Wayne State University College of Education launches new research center

The Wayne State University College of Education recently celebrated the launch of the Detroit Partnership for Education Equity & Research. The mission of the new research center is to produce high-quality research to help improve systems contributing to the academic, behavioral and socioemotional outcomes of students in Detroit.  

Sarah Winchell Lenhoff, the Leonard Kaplan Endowed Professor and an associate professor of educational leadership and policy studies, is founding director of the center. The leadership team also includes Erica Edwards and Ben Pogodzinski, also faculty in educational leadership and policy studies. 

“We are excited to announce the establishment of the Detroit Partnership for Education Equity & Research,” said Boris Baltes, interim dean of the College of Education, senior associate provost of faculty affairs and associate vice president of academic personnel. “Sarah Lenhoff is an outstanding scholar who is committed to ensuring equity and access in education. I am confident that, under her leadership, the center will initiate and advance community-based research that tackles real-world challenges and provides evidence for creating education policy that addresses the needs of all students as well as their families, schools and communities.” 

Lenhoff earned a bachelor’s in English and women’s studies from the University of Georgia and a master’s in teaching with a concentration in adolescent education from Pace University. After teaching in the New York City Public Schools, she was inspired to pursue doctoral studies in educational policy at Michigan State University, where she was a research assistant and field instructor. She served as director of the policy and research division at The Education Trust-Midwest before becoming an assistant professor in the College of Education. During the last six years, her research has focused on student attendance and school choice in Detroit.  

Lenhoff hopes the center will help leaders develop research-informed policies that support students, families, schools and communities. 

“Our goal is to conduct collaborative, community-centered research that can be used to foster positive change and improve the Detroit ecosystem,” she said. “We are grateful for the support of the Skillman Foundation and our ongoing partnerships with the Detroit Public Schools Community District and Every School Day Counts Detroit. We hope additional community organizations, education institutions, city government and other scholars who are interested in supporting Detroit’s young people will partner with us as we seek to improve student success.” 

The Skillman Foundation provided the first-in funding to support the center with a three-year, $821,000 grant. The Detroit Public Schools Community District is a long-time partner on research related to enrollment and attendance, and the Every School Day Counts Detroit coalition is a long-time community partner working on issues related to chronic absenteeism.  

The center’s advisory board members are Meagan Elliott, Ph.D., deputy chief financial officer for the City of Detroit; Alejandra Gomez, education initiatives director for Urban Neighborhood Initiatives; Imani Harris, communications lead at 482Forward; Alycia Meriweather, deputy superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools Community District; and Rev. Larry Simmons, co-founder of Every School Day Counts Detroit.

For more information about the Detroit Partnership for Education Equity & Research, visit DetroitPEER.org.  

Photo caption: Boris Baltes (center), interim dean of the College of Education, celebrated the launch of the Detroit Partnership for Education Equity & Research with the new research center's leadership team and advisory board members (from left to right) Ben Pogodzinski, Erica Edwards, Meagan Elliott, Alejandra Gomez, Sarah Winchell Lenhoff, Rev. Larry Simmons, Alycia Meriweather, and Imani Harris.

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