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Faculty and Staff Grants from September 2022

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Matt Meyer



Announcement  •
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Congratulations to the following faculty and staff members who received grants and awards in September 2022:

Elaine Belansky, director at Center for Rural Health and Education

Elaine Belansky


  • Grant from the Caring for Colorado Foundation
  • Project abstract: Our country is facing an unprecedented mental health crisis, and Colorado is no exception. These concerns are particularly acute for communities of color, communities in poverty, and rural populations. In the past two years, this team has raised awareness among school leaders and educators on best practices related to strengthening family school partnerships and improving staff and youth mental health along the three MTSS (Multi-Tiered System of Supports) tiers. Now, they’re turning awareness into equity-driven action with a proposal for a five-year plan to support 31 school districts in Colorado (14 in the San Luis Valley and 17 in southeast Colorado) in implementing five equity-driven strategies to promote mental health for youth and staff.


Rashida Banerjee, faculty at Morgridge College of Education

  • Grant from Yale University (subaward from the Institute of Education Sciences)
  • Project abstract: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of Preschool RULER, a social-emotional skills intervention developed with funding from IES. Developing strong social and emotional skills in early childhood is foundational for social and academic success. Researchers will implement the intervention and investigate the impact of Preschool RULER on children's academic and social emotional skills as well as on outcomes at the teacher/classroom and school leader/school levels . Findings will provide evidence as to the efficacy of Preschool RULER and move the field toward a better understanding of high-quality early childhood interventions that promote school readiness.


Amy Roberts and Suzanne Delap, staff at the Butler Institute for Families

  • Grant from Denver Preschool Program
  • Project abstract: The Denver Preschool Program (DPP) uses evidence-based research to provide evidence on and answers to what drives high-quality, accessible and equitable preschool for Denver children. The Butler Institute and partner organizations propose to conduct the DPP Program Evaluation to help DPP understand the effectiveness and implementation fidelity of its overall operations, as well as a workforce study to help assess Colorado's early childhood education workforce.


Anthony Fulginiti, faculty at Graduate School of Social Work

Anthony Fulginiti


  • Grant from the University of Missouri
  • Project abstract: Youth experiencing homelessness (YEH) are especially vulnerable to violence, including firearm-involved violence. However, little research has focused on firearm risks among YEH; in fact, virtually nothing is known about the individual, social network, and neighborhood characteristics that may be associated with these risks. This study will provide a much-needed comprehensive understanding of firearm violence among YEH and also inform interventions to reduce firearm violence among YEH and others impacted by firearm violence among this vulnerable population.


Ashley Brock-Baca, staff at Butler Institute for Families

  • Grant from the City and County of Denver
  • Project abstract: Three agencies—the Butler Institute for Families at the University of Denver, the Mental Health Center of Denver, and the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse & Neglect at the University of Colorado, will collaboratively develop and pilot a youth and family resilience program. The program will be co-created with the community in northeast Denver and will focus on BIPOC youth and their families.


Elysia Clemens, deputy director at the Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab

  • Grant from the Colorado Department of Human Services
  • Project abstract: The purpose of this project is to leverage administrative data across systems to create a more comprehensive description of the poverty-related characteristics and associated disproportionality in child welfare involvement. This information will used to inform state-level strategy for policy and practice improvements as well as  grantee goals, activities, and performance management.


Charmaine Brittain, staff at the Butler Institute for Families

  • Grant from the Colorado Department of Human Services
  • Project abstract: Butler proposes to build on our last five years of successful collaboration with the Children's Justice Act (CJA) Task Force to offer multidisciplinary learning and relationship-building opportunities in a variety of modalities that advance CJA goals and task force recommendations and support improved outcomes in Colorado.


Alissa Rausch, faculty at the Morgridge College of Education

  • Grant from the Colorado Department of Early Childhood
  • Project abstract: This project includes ongoing e-learning module development and one meeting with Office of Early Childhood staff to review progress. The DU team shall analyze existing data and collect new data (as appropriate) to understand the scope of coaching supports and existing PDIS supports for coaches and providers implementing inclusion in childcare settings.


Kristin Klopfenstein, director at the Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab

  • Grant from the Child Protection Ombudsman of Colorado
  • Project abstract: The purpose of this project is to support the Timothy Montoya Task Force to Prevent Children from Running Away from Out-of-Home Placement, established in HB 22-1375. The task force was established to analyze the root causes of why children run away from out-of-home placement; develop a consistent, prompt, and effective response to recover missing children; and address the safety and well-being of a child upon his or her return to out-of-home placement. The Colorado Lab will conduct focus groups with children in out-of-home placement and young adults under 22 who have aged out of the child protection system.


Sarah Watamura, faculty at the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Grant from the Colorado Department of Early Childhood
  • Project abstract: This project aims to intentionally increase the number of certified Seedlings facilitators in Colorado. Seedlings is a parent curriculum that focuses on healthy child development and teaches families ways to protect their children against early adversity and toxic stress. This activity will support previously certified Seedling facilitators by offering both a refresher training as well as a monthly community of practice led by the program's creator and experienced practitioners aimed at ensuring effective implementation of the program in communities statewide.


Shannon Sliva, faculty at the Graduate School of Social Work

Shannon Sliva


  • Grant from the University of Vermont
  • Project abstract: This grant will support the Restorative Justice Research Community (RJRC) in advancing three project initiatives: 1) developing a research agenda on restorative justice in the context of the U.S. criminal legal system, 2) supporting research methods training and curriculum development, and 3) launching a community-based restorative justice research network (CBRN).


Christopher Coleman, faculty at the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts
  • Project abstract: To build communities and support emerging contributors across open-source tools for the arts, the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (COSA) will lead a three-day event in Denver that will bring together a diverse national group of 30–50 digital artists who are open-source contributors. This will be the first such conference held in the U.S. and a first step in helping the ecosystem of open-source creative tools become more interconnected to share resources and labor.


Robyn Thomas Pitts, faculty at the Morgridge College of Education

  • Grant from the Colorado Department of Education
  • Project abstract: Project Aware has identified a gap in research on the pathways and decision processes that lead people to pursue and remain in school-based mental health positions (including school psychologists, school social workers, school counselors, and school-based mental health specialists). The planned workforce inquiry will use survey and focus group data to explore and elaborate on the needs of school-based mental health professionals and yield best practices for provider recruitment and retention in school districts throughout Colorado.


Nadia Kako, graduate student at College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Grant from the University of Pennsylvania
  • Project abstract: Many mental health treatments are predicated on the belief that emotions are mediated by cognition and, thus, changing maladaptive cognitions can reduce mental health symptoms. It is unclear whether similar intervention strategies for maladaptive cognitions or emotional appraisals can be applied to primal therapy. This project will test the effects of two distinct, single-time-point interventions on a sample that endorses primal therapy associated with anxiety and the interventions' effects on clinical and affective outcomes.


Erin Flynn and Kimberly Bender, staff and faculty at the Graduate School of Social Work

  • Grant from the Human Animal Bond Research Institute
  • Project abstract: Restricted

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