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Home » Discover Rackham » Announcing the 2019 Public Scholarship Grant Recipients

The Rackham Program in Public Scholarship, with support from the U-M Office of Research, is pleased to announce its 2019 Public Scholarship grant awards to graduate students. The grants, totaling $44,000, support research projects created in partnership between Rackham students and a broad spectrum of community partner organizations.

This year’s six funded projects provide a glimpse into the breadth of Michigan-based organizations and the communities that they serve. Among them are the Ypsilanti Public Library, the Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan, and the Ruth Ellis Center serving LGBTQ youth. Each project results in a public good—informed by their scholarship—which helps to address complex and wide-ranging social and cultural issues, from family literacy programs for bilingual children to a mentorship program for Arabic-speaking immigrant and refugee youth.

“This year’s public scholarship grants will bridge the expertise of our graduate students and important public issues,” Rackham Dean Mike Solomon says. “This aligns with the University of Michigan’s focus on public engagement and impact, ensuring that the knowledge we create here at Michigan is used to help provide better outcomes in our communities.”

A review committee selected the graduate students from a highly competitive pool. Their diverse set of projects demonstrates the scope of public engagement work graduate students are doing at U-M. Beginning early in their careers, the projects students co-created with partners also demonstrate the potential they have to shape the field of publicly scholarship into the future.

The Rackham Program in Public Scholarship has been supporting public scholarship on campus since 1998, when it began as the former Arts of Citizenship Program. Its mission is to support collaborative scholarly and creative endeavors that engage communities and co-create public goods while enhancing students’ professional development around public engagement and community-based learning.

The 2019 Public Scholarship grantees are:

Kathryn Berringer

Ph.D. Candidate, Anthropology and Social Work

“An Organizational and Community History of LGBTQ Organizing in Detroit”

The Ruth Ellis Center in Highland Park, Michigan, is a nonprofit organization providing social and medical services to LGBTQ youth in metropolitan Detroit. The center commemorates Ruth Ellis, a Black lesbian community leader who provided informal care to young people in the Detroit area. This project will involve a collaboration with the center’s Youth Advisory Board to produce a set of interactive multimedia products documenting the history of the center and the communities it serves.

Peter DeJonge

Ph.D. Candidate, Public Health

“Enhancing Data Collection and Utilization Within a Local Child Care Illness Surveillance Network”

The Michigan Child Care Related Infectious Disease Surveillance Program (MCRISP) is an online illness-reporting system for child-care centers in Michigan. The online illness reporting tool is currently designed for academic researchers and public-health officials. With partnerships including the Child Care Network and the Washtenaw County Health Department, this project aims to tailor and relay MCRISP findings back to the community to best mitigate facility illness burden in Washtenaw County.

Maggie Hanna

Ph.D. Student, Educational Studies

“Creando Juntos: Community Language and Literacy Support (CLLS)”

By the 2019–2020 school year, all Michigan students will be affected by the “Read by Grade Three” law, which recommends retention for students who do not pass the standardized state-level English Language Arts test in third grade. English Learners (ELs) may qualify for a “good cause” exemption, but parents have voiced concerns about how to best prepare and advocate for their children. In collaboration with Brilliant Detroit Southwest, which has served hundreds of families through literacy programming, this project aims to inform and support families of ELs in grades K–3 through a community-responsive and intergenerational approach to navigating early literacy in schools. With eight years of teaching experience, Hanna will work with community members to develop workshop materials and a family-literacy curriculum that will be available for implementation at other community centers.

Laura-Ann Jacobs and Ashley Jackson

Ph.D. Students, Educational Studies

“Teen STEAM Cafe: Public Libraries as Empowering Spaces and Powerful Pathways for STEAM Identities”

This project is a partnership with the Ypsilanti Public Library’s downtown branch to create the Teen STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) Cafe discussion series program. Teen STEAM Cafe will be a monthly meeting where the library hosts community speakers who work in STEM field careers. Guest speakers will discuss their work and how they came to be in that career, and host activities related to their career with teens. In collaboration with the library’s Teen Advisory Group, Teen STEAM will offer access to opportunities to learn about and create media projects through experimentation and professional guidance. This project aims to support innovative teen-driven and teen-led program design at the Ypsilanti District Library.

Megh Marathe

Ph.D. Candidate, School of Information

Voices of Epilepsy

This collaboration aims to center the voices and perspectives of people with epilepsy through a podcast series titled Voices of Epilepsy. In partnership with the Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan (EFM), the podcasts will serve as educational resources and sources of inspiration for people with epilepsy. Additionally, the podcasts will increase awareness of and expand the conversation on epilepsy by highlighting the experiential knowledge of people with epilepsy. Voices of Epilepsy will combine EFM’s expertise in patient education and outreach with Marathe’s research on social issues faced by marginalized communities.

Kayla Fike and Ozge Savas

Ph.D. Students, Psychology and Women’s Studies

“Language Advocacy Program” (LAP)

The Language Advocacy Program (LAP) is a mentorship program that will support Arabic-speaking first-generation immigrant and refugee youth in Wayne County. Students from immigrant and refugee backgrounds face several barriers, including barriers to communicating with English-speakers to completion of secondary and post-secondary education. The program’s main objectives include supporting positive educational and occupational outcomes and focuses on linguistic complexity and skills of bilingual youth. In partnership with the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Service (ACCESS), LAP aims to increase the sense of belonging of students and develop confidence to navigate unfamiliar institutional environments.