Urban Studies Program Coordinator Receives Spencer Foundation Grant for Research with Parent and Youth Activists in New York City



March 25, 2021 | Academics, Faculty, Grants, Research, Urban Studies

Molly Makris

Dr. Molly Makris

With Co-Principal Investigators Dr. Mira Debs (Yale University) and Dr. Elise Castillo (Trinity College), Guttman’s Dr. Molly Vollman Makris was awarded a Spencer Foundation COVID-19 Related Research Grant. Their proposal, “New York City School Integration Activists during covid-19,” was one of only 20 to be funded, out of a competitive pool of 1,369 “education research projects that would contribute to understanding the rapid shifts in education in relation to COVID-19.” The team’s research with parent and youth activists in New York City, beginning during the summer of 2020, has potential impacts on policy that are urgent in the context of the “twin pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism.” Along with its “anti-deficit orientation,” the study also met the criterion of “aim[ing] to understand and disrupt the reproduction and deepening of educational inequality caused by the COVID-19 crisis.” In Dr. Makris’ important work, which resonates with Guttman’s institutional dedication to equity, the Spencer Foundation “recognized that in times of great disruption and change, there are opportunities to remake and imagine new forms of equitable education.”

Dr. Makris, Associate Professor and Program Coordinator of Urban Studies, holds a Ph.D. in Urban Systems, with concentrations in Urban Educational Policy and the Urban Environment. Dr. Makris began her career as a social studies teacher in a public high school in New York City, later working for a nonprofit youth development organization. Her current areas of research are urban education reform charter schools, school segregation, privatization of public space, and gentrification. Dr. Makris won the American Educational Studies Association (AESA) Critics’ Choice Book Award and the New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance Book Award in 2016 for her first book, Public Housing and School Choice in a Gentrified City: Youth Experiences of Uneven Opportunity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). Her newest book, Gentrification Down the Shore (Rutgers University Press), co-authored with fellow Guttman faculty Dr. Mary Gatta, was released in 2020. Her articles have appeared in the Peabody Journal of Education, Journal of Urban Affairs, Journal of Cultural Geography, and Journal of Education Policy. Dr. Makris’ research and teaching have been featured in The Takeaway, The 74 Million, The Progressive, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The New York Daily News, and Chalkbeat, to name a few.