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Faculty, doctoral students receive NECoPA best paper award

By Tiffany Murray-Robertson

A paper authored by four researchers at the Wilder School has received a “Best Academic Paper Award” from the Northeast Conference on Public Administration (NECoPA).

Susan T. Gooden, Ph.D., professor of public administration and lead author of "Getting Schooled: How African American-led Nonprofit Organizations Promote Positive Youth Outcomes” will accept the award at the 2016 NECoPA Conference in Harrisonburg, Pa., November 11-13.  The NECoPA award recognizes outstanding scholarship and is determined through a rigorous process involving a blind review of accepted submissions by a panel of scholars from various universities, state and federal agencies.

"Our research team is honored to receive this award," Gooden said. "This study suggests that African American-led nonprofit organizations represent an important, and largely under recognized resource in promoting positive youth development within African American communities."

Gooden worked with a team of co-authors that included Wilder School doctoral candidates in public policy and administration Lindsey Evans, Michael Perkins and Yali Pang and Caper Gooden, an international economics graduate student at Johns Hopkins University. The team examined the role of African American-led (AAL) nonprofit organizations in improving youth outcomes in three cities—New York, N.Y.; Somerset, N.J.; and Chicago, Ill—and compared youth served by these nonprofits with demographically similar youth who were not. The study found statistically significant differences between the groups.

Youth who had participated in at least one year of AAL programming reported higher academic achievement, familial support and self-esteem. Researchers believe these findings suggest that AAL nonprofits may be particularly adept at building a strong trust triad between program staff, the youth they serve and their parents/communities. As a result, the authors concluded that AALs may be key in promoting the social and economic opportunity of African American youth.

Advocates for minority youth education and life skills programming, the research team recommends—including potential funders, communities, nonprofit researchers and evaluators—would do well to support the capacity building and evaluation of established AAL nonprofits that “are providing critical, targeted support and leading the dialogue on social equity by advancing important quality of life outcomes for African American youth.”

"Getting Schooled: How African American-led Nonprofit Organizations Promote Positive Youth Outcomes” was supported by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.