2024 Youth Equity Project Seed Grant Award Winners Announced

January 12, 2024 - Emily Jodway

Five graduate students and one faculty member from across the University were recently announced as recipients of MSU Youth Equity Project seed grants. This is the second year that YEP has awarded these grants, which exist to help fund research projects supporting the mission of this thematic area.

Led by Dr. Emilie Smith and housed in the College of Social Science, the Youth Equity Project seeks to investigate disparities among marginalized youth and their families and how these youths can be supported throughout adolescence. This research can be brought forth to local community organizations and justice systems to assist in the creation of policies and programs to better assist these families disproportionately affected by violence, poverty and discrimination.

“I am so proud of the Youth Equity Project Seed Grant initiative chaired by Dr. Caitlin Cavanagh,” Dr. Smith commented. “These grants well represent our interdisciplinary mission with projects emanating from Social Work, Criminal Justice, and Education. These projects explore so many facets of the lives of marginalized youth including policies that affect the well-being of marginalized youth in areas such as paid leave, linguistic support for immigrant youth, and culturally informed approaches seeking to foster positive identities and development.  We look forward to the contributions of these developing researchers in socially-relevant community engaged work.”

This year’s Seed Grant initiative was led by associate professor of criminal justice Caitlin Cavanaugh and graduate assistant Simone Bibbs. Lamia Bagasrawala, Alyssa LaBerge, Mary McConnaha, Laxmi Prasad Ojha and Jennifer Tanis, all of whom are doctoral students, each received grants. Noreen Naseem Rodriguez, an assistant professor in the elementary education, educational justice and Asian Pacific American studies programs, was awarded the faculty grant.

seedBagasrawala (left), a student in Counseling, Educational Psychology, and Special Education (CEPSE), is researching school connectedness, mental health and intersecting identities among Asian Indian adolescents. She is conducting her research using an AsianCrit framework, an offshoot of Critical Race Theory which directly addresses the voices and experiences of Asian Americans. Fellow education student Mary McConnaha’s (pictured right) project is titled, ‘Co-Creating a Culturally Relevant Summer Literacy Program for Incarcerated Youth.’

seedgrantLaBerge (left) is a criminal justice student whose work is titled ‘Juvenile Risk and Need Assessment: An Examination of Predictive Validity for Dual System Youth.’ Also from the College of Social Science is Tanis (right) , a social work student, who is researching the role of state-level paid family leave for infant maltreatment prevention. The final student awarded was Ojha (bottom left), who will be researching transnational immigrant youths who are navigating the educational world as culturally diverse students. 

seedgrantDr. Naseem Rodriguez’s (pictured right) research project is titled, ‘Know History, Know Self: Youth Efforts for Asian American Studies in Georgia and Texas.’ This parallels her main research focus areas such as the practices of teachers of color and the teaching of difficult histories through the use of children’s literature and other primary sources.

To learn more about the Youth Equity Project and their research efforts in the community and beyond, click here