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Celebrating the launch of Cornell Project 2Gen

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By Stephen D'Angelo for the Cornell Chronicle

Lori Severens, Lindsay Chase-Landsdale, and Lisa Gennetian in panel discussion

Lori Severens, Lindsay Chase-Landsdale, and Lisa Gennetian in panel discussion

At an Oct. 23 symposium, Cornell researchers launched a new Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research initiative: Cornell Project 2Gen, a project that leverages cutting-edge approaches to support vulnerable families and disrupt the intergenerational cycle of poverty.

Project 2Gen, led by co-directors Laura Tach and Rachel Dunifon of the College of Human Ecology’s Department of Policy Analysis and Management, focuses on addressing the needs of at-risk children and their parents to capitalize on the strong connection between parents’ well-being and children’s healthy development.

“Project 2Gen takes a two-generational approach to addressing the needs of vulnerable families by supporting research and programs that consider both parents and children,” Dunifon said. “And so the two-gen approach acknowledges that parents’ well-being and children’s well-being are intertwined, and that we really can’t address one without the other.”

According to Dunifon, the project reflects the mission of the College of Human Ecology, which combines that of a land-grant institution and an Ivy League university. Through this focus, the project aims to build a vibrant research community and outreach network.

“Project 2Gen is going to be a hub of innovative work that brings together research, practitioners and policymakers, developing and carrying out work in this area, testing new approaches, evaluating their effectiveness, and implementing them locally and throughout the state,” Dunifon said.

The approach is gaining momentum because research documents a strong connection between parents’ economic, psychological and social well-being and children’s healthy development.

The project, which will leverage collaboration between the work of students and faculty members across Cornell, is developing partnerships with community, state and national organizations and government agencies to support parents and children simultaneously.

Within this approach, there are several methods researchers and practitioners can use. Some two-generational programs begin by focusing on children and then add a component to support parents, such as parent education or skills classes. Others may focus on parents, then add a component for children, such as child care or nutrition support. Still other approaches target systems that influence families, such as schools or workplaces.

Ithaca mayor Svante Myrick

Ithaca mayor Svante Myrick

The Oct. 23 symposium included a panel of experts focused on the topic Disrupting the Cycle of Poverty: Two-Generation Approaches from Research, Practice and Policy. Panelists were Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, the Frances Willard Professor of Human Development and Social Policy at Northwestern University; Lisa Gennetian, research professor at the Institute for Human Development and Social Change, New York University; Svante Myrick ’09, mayor of Ithaca; and Lori Severens, assistant director at Ascend at the Aspen Institute.

“I want to say thank you for the work you do,” said Myrick, who as a youth took part in the Head Start program, which promotes the school readiness of young children from low-income families through agencies in their local community. “My siblings and I all had an opportunity to start working at age 16, and we were all able to be successful because of the work that you’ve done, the research that you’ve done, to prove that this isn’t only the big-hearted thing to do, but the hard-headed thing to do.”

 

New initiative launched to support vulnerable families - Cornell Chronicle

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4 Postdocs add fresh perspectives to center work

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By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

“One of our main goals in the BCTR is to help train the next generation of translational researchers in the field of human development,” said Karl Pillemer, director of the BCTR. “These emerging scholars greatly benefit our work, bringing in fresh perspectives and new models and methods of connecting research to real-life settings.”

elizabeth day

Elizabeth Day

Elizabeth Day is working on Project 2Gen, a new project that will serve as a hub for research, policy, and practice focused on supporting parents and children together. The mission of 2Gen is to build a vibrant research community of scholars who are focused on building programs and researching how families can fair better when support services focus on both parents and children.

“I was drawn to this post-doc because it offered the opportunity to work on a wide range of issues to find the best ways to support vulnerable families, including work on bridging research and policy,” Day said. “My background involves working at the state and federal levels of government and I have seen first-hand the need for this type of resource.

“I also knew of the high-quality work and high-caliber programs that are housed in the BCTR and was excited for opportunity to work here!”

elmore

Kristen Elmore

Kristen Elmore is working on the Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement, or PRYDE, an effort to partner with 4-H around the state of New York to research programs and factors that encourage healthy youth development.

“My particular research interest is in understanding how youth think about their identities and what goals are possible for them and people like them,” Elmore said. “My work with 4-H examines how experiences in 4-H may shape how youth respond to challenges when pursuing their goals—when do they persist versus move on to something else?”

Elmore’s goal is to create programs that encourage youth from all backgrounds to pursue positive academic and health behaviors. “4-H is the largest youth-serving organization in the U.S., so it’s an ideal setting for designing and implementing programs to support healthy youth development,” she said.

Elmore was attracted to working at the BCTR because of the center’s commitment to using social science to serve the public good. “The wealth of experience and practical knowledge in conducting translational work that can be found among our colleagues at the BCTR is an incredibly rich and unique resource for postdocs,” she said.

sumner

Rachel Sumner

Rachel Sumner is also working on PRYDE, and hopes to focus her research on identity and inclusion in youth programming.

“I hope to conduct research that helps inform decisions made by youth development programs and practitioners, especially decisions related to diversity and inclusion and promoting the development of purpose and identity,” she said.

Sumner was drawn to the BCTR because she wanted to collaborate with people who are working directly with youth. “Involving practitioners throughout the research process yields questions that are more relevant to real-world contexts than questions generated by researchers alone,” she said. “Collaborating with both practitioners and researchers helps me think about the topics I study – purpose in life, identity, diversity in new and interesting ways.”

edwards

Frank Edwards

And Frank Edwards is working with the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN) to develop new ways to evaluate how surveillance systems work, how casework assignments affect families, and whether immigration detention and deportation requires Latino families to use the foster care system more often.

“My work focuses on how social policy institutions affect child and family inequality,” he said. “BCTR provides an exciting combination of applied researchers engaged in improving policy for kids and families, and unparalleled access to administrative data through the NDACAN. Given my research interests, BCTR is a near perfect place to work.”

Edwards’ goal is to better understand how government institutions affect children and to “move the needle on the causes and consequences of family inequality.”

“I hope to shed light on how policy institutions like the criminal justice and means-tested welfare programs contribute to racial inequality that we see in the more disruptive interventions available to child welfare agencies,” he said. “In so doing, I hope to spur conversations about reducing inequalities that take an ecological approach to the relationship between policy environments and child and family well-being.”

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Introducing Cornell Project 2Gen

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2Gen Logo Final Lockups FV_Vertical ColorBy Sheri Hall for the BCTR

BCTR Researchers are launching a new project called Cornell Project 2Gen that focuses on helping vulnerable families by developing programs that support parents and their children jointly.

The approach is gaining momentum within research communities across the country. That’s because research documents a strong connection between parents’ economic, psychological, and social well-being and children’s healthy development.

“The 2Gen approach perfectly fits with the vision of Urie Bronfenbrenner, after whom the BCTR is named,” said Rachel Dunifon, a project leader and professor of policy, analysis and management. “Urie recognized that children develop and grow not in isolation, but in systems, and that in order to affect change, we need to move beyond the individual to incorporate the complex systems in which children live.”

Cornell is kicking the project off with a symposium from 3:00 to 5:00p.m. on October 23 in the Amphitheatre at the Statler Hotel. The symposium will include a panel of experts focused on the topic Disrupting the Cycle of Poverty: Two-Generation Approaches from Research, Practice, and Policy. The panelists are:

  • Lori Severens, Assistant Director at Ascend, The Aspen Institute
  • Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, Frances Willard Professor of Human Development and Social Policy, School of Education and Social Policy, Northwestern University
  • Lisa Gennetian, Research Professor, Institute for Human Development and Social Change, New York University
  • Svante Myrick, Mayor, City of Ithaca

Two-generational programs can begin by focusing on children and then add a component to support parents, such as parent education or skills classes. Others may focus on parents, and then add a component for children, such as child care or nutrition support. Still other approaches target systems that influence families, such as schools or workplaces.

At Cornell, Project 2Gen will focus on building a community of scholars focused on 2Gen approaches to support vulnerable families, working with practitioners and policy makers throughout New York and the nation. This year, Cornell Project 2Gen is awarding funding to research projects that use the 2Gen approach to help vulnerable families and will ultimately inform policy and practice in New York State.

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