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Updated 11:50 AM October 25, 2007




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National Poverty Center gets three-year renewal

The National Poverty Center at U-M has been awarded a federal cooperative research agreement based on a national competition that extends its research, training and dissemination activities through 2010.

The NPC, which began its work in 2002 under a previous federal award, is co-directed by Rebecca Blank, the Henry Carter Adams Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Economics, and Sheldon Danziger, the Henry J. Meyer Distinguished University Professor of Public Policy.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will provide $1.9 million over the next three years. The center — at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy — conducts research on issues related to economic self-sufficiency and the well-being of families and children; the healthy transition to adulthood; the role of faith and religiosity in families; non-marital child-bearing and teen pregnancy; and the safety, stability and healthy development of children.

"We're very proud that the National Poverty Center will continue to have its home at the Ford School," says Susan Collins, the Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of Public Policy. "Our interdisciplinary faculty connections, commitment to mentoring younger scholars and historic strength in social welfare policy research helped the NPC achieve so much over the past five years."

NPC is recognized internationally for its research on the causes and consequences of poverty and the evaluation of anti-poverty policies. It sponsors research and conferences, as well as mentors and trains the next generation of poverty scholars. NPC activities are carried out by a multi-disciplinary team of U-M faculty members, as well as scholars from other universities nationwide.

"The support provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services enables scholars and policymakers from across the country to contribute to this important work," Provost Teresa Sullivan says.

The center has worked with researchers nationwide to deepen the understanding of issues such as changing trends in marriage and fertility, the impact of labor market changes on less-skilled workers, and the interactions that low-income families have with the banking and loan industries, Blank says.

"This research has, in turn, led to a richer policy discussion, from ways to increase savings among low-income families, to ways to better assist single mothers who have difficulty staying employed," says Blank, who this year is a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Some of the center's accomplishments include:

• Producing four books based on NPC conferences: one on how low-wage workers were affected by economic changes and government policies; another on the health effects of social policies that are not primarily targeted on health-related issues; a forthcoming volume on issues related to the high poverty rates of minorities; and an upcoming volume on the role of assets in the lives of the poor;

• Hosting mentoring workshops and summer institutes in which almost 100 emerging scholars have participated and learned to access Census data and longitudinal data sets and utilize appropriate statistical methodologies, and to study prominent recent contributions to poverty research;

• Awarding grants that supported the research of more than 60 scholars at U-M and other universities; and

• Creating and maintaining a widely used Web site that contains working papers, policy briefs, syllabi for teachers and students, useful facts about poverty trends, videos of past seminars, and announcements about ongoing events, projects and funding opportunities.

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