Public Service Endowment Grants Announced

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Four projects proposed by faculty members have been awarded Public Service Endowment Grants from a special campus fund designed to boost outreach, extend the campus resources into the surrounding community and enhance the public service mission of the university.

The grants, administered by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement, support collaborations between community partners and university scholars to address complex public issues through community-informed projects. The program’s vision statement calls on it to emphasize “converting knowledge into readily usable forms for immediate applications.” Projects are expected to be completed by July 31, 2020.

Robert Maloy, a senior lecturer in the College of Education, with associate professor of math, science and learning technologies Torrey Trust, with communications staff at the W.E.B. DuBois Library, will collaborate with a group of local middle and high school teachers to research, evaluate and publish an interactive open educational resource e-book for teachers to use in teaching the state’s new eighth grade history and social science curriculum,“United States and Massachusetts Government and Civic Life.” The lead community partner for this $12,021 award to Maloy is Amherst Regional Middle School with additional participation by The Springfield Renaissance School, Gateway Regional Middle School and Hampshire Regional High School.

Researchers Airin Martinez and Susan Shaw of the Center for Community Health Equity Research in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences will team up with Holyoke Health Center, the convener of a community-engaged obesity prevention initiative, “Let’s Move Holyoke 5-2-1-0,” for their project awarded $12,271. The “Let’s Move Holyoke 5-2-1-0” is to create environments to support healthy choices in adults and children such as eating 5 or more fruits and vegetables per day, spending 2 hours or less of screen time, getting 1 hour of exercise, and drinking 0 sugary beverages a day. More than a dozen community partner organizations in the Holyoke area will participate.The researchers plan to produce a program evaluation to help future streamlining the “Let’s Move” implementation and to produce pilot data to support future funding efforts.

For a project that aims to support secondary school writing centers in Western Massachusetts, Anna Rita Napoleone, director of the UMass Writing Center, will collaborate with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project and Frontier Regional High School in South Deerfield, Athol-Royalston Middle School and Greenfield High School – schools identified as high need – to conduct a study group that will plan the launch of a writing center at Frontier in 2019-20. The group will also develop plans for writing centers at Athol-Royalston and Greenfield with its $15,000 grant, and create a support network for all Western Massachusetts public schools interested in developing writing centers in their schools.

The Isenberg School of Management’s Senay Solak, director of the honors program and associate professor of pperations and information management, with assistant professor Priyank Arora, will partner with Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Careand New England Farm Workers Council, the child care resource and referral agency for western Massachusetts, in a study awarded $10,708 that isaimed at improving the impact of the childcare subsidy voucher system in the state. They will study strategic resource allocation decisions by childcare resource and referral agencies to identify policies that can help the agencies better serve people by improving access and equity in the state’s childcare subsidy voucher system. Specifically, they will analyze how the split of an agency’s operating budget between engagement and outreach activities might affect operational effectiveness, efficiency and equity, while taking intoaccount the perspectives of the childcare resource and referral agencies themselves, state agencies, providers and families.