Combining the power of town, gown, and policy to end poverty

Combining the power of town, gown, and policy to end poverty

// By Jacqueline Brennan

Imagine the progress we could make toward ending poverty if scholars, communities, and policymakers worked collaboratively on this complex and intractable issue.

Luke Shaefer, Ph.D., director of Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan, says “there’s tremendous potential in action-based partnerships between communities and university researchers to really make headway on issues that can seem difficult.”

He’s looking forward to a “dynamic, reciprocal conversation” about efforts to reduce poverty during his Upswell workshop, “Using Data and University Partnerships to Help Address Poverty,” where he will share tools to help attendees “use research data and analysis in a meaningful way to make a difference on the issues they care about.”

Under the auspices of the Midwest Mobility from Poverty Network, Poverty Solutions focuses on preventing and alleviating poverty through action-based research that informs policymakers, community organizations, government entities, and practitioners about what works in confronting it.

Luke says the initiative is breaking new ground in their effort to “get out of the ivory tower,” connect, and work with communities and policymakers on the concrete challenges people face that often might not be considered.

“Like in Detroit, where we do a lot of our work, we’ve come up against the high cost of auto insurance as a big thing that keeps people from escaping poverty.” He says they want to build a new pathway where scholars can be an important contributor and come to this through the lens of saying, “What can academic researchers at a major university do to help move decisionmakers along and improve policymaking and programs in partnership with community to really make a difference in people’s lives?”

Changemakers will leave the workshop with tools that will help them consider “things they can do to connect with scholars in ways that actually enhance their work,” Luke adds.

“I’m hoping we get changemakers from many different paths, from many different walks, to join in the conversation. I think I’m going to learn a lot and make some connections, and I very much hope and believe that concrete actions will come out of the workshop – either between us, or between changemakers in the room – that are going to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable families.”

Using Data and University Partnerships to Help Address Poverty is happening Thursday, November 14 from 4:15 – 5:30pm.

1600 900 Jacqueline Brennan
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