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UMSL professor Jerome Morris lands $1M award for research aimed at reconnecting schools with communities

Morris will direct research teams to lead community-based case studies in three predominantly Black school districts around St. Louis
Credit: SLBJ
University of Missouri-St. Louis professor Jerome Morris will use a $1 million research award to continue his study into how strong community connections can improve educational outcomes, particularly for Black students.

ST. LOUIS — University of Missouri-St. Louis on Tuesday said one of its professors, Jerome Morris, was awarded a prestigious $1 million prize to continue research they believe will transform education, particularly for Black communities.

Allen is the latest recipient of the Lyle M. Spencer Research Award to Transform Education, which supports “intellectually ambitious” research projects aiming to transform education with budgets between $525,000 and $1 million

That capital will be used to support his ongoing research into his theory of communally bonded schooling, which examines how schools with strong ties to their surrounding communities can provide a better learning environment, particularly for Black students.

Desegregation policies that pushed students out of their communities and into suburban school districts created a disconnect between the students and the neighborhoods where they were educated, Morris said in a story on UMSL's website.

“It’s important to rebuild these relationships,” Morris said told UMSL's internal news service. “Albeit, many of them existed during a segregated era, it’s important to rebuild these relationships because we see even more today this disconnect that Black students have with schooling – in predominantly Black schools in terms of the connection that schools have with communities and when they go to predominantly white schools, there’s a sense of not feeling part of the school culture and community.”

For his research, Morris will direct research teams to lead community-based case studies in three predominantly Black school districts around St. Louis: St. Louis Public Schools, the Jennings School District and the Ferguson-Florissant School District. 

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