Fighting poverty: U-M announces new investments in programs

January 17, 2017
Written By:
News Service

A fist in the air with a banner around it that reads "Fighting Poverty," beside a quote from Luke Schaefer.ANN ARBOR—One project involves alerting low-income homeowners about an exemption to reduce their high property taxes. Another effort employs health care workers in neighborhoods to help residents take better care of themselves.

These are among nine projects funded through new grants programs by Poverty Solutions, a new initiative launched by the University of Michigan to prevent and alleviate poverty.

One program supports collaborative community-academic research partnerships, and a second is devoted to getting junior faculty research on poverty off the ground.

Through this work, which involves partnerships with communities and policymakers, researchers from many of U-M’s 19 schools and colleges will begin work this month to test a variety of models to ease the effects of poverty, including:

  • Developing and testing innovative ways to deliver health care services to those most in need
  • Developing new strategies to protect affordable housing in Detroit
  • Understanding rural poverty and identifying funding policies and community-level strategies to address it
  • Creating a computer-based tool to increase long-term employability among underserved job-seekers
  • Measuring the burden of cuts to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits on poverty alleviation institutions
  • Examining the impact of the Earned-Income Tax Credit on housing stability among low-income households
  • Developing a Transportation Security Index to better understand how transportation insecurity impacts poverty and socioeconomic mobility

The collaborative program is co-sponsored by the Detroit Urban Research Center, a partnership among the U-M schools​ of Public Health, Nursing and Social Work; Detroit Health Department; Henry Ford Health System; and nine community-based organizations.

“These programs aim to make a real difference in the lives of struggling families by building knowledge about how to address poverty in a meaningful way,” said H. Luke Shaefer, U-M associate professor of social work and public policy and director of Poverty Solutions. “The focus is on putting knowledge into practice and to build on what works in confronting poverty.”

The combined $200,000 in funding marks the first investment by Poverty Solutions, which engages in interdisciplinary projects that work with communities and partners to tackle poverty from various angles. In addition to these programs, Poverty Solutions will also kick off a new program focused on investigating the economic and social impacts of expanding job opportunities in partnership with U-M’s new Youth Policy Lab, funded by the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL North America).

“A great public university should focus its research investments on important challenges confronting society. Through Poverty Solutions and projects like those launched today, we aim to promote actionable policy that has the potential to lift more American families out of poverty,” said U-M President Mark Schlissel. “This first round of support leverages the academic breadth of the University of Michigan paired with strong community partnerships to make a major difference.”


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