Ford School wins NASPAA 2020 Social Equity award

October 4, 2020

The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) has awarded the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy with its 2020 Social Equity Award, which honors a public policy, affairs, or administration program that exemplifies the highest standards in social equity through outstanding contributions in research, teaching, and service. The award recognizes Poverty Solutions, a University of Michigan-wide initiative housed at the Ford School.

“We are honored to be recognized with NASPAA's 2020 Social Equity award,” said Michael S. Barr, dean of the Ford School. “Structural inequality is an urgent challenge, as Black and brown Americans, immigrants, and others in our community continue to face differential outcomes and experiences in education, policing, health and housing, economics and finance, and other vital areas. At the Ford School, we are committed to researching, teaching, and speaking out about structural inequality, and doing the hard work to advance social change.”

Poverty Solutions is designed to be the “first responder” to the data needs and policy priorities of local decision makers working to enhance economic mobility and reduce poverty in communities around the state of Michigan, and building on this work for national impact. The team provides timely and accessible local-level analysis that is responsive to community needs and interests. 

“We start with listening and letting our agenda be driven by the communities we serve. The work is exciting and surprising, and we’re honored by NASPAA’s recognition of this approach,” said H. Luke Shaefer, professor at the Ford School and director of Poverty Solutions. 

Last year alone, Poverty Solutions managed and supported more than 70 research and service projects in communities from northern Michigan to Detroit, and all across the United States. This includes expanding opportunity to summer youth employment programs, increasing access to affordable housing options, providing new research to community stakeholders who want to enhance economic mobility across the Midwest, changing Michigan’s inequitable auto insurance laws, and funding research on U-M’s campus designed to combat racism.

Poverty Solutions also prioritizes student engagement and experiential learning through work and research opportunities, events, coursework, and a student advisory board. 

Launched in 2016, Poverty Solutions builds on the Ford School’s and the University of Michigan’s decades-long legacy of commitment to and strength in social policy and anti-poverty scholarship and teaching. 

The Ford School has been ranked the #1 program in social policy since 2012. The Ford School continues to deepen its expertise in this area through significant investments, including the hiring of renowned sociologist Celeste Watkins-Hayes, who has been named the Jean E. Fairfax Collegiate Professor of Public Policy, and the recent addition of three new professorships to advance social equity and inclusion, made possible by generous gifts from Hal and Carol Kohn and the Kohn Charitable Trust. 

The Ford School will be recognized with the 2020 Social Equity Award at NASPAA’s virtual conference in October.