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National and Area Poverty Research Centers, FY 2002: Announcement

The Department announced on October 4, 2002, $2.3 million in cooperative agreements to support continued research and evaluation of important and emerging social policy issues associated with the nature, causes, correlates, and effects of income dynamics, poverty, individual and family functioning and child well-being. The grantee for the national center is the University of Michigan. The three grantees for the area centers are the University of Wisconsin at Madison, University of Kentucky, and University of Missouri.

Background on Announcement of Award

On June 18, 2002, ASPE announced the availability of funds for a national poverty research center and area poverty research centers. This announcement continues ASPE's longstanding support of national poverty centers. This also marks the beginning of a new ASPE poverty research initiative  the Area Poverty Research Center. These centers will focus on issues of regional or state interest to further enhancing the understanding of the nature, causes, correlates, and effects of poverty and program and policies to ameliorate it.

ASPE continues its program of support for a national poverty center which will plan and conduct a broad program of policy research and mentoring of emerging scholars to describe and analyze national, regional and state environment (e.g., economics, demographics) and policies affecting the poor, particularly those families with children who are poor or at-risk of being poor. This research and evaluation program will focus on important and emerging social policy issues associated with the nature, causes, correlates, and effects of income dynamics, poverty, individual and family functioning and child well-being.

The new area research center cooperative agreements are for qualified institutions to provide a focused agenda expanding our understanding of the causes, consequences and effects of poverty in local geographic areas or specific substantive areas, especially in states or regional areas of high concentrations of poverty. These cooperative agreements are intended to create a research opportunity for scholars and institutions otherwise unlikely to participate extensively in HHS programs to support the Nation's poverty research effort.

Summary of FY 2002 Poverty Research Center Cooperative Agreements

National Poverty Center:

University of Michigan: National Poverty Center

The center will focus on a diverse set of activities including: conferences, published papers/books, grants, bi-weekly seminars, Detroit Area Study, training and mentoring, newsletters, working papers, and a web page. The research agenda will address the ASPE's priorities and presents a good approach for stimulating outside researchers to address important poverty and policy questions. Central to the meeting of center objectives will be the use of competitive research grants and annual conferences. Mentoring and training will include graduate fellowships, training workshops and a summer training institute. Dissemination activities will include a newsletter, working papers, web casting and a web page. The Center will be lead by co-directors, Rebecca Blank and Sheldon Danziger, and be located in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

Area Poverty Research Centers:

University of Wisconsin Madison: Area Poverty Research Center

The Institute for Research on Poverty's (IRP) Area Poverty Research Center will build on the institute's past 36 years of experience as a national poverty center. The IRP area center will focus its agenda on the Midwestern states. The primary focus will be on innovations to state and local anti-poverty programs, development of locally relevant data sources, qualitative research into the institutional and administrative aspects of program design, state welfare issues, and a strengthening of the Midwest Peer Assistance Welfare Network (WELPAN). A new area center will build on much of the existing infrastructure and research expertise within the current IRP, and many of the staff will be well-known poverty scholars and researchers. The dissemination strategy consists of primarily web-based publications, but will build on an extensive circulation and recognition of the institute's existing newsletter. The center will provide support, training and mentoring to five graduate research fellows each year and encourage students to pursue graduate degrees in poverty related fields by increasing the visibility of these issues in various curricula.

University of Kentucky: Kentucky Center for Poverty Research

The University of Kentucky will establish an interdisciplinary area center with a research focus on Kentucky and the South. A focused research agenda on the causes, consequences, and effects of poverty and its correlates in this region is critical, because 1) Poverty and income inequality are more pronounced in the South than the nation as a whole, 2) Cash welfare and food stamp utilization is likewise higher in the South, and 3) Labor market opportunities are weaker in this region relative to the nation. First-year projects will include research on the impact of Medicaid on infant and child well being in Kentucky as well as the link between poverty and intimate partner violence and the attendant implications on labor-market status. Future work will build on these themes. Institutional resources at the university include a community of poverty scholars, social and behavioral science programs, and numerous research centers and institutes. An internal executive committee and national advisory committee will guide the long-term direction of the center. To foster additional research, the center will support a competitive internal grants program, a regional small grants competition, and a seminar series. Mentoring activities will include an emerging scholars program to support young, untenured poverty scholars; a dissertation fellowship program; research assistantships for graduate and undergraduate students; and courses on poverty issues. Dissemination will be conducted through a web page, working paper series, quarterly regional written policy brief, and on-site policy briefings at the annual meetings of the Southern Governors Association and Southern Legislative Conference.

University of Missouri: RUPRI Rural Poverty Research Center

The University of Missouri will develop an interdisciplinary research center focused on 1) understanding the causes and effects of poverty in rural, and particularly remote and persistently poor, areas; 2) analyzing the policies, programs, and interventions that could improve the self-sufficiency and well-being of individuals, families and children; and 3) improving the capacity of communities to provide opportunities and support for low-income workers, families, and children. The center will bring together staff and institutional infrastructure from the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI), Regional Rural Development Centers, and the School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri-Columbia. The goals of the Rural Poverty Research Center are 1) the creation of a national dialogues within the poverty research, policy, and practitioner community, intended to result in the establishment of a nationally integrative rural poverty research agenda, 2) implementation of this strategy through the creation of the collaborative institutional infrastructure essential for the success of a scholarly community committed to the national rural poverty research agenda, 3) the nurturing of young scholars and the enhancement of a scholarly community, and 4) linkages to policymakers and practitioners to ensure these communities are engaged in, and take action upon, the results of this national initiative. First-year research will include projects on welfare leavers and stayers in Missouri and community capacity in rural areas. An aim of the center is that a long-term national rural poverty research agenda will guide future research. The center will initiate development of such an agenda in year 1 through holding a national research agenda-setting conference that will engage noted poverty scholars. In years 2 and 3, the center will co-sponsor four rural poverty research conferences, which will build on previous work and engage young scholars.

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