In addition to long-term initiatives, the following are recent additions to HCRC's research partnerships.
HCRC Statement on COVID-19, Racism, and Economic Turmoil in 2020
The tragic events of 2020 have changed society forever. Since March over 210,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 with 7.4 million people infected. By comparison, the influenza pandemic of 1968 over its 3-year span was responsible for 100,000 U.S. deaths. COVID-19 is now the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S. As a result of the breathtaking speed at which the coronavirus pandemic has spread, most segments of economic activity shut down for extended periods of time, and this led to depression-era increases in unemployment.
The pandemic that rages on has further exposed and exacerbated fundamental racial inequalities at all levels of society that must be wiped out with urgency. The devastating effects of structural racism are not only observed in rates of COVID-19 prevalence, hospitalization, and death among Black Americans that are triple those of Whites, but in a series of brutal killings by police of unarmed people of color. The nationwide protests against this brutality and calls for major criminal justice and social reforms have had a force not seen since the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
Although pandemics, racism, and economic recessions are not new, their combined effects plus the nationwide shutdown of workplaces, schools, and community centers has led to unprecedented needs. As with other sectors, science and disciplinary inquiry must change. Human capital research and social programs and policies must do better as well to ensure that the quality and effectiveness of investments increase, that we reassess and reflect upon past advances and shortcomings, and restructure accordingly.
Center Vision and Key Principles
The Human Capital Research Collaborative (HCRC) was founded in 2006 on the principle of improving the lives of young people and their families and communities through creating, assessing, and disseminating knowledge on the most effective social programs and policies for enhancing health and wellbeing. Working in partnership with families, schools, and community partners, scaling effective programs so that all young people can flourish and achieve their goals also is a fundamental principle. This can only happen if all forms racism, inequality, and barriers to equal opportunity end. If our perspectives and priorities moving forward are guided by tradition and inquiry that emphasizes the individual over higher and broader levels, we will surely fail to achieve the hoped for and necessary changes.
A macro-ecological orientation is essential for true progress from our current social and economic turmoil. This means high priority must be for scientific inquiry dedicated to research, intervention, and dissemination at the family, school-community, organizational, institutional, socio-cultural, and economic systems levels in enhancing individual children’s well-being.
The mission of HCRC is to identify, develop, evaluate, and disseminate effective programs and policies for improving well-being and eliminating educational and health disparities. This is of special importance for underserved populations, including people of color, those growing up and living in poverty, those disenfranchised by historic inequality racism, and segregation, and who otherwise have faced persistent barriers to opportunity. HCRC strives to accomplish this mission through critical analysis of ideas and evidence, teaching, and outreach that is without boundaries. This means boundless within and outside the university as well as across disciplines and service sectors. Given the events of 2020, these goals take on new meanings, and are of critical importance.
Society is not only segregated by race, ethnicity, and income but by fragmentation in specializations that lead to myopia in addressing social problems. Such myopia occurs in all organizational systems and service sectors. We believe this stifles innovation and progress. Emphasis on specialization and reductionism especially includes disciplines and departments within higher education in general. To better address growing challenges, HCRC is dedicated to truly interdisciplinary and cross-sector solutions in education, health, and human services that are innovative, effective, and scalable universally.
The science of human capital development in education and early childhood learning, prevention, health promotion, and evaluation research is to ensure that investments in programs, policies and practices work and achieve social benefits that help eradicate inequality, poverty, racism, and all barriers. The development, identification, and implementation of diverse strategies that redress these structural disparities are more important today than ever.
Sustaining early learning gains requires a comprehensive and effective system of services from preschool through the school-age years. This Brief describes the role of two key elements of sustaining gains: aligned curriculum and collaborative leadership. They are part of the Child-Parent Center P-3 school reform model. Metrics for measuring and implementing each of these elements are described and their relationship to student learning gains in Chicago and Saint Paul schools.
HCRC researchers are partnering with Northwestern University on a new phase of the seminal Chicago Longitudinal Study (CLS). Since 1985, the CLS has tracked the development of a group of 1,539 individuals who grew up in urban poverty. Intervention group members attended the Child-Parent Centers (CPC) beginning in preschool and continued participation through 2nd or 3rd grade. The new phase of CLS research, which began in spring 2017, further examines the connection between CPC participation, educational attainment, and physical and mental health outcomes at age 37-39.