News Details

DeMarcus Jenkins to explore links between housing policies and school integration and desegregation

DeMarcus Jenkins sits at a table in a classroom, leaning forward and smiling

Authored by: Juliana Rosati

Photography by: Krista Patton

Faculty & Research


Assistant Professor DeMarcus A. Jenkins of Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) will serve as co-principal investigator of a $442,340 grant from the American Institutes for Research (AIR) Equity Initiative in the Behavioral Sciences. The award was granted for the project “Moving in Motown: Examining Promise of Integrated Neighborhoods and Schools Through Detroit’s Choice Neighborhood Initiative” as a part of AIR’s School Integration and Equity 2.0: Tools and Strategies Grant Competition.

The research team is led by Huriya Jabbar, University of Southern California, and also includes co-principal investigators Kara Finnigan, University of Michigan, and Sarah Winchell Lenhoff, Wayne State University. The team will study the implementation of the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI) in the Detroit neighborhood of Corktown and its impact on school diversity and community integration.

The project intersects with Dr. Jenkins’s interest in the relationship between education reform and urban development, particularly housing policies. Broadly, Dr. Jenkins’s work investigates the intersection of race, urban space, and policy and its implications for educational equity and justice. His program of research centers on important policy- and practice-relevant issues concerning Black and other vulnerable populations in relation to education, housing, and criminal/juvenile justice.

“Although it is well understood that where young people live has a profound impact on their access to educational opportunities, there is a need for more evidence that can inform policies on neighborhood development and educational outcomes,” says Dr. Jenkins. “Our project is unique in that it explores the entire policy ecosystem that consists of the interacting social processes and the dynamics of power and politics in the implementation of a national neighborhood initiative.”

The study aims to build on the idea that “housing policy is education policy,” by examining how various stakeholders collaborate throughout the implementation of the CNI. The team will explore CNI implementation with an eye toward building theories and best practices on how such federal programs “can transform and integrate neighborhoods and schools.”

The study is set to begin in summer 2024 and conclude in summer 2025, when the team plans to present their final findings to Corktown residents, city officials, and district staff.

“My team and I are really excited to do this research in Detroit, a city with so much Black history and culture — a city with an appetite for change,” Dr. Jenkins adds.

Read more from USC Rossier.