Urban Education, Prevention & Policy Research Print E-mail

Research in the area of Urban Education, Prevention & Policy Research (UEPP) examines cultural and contextual factors that influence psycho-social, behavioral health, and achievement outcomes among low-income and minority youth populations in school and community settings. Research activities center on youth development involve the design and assessment of preventive interventions that promote psychological adjustment and adaptive functioning toward the reduction of problem behaviors associated with negative developmental outcomes (e.g., substance use, delinquency, violence, risky behaviors). Regarding our work with families, UEPPR conducts research that investigates the influence of stress among mother-adolescent dyads and the buffering effect coping has on primary- and mental health outcomes for both mothers and teens, parenting practices, substance use and educational outcomes for adolescents. Our goal is to develop culturally congruent, family-focused interventions aimed at stress reduction and the development of effective coping skills to improve family functioning and quality of life. Additionally, our team engages in comprehensive urban school reform efforts where she engages schools and communities in the development, implementation and evaluation of systemic interventions designed to improve school climate, academic performance and educational trajectories of low-income and minority youth. Our research is funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

  • Prevention of Adolescent Substance Use & Risk Behaviors: Examines ecological factors that influence social, behavioral, health, and achievement outcomes for low-income and minority youth. Research activities emphasize the development of social and behavioral interventions aimed at risk reduction and competence promotion among minority youth who are at high risk for delinquency, substance use, behavior problems, and academic failure. Currently, Dr. Nadia Ward is the principal investigator of a $14K, seven-year longitudinal study of a comprehensive urban school reform initiative that is designed to support the social-emotional, academic, and health outcomes among 3,000 low-income and urban middle and high school students. This study examines the impact of a comprehensive district-wide intervention on indicators of academic performance, educational aspirations and attainment, mental health, as well as social and behavioral indicators.
  • Stress as a Biological Risk Factor for Risk Behaviors and Substance Abuse: This study examines the influence of stress and coping on primary- and mental health outcomes among mother-adolescent dyads and the buffering effect coping has on primary- and mental health outcomes for both mothers and teens, parenting practices, substance use, educational and developmental outcomes for adolescents. This study uses a mixed methods approach to understand the phenomenological experience of low-income, single mothers and their teenage children as relates to stress and coping. Intervention research will investigate the effectiveness of a family-focused intervention on stress reduction (as measured by biological markers), improved physical-and mental health outcomes, parenting practices as well as overall quality of family life.


Our Team:

Nadia L. Ward, M.Ed., Ph.D., is the Director of Urban Education & Prevention Research at The Consultation Center and Assistant Professor at the Yale School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry.  Her extensive work in the area of academic achievement for African American and Latino youth has spanned 18 years and has included training and consultation to universities, public school systems and private organizations, curriculum development, program development, implementation, and evaluation. Dr. Ward has worked extensively with high-risk as well as high achieving urban youth and their families in a variety of capacities.  She has designed and evaluated academic enrichment and competence enhancing substance abuse and violence prevention programs in school and community settings.

Barb Nangle, M.A., is the Program Coordinator for The MAAX, as well as for Urban Education, Prevention and Policy Research at The Consultation Center. She has worked for the past nine years on programs that support urban youth. Barb holds a master's degree in sociology from the University of Connecticut. She is dedicated to working toward dismantling of the structures of inequality in our society.

Riana Elyse Anderson, M.A. is a doctoral candidate in the Clinical and Community Psychology program at the University of Virginia and is currently a Predoctoral Fellow at Yale. Riana is a part of the mother's study interview team as well as the evaluation team for the GEAR UP Project. She graduated from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor in 2006 with degrees in Psychology and Political Science, and taught for 2 years with Teach For America in Atlanta. Riana’s program of research investigates how protective familial mechanisms such as parenting, ethnic identity, and racial socialization operate in the face of cultural and contextual risks linked to poverty, discrimination, and residential environment. She is particularly interested in how these factors predict familial functioning and subsequent child psychosocial and academic achievement. Her interest in culturally-specific approaches to successful outcomes has led her to consult on interventions with local community groups and schools, in addition to co-authoring grants for local families and services.

Genevieve M. Coyle, B.S., is a graduate of Sacred Heart University where she received her degree in Sociology with a research concentration. She works for Urban Education, Prevention and Policy Research at The Consultation Center as a research assistant with the Yale-Bridgeport GEAR-UP Partnership. She joined the program in 2012 as an unpaid intern and then returned as a paid research assistant. She continues to be invested in creating equality of education. She is familiar with several computer programs including SPSS, Access, Excel and Remark. She intends to continue her education in the near future.

Eddie Quiles, B.S., is a graduate of the University of Bridgeport where he received his degree in Human Services as well as Criminal Justice program certification. He joined the Urban Education & Policy Research at The Consultation Center in 2009, under the YALE GEAR UP Partnership program as a Cluster Liaison for the Central High School cluster of schools. Over the past 10 years he has provided youth development, career counseling, and academic intervention opportunities among others to youth and families in the city of Bridgeport and surrounding areas as well as the Bridgeport School District. His proficiencies extend to the areas of program development, implementation, and administration.

Joanne Richardson, B.S., holds a bachelor degree from Southern Connecticut State University. She is well connected in the community and volunteers at various local organizations that are dedicated to benefit youth of today and the leaders of tomorrow. She has filled various roles at The Consultation Center for over 20 years, including that of the procurement and facilities manager. Her skill at forging relationships, negotiating and event planning all serve her well in her role as GEAR UP Partnership Coordinator.

Patricia Simon, Ph.D., is an Associate Research Scientist at Yale University School of Medicine. She earned her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Dr. Simon’s research aims to prevent substance use and high school dropout among racial minority and low-income adolescents. In support of these aims, Dr. Simon has pursued two research projects. In the first project, Dr. Simon is applying a socio-ecological framework to identify neighborhood-, peer-, family-, and individual-level predictors of electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use. In the second project, Dr. Simon is examining the use of motivational interviewing to promote academic achievement. Dr. Simon’s research has been supported by several competitive research fellowships, including the prestigious Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Predoctoral Fellowship.

Christine M. Steeger, Ph.D., earned her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Notre Dame. She is a postdoctoral research fellow and her research interests include parenting, stress, risk and protective factors in development, and prevention of adolescent problem behaviors (e.g., aggression, delinquency, substance abuse). Currently, she is working with mothers and adolescents to better understand their stress experiences, coping strategies, social supports, and how these experiences affect behavioral and health outcomes. This research will inform development of family-based interventions to increase adaptive functioning for GEAR UP families.

Michael J. Strambler, Ph.D., is an Associate Research Scientist at Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry. He earned his doctoral degree in Clinical and Community Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Strambler's research interests concern understanding and addressing achievement disparities, especially among ethnic minority and at-risk youth. He has a particular interest in how social environments and the dynamics that occur within them play a role in academic underperformance and how this problem can be addressed by school interventions and school reform efforts. His experience in applied research, program evaluation, and program design in these areas has spanned from elementary school to high school. Dr. Strambler's research has been published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, Child Development, and American Psychologist, as well as The Handbook of Race, Racism and the Developing Child.

Katerina Vlahos, B.S., is a Research Assistant and received her degree from Sacred Heart University with a concentration in Psychology. She is interested in the coupled effects of maternal support and enriched environment on children’s academic success as well as the effects of maternal stress on parenting.