From raising literacy rates in vulnerable communities, to strengthening democratic and civic engagement, to combating the effects of racism on mental health and well-being, University of Maryland College of Education faculty are leaders in addressing humanity’s grand challenges and shaping the future of our community, nation and world. On February 16, the university recognized their impactful work when it awarded 11 of its 50 Grand Challenges Grants to 31 faculty from across the College of Education, including in the Department of Counseling, Higher Education and Special Education (CHSE); Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology (HDQM); Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership (TLPL); Center for Educational Innovation and Improvement (CEii); and Office of the Dean. Education faculty received Grand Challenges Grants in all four categories: one Institutional Grant, four Impact Awards, four Team Project Grants and two Individual Project Grants.
First announced in April 2022, the Grand Challenges Grants Program is the largest and most comprehensive program of its type in the university’s history. It reflects an institution-wide commitment to tackling critical societal issues ranging from educational disparities, to racial and social injustice, to threats to democracy, to climate change. The grants total more than $30 million in institutional investments in programs, initiatives and projects that confront these urgent challenges. The university reviewed 135 submissions and chose recipients of 3 Institutional Grants (up to $1 million per year for three years), 6 Impact Awards (up to $250,000 per year for two years), 16 Team Project Grants (up to $500,000 per year for three years) and 25 Individual Project Grants (up to $50,000 per year for three years). A total of 185 faculty from all 12 of the university’s schools and colleges are participating in the Grand Challenges Grants Program.
“I am very proud of our faculty in the College of Education and the inspiring work they do to take on grand challenges,” said Kimberly Griffin, dean of the College of Education. “Our scholarship is fundamental to confronting many of the challenges we face in schools and society, and Education faculty are informing conversations and actions needed to address critical issues. I'm excited that the Grand Challenges Grants will boost their groundbreaking work.”
The College of Education has received the following Grand Challenges Grants:
Maryland Initiative for Literacy & Equity (MILE): This initiative aims to combat persistent illiteracy in Maryland and the surrounding region, especially among marginalized populations, through research, education, professional development and community and policy outreach. The initiative intends to break down silos by bringing together brain and behavioral researchers, teachers, speech pathologists, librarians, policymakers and community members.
- Donald Bolger, associate professor, HDQM (Principal Investigator)
- Ayanna Baccus, associate clinical professor, TLPL
- Jason Chow, associate professor, CHSE
- Susan De La Paz, professor, CHSE
- Drew Fagan, associate clinical professor, TLPL
- Veronica Kang, associate professor, CHSE
- Jeff MacSwan, professor, TLPL
- Melinda Martin-Beltran, associate professor, TLPL
- Maggie Peterson, assistant clinical professor, TLPL
- Kellie Rolstad, associate professor, TLPL
- Rachel Romeo, assistant professor, HDQM
- Ana Taboada Barber, professor, CHSE, and associate dean for research, innovation and partnerships
- Ebony Terrell Shockley, executive director of educator preparation, TLPL
- Christy Tirrell-Corbin, executive director of the Center for Early Childhood Education and Intervention, HDQM
- Jennifer Turner, associate professor, TLPL
- Jade Wexler, associate professor, CHSE
The College of Education will lead this project and work alongside colleagues from the University of Maryland College of Arts and Humanities, College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, College of Information Studies, and School of Public Policy, as well as colleagues from Morgan State University.
Maryland Democracy Initiative: This initiative strives to strengthen democracy by expanding research on civic engagement and voter trends, offering innovative teaching and learning opportunities for educators and hosting events to promote democratic participation.
- Lena Morreale Scott, director of the Civic Education & Engagement Initiative, Office of the Dean (Principal Investigator)
- Doug Lombardi, associate professor, HDQM
- Sarah McGrew, assistant professor, TLPL
- Lucas Payne Butler, associate professor, HDQM
The College of Education will lead this project and work alongside colleagues from the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Philip Merrill College of Journalism and School of Public Policy.
Values-Centered Artificial Intelligence: This project will focus on developing artificial intelligence tools, theories and practices that align with community needs, ethics and values such as human rights, justice and dignity.
- Jing Liu, assistant professor, TLPL
This project is led by Hal Daumé III of the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences and includes colleagues from the College of Arts and Humanities; Robert H. Smith School of Business; College of Behavioral and Social Sciences; College of Information Studies; Philip Merrill College of Journalism; School of Public Health; and College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences.
Maryland Initiative for Digital Accessibility: This initiative aims to ensure that individuals with disabilities are engaged in technology design research from the beginning of the process so that digital technology–including in education, health, employment, commerce and civic engagement–is accessible to all.
- Yewon Lee, assistant clinical professor, CHSE
- David Weintrop, assistant professor, TLPL
- Gulnoza Yakubova, assistant professor, CHSE
This project is led by Jonathan Lazar of the College of Information Studies and includes colleagues from the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences; Division of Information Technology; School of Public Health; A. James Clark School of Engineering; College of Arts and Humanities; College of Behavioral and Social Sciences; University Libraries; University Career Center; and College of Information Studies.
Pandemic Readiness Initiative (PRI): This project integrates a broad array of social and behavioral sciences to learn from COVID-19 and other disasters to better prepare for future public health emergencies.
- Sarah McGrew, assistant professor, TLPL
This project is led by Cynthia Baur of the School of Public Health and Brooke Fisher of the College of Arts and Humanities, and includes colleagues from the School of Public Health; College of Arts and Humanities; College of Behavioral and Social Sciences; College of Education; Philip Merrill College of Journalism; and College of Information Studies.
Team Project Grants:
Using Machine Learning to Measure and Improve Equity in K-12 Mathematics Classrooms: This study seeks to help educators teach more equitably and reduce racial and ethnic achievement gaps in math. Researchers use machine learning techniques to provide teachers with more frequent, timely and unbiased feedback on their teaching practices than a human observer can deliver.
- Jing Liu, assistant professor, TLPL (Principal Investigator)
The College of Education will lead this project and work with colleagues from the A. James Clark School of Engineering and College of Information Studies.
Racial and Social Justice Research-Practice Partnership Collaborative: This new collaborative addresses racial and social injustice in education through research-practice partnerships between University of Maryland faculty and students and educators in local schools.
- Christine M. Neumerski, faculty specialist, CEii (Principal Investigator)
- Segun Eubanks, director, CEii
- Jean Snell, senior faculty specialist, CEii
The College of Education will lead this project and work with colleagues from the School of Public Policy.
Encuentros: A University-Community Partnership to Mitigate the Mental Health Crisis for Latino Immigrant Youth: This community-driven project works to address mental health issues and increase well-being among low-income Latino immigrant youth in Maryland facing impacts from racism, discrimination and trauma. It will ultimately scale up to a nationwide program.
- Sophia Rodriguez, assistant professor, TLPL
This project is led by the School of Public Health and the College of Education, in partnership with Identity, a local youth development organization.
Anti-Black Racism Initiative: This initiative pursues the goal of establishing the University of Maryland as a leader in combating anti-Black racism by fostering cross-departmental faculty-student research and hosting workshops, symposia and networking events for the campus and surrounding community.
- Kimberly Griffin, dean of the College of Education; professor, CHSE
This project is led by Jeanette Snider from the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences and includes colleagues from the College of Arts and Humanities, School of Public Health, and College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.
Individual Project Grants:
An Innovative Intervention to Help Asian American Families Cope with Racism and Related Mental Health Difficulties: This eight-session, culturally sensitive intervention helps Asian American families talk about racism, discrimination and associated mental health issues and learn positive parenting practices and youth coping strategies.
- Cixin Wang, associate professor, CHSE
How Does Statistical Learning Interact with Socioeconomic Status to Shape Literacy Development?: This project looks at whether statistical learning, or the ability to detect statistical regularities from the environment, might moderate the relationship between children’s socioeconomic status and literacy development.
- Min Wang, professor, HDQM
Read more about all of the Grand Challenges Grant winners.