Our Research

National Science Foundation Project RAISE with Incarcerated Youth

The Center for Youth Engagement is partnering with the Department of Youth Services (DYS), the Collaborative for Educational Services (CES) in Northampton, and the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) on a $3 million National Science Foundation grant, Project RAISE (Reclaiming Access to Inquiry-based Science). Project RAISE will develop and pilot an innovative biology curriculum to youth involved in the Massachusetts juvenile justice system. The curriculum will use project-based inquiry science instruction and will be based upon the principals of Universal Design for Learning to account for a wide range of variability in student learning styles and levels. Project RAISE will create virtual laboratory experiences and other project based activities that students can access with tablet computers and other technologies. As the sole provider of general and special education services to youth in Department of Youth Services (DYS) settings, CES will work with UMass and other Project RAISE partners to implement a pilot and evaluation of the curriculum in in DYS facilities across the state in 2017.

National Science Foundation STEM Career Exploration and Readiness Environment project with Opportunity Youth

The National Science Foundation STEM Career Exploration and Readiness Environment (CEE-STEM) four-year grant project will support opportunity youth, 16-24-year-olds who are neither in school nor employed, in rebuilding their engagement in STEM learning and in developing STEM skills and capacities that will prepare them for diverse postsecondary education/training and employment pathways. CYE will partner with the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), an internationally recognized leader in using the UDL framework to expand educational opportunities for marginalized students through technology-based learning environments, and YouthBuild, an international organization that provides meaningful educational, service, and career development experiences to opportunity youth. YouthBuild programs teach young people construction skills through building affordable housing for homeless and low-income people in their neighborhoods, unleashing the positive energy of low-income youth to rebuild their communities and their lives, breaking the cycle of poverty with a commitment to work, education, family, and community. The CEE-STEM program model includes contextualized classroom STEM instruction; hands-on training in career pathways such as green construction, health care, and technology; and a tech-based platform with multimedia STEM success case studies and a personalized e-portfolio for students to record STEM careers of interest and chronicle their STEM learning in both classroom and job sites related to those careers.

Shannon Community Safety Initiative with Gang Involved Youth

The Senator Charles E. Shannon Community Safety Initiative (Shannon CSI) is a state grant program administered by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) to "support regional and multi-disciplinary approaches to combat gang violence through coordinated programs for prevention and intervention". The Center for Youth Engagement (CYE) is serving as the Local Action Research Partners (LARPs) to provide strategic, analytic, and research support, as well as evaluate programs for the Holyoke/Chicopee site. The CYE works with law enforcement agencies to better understand the intersection between gangs and the community and to more accurately and efficiently identify those youth at high risk for future gang involvement. It also works with service partners to link those youth with intensive coordinated services. All findings from evaluation and research activities are used to improve, modify, and adapt program activities to ensure that they are meeting the overall goals of reductions in youth violence and youth gang activity in Holyoke and Chicopee.

Massachusetts 21st Century Community Learning Centers Continuation Grant: Boys and Girls Club of Greater Holyoke

The 21st Century project is a program designed to improve educational outcomes for youth with emotional and behavioral disorders in alternative schools. The CYE partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Holyoke to provide a project based learning science program for about 20 high-risk youth with EBD from Holyoke, MA each year. We provided intensive out of school field based science experiences for disengaged learners. We had at least two field-based experiences each week, providing youth with hands-on learning opportunities. Activities included caving, kayaking on the Connecticut River, falconry, nature hikes, model rocketry, and birding, bridge building, among many others. Our approach to project based learning increased youth attendance, engagement in learning, interest in science, and academic achievement. The CYE developed the program elements, and provided project based learning opportunities to the youth.

Holyoke Safe and Successful Youth Initiative

The Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (SSYI) was designed to reduce youth homicides and serious assaults by offering daily programs in education, helping the men find jobs vocational training and mental health services. The CYE director designed and evaluated the Holyoke SSYI program, and supported the development and implementation of the program. Through the guidance of the CYE, the program implemented a wraparound service model for approximately 60 proven risk youth. The program implemented a community based mental health provider, housing, HiSET classes, job training, transitional employment, and supported employment. The primary means of engaging and retaining youth was an intensive outreach and street outreach program that utilized mobile data management systems designed by the CYE.

International Collaboration on Inclusion

The CYE is a primary member of an international collaboration on inclusion. Specifically, The CYE provides the collaborative with expertise on disengaged youth, youth involved in the justice system, and youth in alternative settings. The CYE hosted the first international symposium in 2021 at UMass Amherst. The CYE has been integral in the development of the First and Second International conferences on inclusion, held in Wuppertal, Germany. This year, the CYE is hosting the 3rd International Conference at the UMass Center in Springfield MA, hosting participants from the U.S., Germany, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Canada. The CYE has also led the development and administration of the international survey on inclusion. The CYE led the development of the survey, and has translated the survey into German, Turkish, and Arabic.

Functional Family Therapy

The CYE has partnered with FFT to develop novel ways to deliver and study FFT. Currently, CYE is evaluating the implementation of an FFT model in Holyoke, MA. Additionally, the CYE is working with FFT to develop a technology based FFT training model to determine if evidence-based practices can be implemented more efficiently while maintaining effective practices.

Project Based Learning

The CYE has a history of supporting Project Based Learning. They designed and implemented a PBL project in Holyoke (21st Century Initiative). They are currently leading the development of a PBL project in the DYS (Project RAISE). They are also currently implementing a PBL reading initiative with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders in an out of school program in Holyoke MA.

School to Prison Pipeline

The CYE has done extensive work examining the School to Prison Pipeline. They have conducted several investigations of school disciplinary policies, and the disproportionate suspension of marginalized youth. They have partnered with the EDJJ to examine school referrals to the courts, and are currently involved in initiatives to prevent unnecessary use of school suspensions and school referrals to the courts.