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School of Education Faculty Member Receives Three New Grants

Ayana Allen-Handy - Drexel University Assistant Professor for EdD in Educational Leadership and Management

November 22, 2022

The new academic year is an exciting one for Ayana Allen-Handy, PhD. The Associate Professor of Urban Education in the School of Education’s Department of Policy, Organization, and Leadership will conduct important research in multiple areas of education as the lead for three new research grant projects.

Here is a summary of each project:

Women in Natural Sciences: A Longitudinal Comparative Case Study of Black Women in STEMM (1995-2015)

PI: Ayana Allen-Handy, PhD
Co-I: Jacqueline Genovesi, PhD
Co-I: Loni Tabb, PhD

Funded by the National Science Foundation’s Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) Program, this study probes the experiences of Black women at a critical phase of their workforce participation when BS/BA credentialed WINS alumnae establish their careers (ages 26-46). Black women make up only 2.5% of the workforce in STEMM-related fields, indicating that they chronically experience stalled professional advancement. Because there are so few longitudinal studies in either formal or informal settings, educators and researchers lack critical insights into why BA/BS credentialed Black women drop out of STEMM careers at high rates upon entering the workforce. The team will conduct a longitudinal comparative case study of outcomes and life trajectories among 20 years of WINS cohorts (1995-2015). Participants include 100 Black WINS alumnae as an intervention group and a matched comparison group of 100 Black women who successfully applied to the WINS program but did not or could not enroll. Measurable life outcomes and life trajectory narratives with maps of experiences from both groups will be studied via a convergent mixed methods design inclusive of quantitative and qualitative analyses. Comparisons of outcomes and trajectories will be made between the study groups. Further, associations between alumnae’s long-term outcomes and how they correlate their WINS experiences with other socio-cultural factors in their lives will be identified. It is anticipated that findings will challenge extant knowledge and pinpoint the most effective characteristics of and appropriate measures for studying lasting impacts of OST STEMM programs for Black women and girls. The project is positioned to contribute substantially to national efforts to increase participation of Black women in STEMM.

Planning: Civic-PG-Track B: Placekeeping: A Co-Designed Model for Intergenerational Co-Housing and Coalition Building in a University-Adjacent Community

PI: Ayana Allen-Handy, PhD
Co-I: Rachel Wenrick
Co-I: Christopher Wright, PhD

Drexel University’s transdisciplinary team, in partnership with an established cross-sector network will address urgent affordable housing needs in the West Philadelphia Promise Zone neighborhood of Mantua, a rapidly gentrifying community that is also one of the nation’s most impoverished. The purpose of this project is to develop, implement, and evaluate the Second Story Collective (2SC) arts-centered model for intergenerational co-housing as an anti-displacement and aging-in-place strategy. The 2SC has the potential to be implemented in similar communities throughout the US, and results from this pilot will serve as a model of sustained community-driven solutions for equitable development, particularly for historically marginalized Black communities. This project is supported by the National Science Foundation’s Civic Innovation Challenge (CIVIC).

Arts Centered Community Action: How Public Arts Programming Strengthens Civic Infrastructure and Promotes Civic Innovation

PI: Ayana Allen-Handy, PhD
Co-I: Rachel Wenrick

This intergenerational community-led participatory action research (CPAR) project examines the potential impact of public arts programming to strengthen civic engagement, civic infrastructure, and to promote community-driven civic innovation in West Philadelphia. The purpose of our study is to critically examine the ways in which a collective of community residents, students, faculty, youth, writers, and artists leverage the arts to solve community-identified issues such as gentrification, displacement, racial injustice, and systemic inequality. Drexel University's School of Education and Writers Room, along with our community partners Mantua Civic Association and ArtistYear, will execute our research and two-fold dissemination action plan to highlight the scholarly interconnections between the arts, civic infrastructure, and civic innovation, as well as to provide tangible products that can be easily disseminated and used as resources to inspire and support youth, community residents, practitioners, policymakers, researchers, artists, and both the public and private sectors. This project is supported with funding from AmeriCorps.

In addition to the new grants, Dr. Allen-Handy also received the 2022 Mid-Career Award from the Critical Examination of Race, Ethnicity, Class, and Gender in Education Special Interest Group (SIG) of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Dr. Allen-Handy joined Drexel’s School of Education in 2015. She is the founder and director of the Justice-oriented Youth (JoY) Education Lab. The lab is comprised of a team of students, faculty, youth, and community researchers who engage in research methods and critical civic praxis with the intent to advance justice in all of its’ forms, particularly education, social, and racial justice.