliver brain health messages with growth-mindset themes and positive behavioral change suggestions.  Each activity will target a specific grade level and brain health message, and will be aligned to Indiana State Science Standards. As the modules are delivered, team members will collect pre/post surveys on brain health knowledge, intention to change relevant behaviors, RCLC behavioral observations, and validated measures on mindset, self-efficacy, and academic self-concept. Using these data, the research team will assess whether or not age-appropriate Brain Health curriculum improved behavioral choices both in and out of the classroom over the short (end of semester) and long-term (6-month post). 

Researchers will use these data and informal observations to improve the brain-health curriculum for future semesters. Once developed and validated, they intend to offer this curriculum to South Bend Public Schools and surrounding districts.  Upper classmen students in the Neuroscience and Behavior major will serve as “boots on the ground” for implementation in local schools, offering the brain health curriculum as a service to teachers, providing consistent in-service programming across grade levels. Although the emphasis is influencing the education curriculum locally, there is long-term potential for statewide and national dissemination.  

Child Socioemotional and Academic Outcomes in Latino and Minority Families

Julie Braungart-Rieker (Psychology), Sam Centellas (LaCasa de Amistad), Dianna Tran (Psychology, graduate student), and Angelica Frausto (Psychology, graduate student)

Children from low-income families are at greater risk for developing poor socioemotional skills than their higher-income counterparts (National Center for Children in Poverty, 2009). In addition, past research has shown that children who are not proficient in English by age five will experience slower growth in reading ability than their English proficient counterparts until middle school (Lonigan, C.J., Farver, J.M., 2013). Since Latinos are overrepresented among the poor (Whitson, 2007) and parenting is a predictor of socioemotional development, understanding family and sociocultural influences on Latino child development has become increasingly important. Despite an increasing Latino population in the United States, there is little research on Latino families and their function.

La Casa de Amistad has in its mission to strengthen families and improve youth literacy rates within that population. In order for community-based organizations like La Casa to effectively strengthen the communities that they serve, it is critical that they understand Latino family functioning and the effects of parental English proficiency on a child’s literacy. An ecological perspective, which emphasizes the influence of contextual factors such as the immediate and extended family and socioeconomic and sociocultural influences, would help researchers and program providers understand the interplay of a range of risk factors in this population.

This project will examine how sociocultural and economic factors influence parenting as well as behavioral, academic, and socioemotional child outcomes in Latino families. Using a mixed-methods design, researchers will collect data through surveys and observation on parental beliefs about parenting practices, child socioemotional outcomes, child and parent English language proficiency, mother and father involvement, extended family influences, and income stability. Graduate and undergraduate research assistants will record and code mother-child and father-child reading and play interactions. The aim of the assessments is to determine whether (1) parent English proficiency predicts child literacy in a Latino population; (2) parent and extended family involvement influence child socioemotional development and literacy; (3) the income stability of the father influences his perceived competence in fathering and hence his level of involvement; (4) beliefs about the gender role of the father predict paternal involvement and partner support. 

This research aims to contribute to knowledge on the behavioral and socioemotional development of Latino children, and the influences of paternal involvement. A community-based approach allows researchers to develop questions and measures that more accurately reflect the local Latino community; by working with La Casa de Amistad, the data and analysis are more able to inform their intervention and prevention programs. This will have a direct impact on the Latino population in South Bend and, through the contributions made to the literature, beyond.

The Investigative Teams Model: A Meaningful Voice for People in Poverty in Partnership with Allies

Sandra Collins (Business Management, University of Notre Dame), Dennis Kaplan (United Way of St. Joseph County), Nancy King (St. Joseph County Bridges Out of Poverty), Frances Kominkiewicz (Social Work, St. Mary’s College), Jessica McManus Warnell, (Business Management, University of Notre Dame) Lesley Weiss, (Social Work, Indiana University South Bend), and David Vanderveen (Hope Ministries)

Poverty is a national problem with about 14.9 percent of Americans falling below the poverty threshold in 2015. Among minorities, women, and the elderly, the percentage is even higher. As a nation, we know a great deal about the statistics and the general causes of poverty, but less about effective means for moving individuals out of poverty. In part, this is due to inability to create generalized solutions to a problem that, though national, has local expressions; each community has its own unique poverty profile.

Poverty is an epidemic in our local community. In South Bend, more than 40% of children live below the poverty level and St. Joseph County has the seventh highest poverty rate in the state of Indiana. It also has the fourth highest number of children who qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch and the fourth highest number of people who qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). More than 40% of county residents meet ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed) criteria, which are households that earn more than the U.S. poverty level, but less than the basic cost of living for the county. For single mothers with children under 18, the chances of living in poverty are almost 60% compared to almost 40% nationally. Because communities have unique poverty profiles, they require solutions that target the particular barriers to moving out of poverty faced by their residents.

This research will explore the viability and effectiveness of the Investigative Teams model as a tool for identifying barriers to advancing people out of poverty. The Investigative Teams (INTeams) model offers service organizations an approach to discovering local barriers to moving out of poverty, a method for producing innovative solutions for overcoming local barriers, and a ready network to advocate for adoption of those solutions. The model is characterized by assembling small groups of under-resourced and resourced people who meet together regularly to discuss lived experiences of the challenges of poverty.

Allowing under-resourced and resourced allies to meet together and collaboratively identify barriers and concerns may lead to better information and a deeper understanding of what does and doesn’t work for those in poverty, which could influence programing and policy in a meaningful way. In addition, this unique model allows this information to be relayed in a relational way from the under-resourced team members directly to resourced people who are likely to be in positions within the community with the power to influence positive change. After the research team refines and validates the INTeams model, it can be replicated throughout St. Joseph County and shared with other communities.


Guidelines and Requirements