About Us

Principal Investigators

Carlos Hipolito

Dr. Carlos Hipolito-Delgado is an Associate Professor in Counseling at the University of Colorado Denver. His research focuses on ethnic identity development, the internalization of racism, and sociopolitical development of student of color in K-16 contexts.  His work also focuses on improving the cultural competence of education professionals—particularly school counselors. Dr. Hipolito-Delgado has been co-PI on grants from the Spencer Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, and the American Educational Research Association—all focusing on the sociopolitical development and civic engagement of youth. Through this grant work he has also been involved in developing assessments on the quality of youth civic performances and the impact of civics curriculum on academic engagement, civic engagement, and sociopolitical development. Dr. Hipolito-Delgado has also published on the use of empowerment and sociopolitical development to foster academic engagement and promote educational reform for marginalized communities. He is also past chair of the Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development and past chair of the American Counseling Association Foundation.

Ben Kirshner

Dr. Ben Kirshner believes that education systems will be more just and equitable when young people experiencing marginalization and oppression are invited to participate in improving their public schools—by analyzing root causes, designing learning environments, and participating in policy decisions. He is a Professor of Education at the University of Colorado Boulder and Faculty Director of CU Engage: Center for Community-Based Learning and Research. His experiences working with young people at a community center in San Francisco’s Mission District motivated him to study educational equity and design social justice learning environments. In his current work with CU Engage Ben seeks to develop and sustain university-community research partnerships that address persistent public challenges and promote education justice. In his research Ben collaboratively designs and studies learning environments that support youth voice, activism, and political participation. Projects include design-based research in action civics classrooms, critical participatory action research, and ethnographies of community-based youth organizing groups. His 2015 book, Youth Activism in an Era of Education Inequality, received the social policy award for best authored book from the Society of Research on Adolescence.

Shelley Zion

Dr. Shelley Zion leads the Center for Access, Success, & Equity at Rowan University, partnering with scholars and school systems to work towards equity.  She seeks to understand how institutions, social systems and individual experiences create and sustain systems of power and privilege that ensure access for some while excluding others. Her research is situated within a framework of sociopolitical development, informed by a range of critical theoretical perspectives, and advanced by an understanding of the nature of both individual and systemic change. This framework requires that to impact a transformation of the current public education and other social systems towards goals of equity and social justice, we must work to disrupt dominant ideologies by creating spaces in which people begin to develop a critical understanding of the cultural, political, economic, and other institutional forces that perpetuate systems of privilege and oppression. Practically, this translates to a focus on teaching for social justice-preparing educators, students, and community members to be active participants in ending oppression through empowerment and organizing. She is also on the board of the Philadelphia Student Union, and the Camden Promise Neighborhood Leadership Team.

Research Team

Erik Dutilly

Erik Dutilly is a graduate student in the School of Education at the University of Colorado-Boulder, Erik is interested in theoretical and practical issues related to evaluation and assessment. His strong feelings about assessment are derived from the moral philosophical view that evaluations should fairly and accurately represent the activities of the students assessed. To assign students or participants unmerited or undeserved scores is to commit an injustice. Erik was strongly involved in the quantitative calibration of the MYPA tool and helped to design a semi-automated system for assessing student groups that competed for placements and prizes using the MYPA tool.

Mónica González

Mónica González is a doctoral candidate in Literacy Studies at CU Boulder. González’s work as an activist-scholar centralizes on collaborating with young people to challenge dominant notions of language, literacy, and knowledge production more broadly. Her dissertation research primarily focuses on Youth Participatory Action Research with immigrant youth people living in a migrant housing community. While her research in collaboration with young people focuses on issues facing the community and implications for social change, her analysis also seeks to recognize and understand the ways in which young people disrupt colonial narratives about themselves, their families, and community.

Daniela Kruel DiGiacomo

Dr. Daniela Kruel DiGiacomo is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California Riverside’s Graduate School of Education, and a research associate for the Civic Engagement Research Group. Daniela received her PhD in Learning Sciences and Human Development from the University of Colorado Boulder. As a community- and design-based researcher, Daniela’s work investigates how to design for more equitable teaching and learning relationships between adults and young people across various lines of difference.

Ginnie Logan

Ginnie Logan is a student in Learning Sciences and Human Development at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Her research interests center on issues of youth civic identity development as it relates to race, gender, and national identity. Specifically, Ginnie utilizes critical theoretical and methodological lenses to explore how national context and minoritized identities inform conceptions of civic engagement, identity, and activism for Black girls in the US, Cuba, and South Africa. Through her scholarship, Ginnie is committed to developing models of praxis that result in emancipatory outcomes for Black girls and other minoritized youth. Before returning to graduate school, Ginnie was the director of an educational non-profit, an assistant principal, a teacher trainer, and high school teacher.

Deirdre Morgenthaler

Dr. Deirdre Morgenthaler is a web developer with professional expertise in media literacy and over 15 years of experience designing, implementing, marketing, and managing education projects for institutions of higher education, k-12 education,  and non-profits. She provides expertise in many aspects of communication, marketing, and instructional design in higher education. She assists the MYPA project with the creation and maintenance of this website and the learning resources on these pages. She holds a master’s degree in communication and a doctorate in education from the University of Colorado Denver.

Nina Nagib

Nina Nagib is a second-year Doctoral student in Education at Rowan University and currently part of a team there implementing student voice YPAR projects in secondary schools in southern New Jersey. Her research interests center around disrupting (school-based) pathways from trauma to confinement for adolescent girls of color through the development of student voice and other protective factors. Nina is also a former school counselor and the founder of RAGOH, a school-based program focused on engaging girls of color in fighting sex trafficking in their own communities and advocating for girls’ access to education globally.

Vanessa Roberts

Vanessa Roberts, MA, Doctoral Candidate of Sociology at the University of Colorado – Boulder. Vanessa is a community-based researcher and facilitator who specializes in race & ethnicity, youth development, and cultural sociology, with a background in performance studies. Her dissertation research aims to extend the sociological understanding of the roles youth play in reducing social inequality, how youth and adults make sense of youth as change-agents, and the processes and factors that may support the development of youth into agents of social change. Her goal is to embark on a career fusing community-based research with innovative critical pedagogy to generate new knowledge and processes that make education and social change personal, accessible and sustainable. In 2016, Vanessa joined the MYPA team to assist with a newly formed research-practice partnership with Project VOYCE (PV) and participated in the curriculum development and delivery efforts focused on integrating the MYPA rubric into PV’s summer leadership academy. Currently she is involved in the ongoing collaborative work with the Student Voice Board at Denver Public Schools (5280) and other project partners, helping to facilitate meetings and deliver training to students and coaches.

Project Partners

Project VOYCE (PV) is a community-based organization founded in 2006 in Denver, Colorado. Each school year PV serves approximately 40-50 youth (between 14-25 years-old) living in poverty (defined by the staff members as qualifying for free or reduced lunch at school), who are also primarily persons of color representing a range of racial and ethnic backgrounds. PV states they target constituents that experience ageism, racism, and classism, and that their mission is to “develop future leaders in underrepresented communities by training and employing youth to work on real life school and community challenges” (www.projectvoyce.org).  The goals of PV are: 1) to provide economic opportunities to underserved youth that offer career paths and strong earning potential, to create opportunities to affect systemic change, and to provide support and flexibility to advance education; 2) to increase civic engagement and civic health in underserved communities; and 3) to highlight education as a tool for increasing lifetime earning potential and disrupting cycles of poverty.

In South Jersey, the Center for Access, Success, & Equity (CASE) at Rowan University is partnering with school districts who are committed to developing long term strategic plans for addressing inequity in their schools- and a key part of this work is the inclusion of students voices in the collection of data, development of the plans, and ongoing decision making at the school/district level.  Currently, we are working with Camden City School District, Logan Township School District, and Delsea Regional School District to train students as researchers and leaders of this equity work.

Student Voice and Leadership (SVL) is a Denver Public Schools (DPS) initiative that empowers student leaders to use their core strengths in the service of transforming themselves, their schools, and their communities for the better. DPS works toward the vision of Every Child Succeeds. Research has demonstrated that through enhanced student voice, students achieve greater academic success and increase their engagement to strengthen their school community. To date, DPS has invested in a number of priority initiatives to increase student voice and leadership opportunities for high school students including The Student Board of Education (SBOE), Challenge 5280, Young African American Latinx Leaders (YAALL) and other independent opportunities to exercise student voice and leadership. We partner with the Critical Civic Inquiry Group to implement the Measurement of Youth Policy Arguments (MYPA) curriculum to support our student leaders in 1) identifying a problem in their school community that they want to address 2)identifying the root cause to that problem 3) developing a policy solution to address the issue 4) launching a campaign to implement the policy within their school. Annually, the Student Voice and Leadership initiative serves 250 students from over twenty high schools across the district. The SVL website will go live in March 2018 (www.studentvoice-d.dpsk12.org) Please check out the following video Challenge 5280.