Detroit Urban League, U-M seek to improve lives of African Americans

January 8, 2007

ANN ARBOR—The University of Michigan School of Social Work will team up with the Detroit Urban League to conduct ongoing research and advise public policy-makers on ways to improve the lives of African Americans.

This new collaborative effort, the Detroit Urban League/University of Michigan Urban Research Series, will focus on issues relevant to the mental, physical, social and economic well-being of African Americans, says Paula Allen-Meares, dean of the U-M School of Social Work.

“The primary objective is to study and present research findings that will be utilized by public policy-makers, social service agencies, governmental agencies and researchers interested in the conditions of African Americans,” she says. “We are very excited about this partnership and its possibilities.”

According to Jacqueline Morrison, senior vice president of the Detroit Urban League, the collaboration should serve as a community service model for community-based organizations and universities.

“We complement each other very well,” she says. “While we’re experts in theservice side and in advocacy and in organizing people, the University’s strength is in research and academic analysis. So together, we see ourselves as being able to have an impact and, hopefully, make life better for everybody in the long run.”

The formal partnership grew out of a research collaboration last year between the Detroit Urban League and John Wallace, assistant professor of social work, who conducted a study on illegal sales of tobacco products to Detroit-area teens.

“The collaboration began through a series of conversations between myself and Dr. Amos Aduroja, former director of the department of health and substance abuse at the Urban League,” Wallace says. “As a result of these conversations, we agreed upon the need for two things—an ongoing action-research program that focused on issues directly relevant to the concerns of African Americans and a publication that would disseminate the findings of the research to a wider audience than that typically reached by scholarly books and scientific journals.”