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Anthropology
Project Proposal

The Role of Community-based Organizing in Generating Change

Candice Lowe-Swift (Anthropology)

Project Description

This project builds on prior research conducted on, and with, R.E.A.L. Skills (RS)—a youth empowerment organization that is located in the city of Poughkeepsie. Research activities focus on the sustainability of this community-based, non-profit organization. With an eye towards the question of how this organization has, and might continue to survive, the scholar and I will tighten the design of a research project that will allow us to explore the networks, public polices and practices, programmatic activities, and key contributions of existing participants and alumnae/i to the operation of RS. The research will involve working with youth and adults, and the approach to this research will be collaborative, feminist, and publicly engaged. For these reasons, the scholar should be interested in the intersection of scholarship and activism, and should be outgoing, sensitive to the needs of others, adaptable, willing to take the initiative, and unafraid to be challenged intellectually and emotionally.

Towards the end of the research period, the scholar and I will work together to develop a conceptual map of the actors, activities, policies and services that directly influence the operation of RS. We will use this map as a basis for identifying areas for continued and future research. Ultimately, R.E.A.L. Skills is a case study that can contribute to our understanding of the role that community-based organizations play in influencing personal and social change in low-income communities, and how such organizations might be sustained.  

Anticipated Project Activities

The Ford Scholar will conduct archival research, participant observation at R.E.A.L. Skills, qualitative interviews. They will also transcribe interviews.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

Excellent attention to detail is necessary. Experience doing archival research, conducting interviews, and doing narrative analysis is preferred. The scholar should also be self-motivated, have good organizational skills, and be enthusiastic about working with children and adults. Ideally, this person will have a vested interest in promoting grass-roots change within black and brown communities.

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

The scholar will have an opportunity to continue the work in the form of an independent study, in the Fall of 2017. During the 2017-2018 academic year, the scholar and I can also explore the possibility of sharing our research in the form of a co-written article or semi-public presentations of our research to community stakeholders or scholars invested in publicly engaged research.

Project Location

Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

May 29, 2017

Project End Date

July 21, 2017