Journal of Education & Social Policy

ISSN 2375-0782 (Print) 2375-0790 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/jesp

Civic Infrastructure for College Access: A Participatory Action Research Study
Carol Cutler White, MPA, Ph.D

Using Participatory Action Research (PAR), the purpose of this study was to establish college access civic infrastructure in a high poverty Southern U.S. city with a long-term goal to increase educational attainment. Raising educational attainment has potential to alleviate poverty and contributes to better health, stronger communities, and to improved civic engagement. The multi-year study engaged co-researchers in systematic inquiry through photo voice, Q Methodology, focus groups, action planning, program implementation, and fund development for sustainability. The action planning process established a college access network to reach students and families with college information in a community setting outside of the high school environment. Emergent findings uncovered issues of trust in the systems necessary to enroll in college. Findings also demonstrate the role of community trust in buffering the myopia of poverty. The PAR project offer offers important practical, policy, and theoretical implications for future research.

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