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Pictured here (left to right) are School of Social Policy and Practice Dean John Jackson, Graduate School of Education Dean Pam Grossman and School of Nursing Dean Antonia Villarruel

A new series of Penn fellowships have provided a platform for three faculty members to research issues of race, gender and health in communities of color, especially in Philadelphia. 

Part of Penn's growing efforts to engage its Philadelphia neighbors and funded by a $2 million endowment from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the fellowships are a part of the Penn Futures Project, a collaborative initiative started in 2015 by the deans of the School of Nursing, the Graduate School of Education and the School of Social Policy and Practice to "to improve outcomes for marginalized youth and families," according to a press release.  

Each fellowship lasts five years, is associated with one of the three schools and has specific research goals and funding delineations. 

Lisa Lewis, assistant dean for diversity and inclusion at the Nursing School, is that school's Calvin Bland Fellow. Her current scholarly work focuses on hypertension in black men. 

“There was a call from the National Institute of Health for proposals to examine racial and ethnic minority men and chronic illnesses, because many men of color experience the most pressing disparities around many of the chronic illnesses,” she told Generocity, a social impact site.  

Other fellows include GSE professor Ed Brockenbrough, who researches the intersectionality of race and gender in urban education, and SP2 professor Toorjo Ghose, who is the founder of Penn’s Center for Carceral Communities,  which according to his faculty web page is “a collective of service providers and people with a history of incarceration.” Ghose studies community prevention, rehabilitation and the reintegration of previously incarcerated individuals. 

The fellowships were named after Calvin Bland, a 1972 Wharton graduate who is a research professor at Rutgers University and previously served as the RWJ Foundation's chief of staff.

"Vulnerable young men of color have limited opportunities to lead productive and rewarding lives. I perceive this issue as the greatest problem confronting communities of color,” Bland said in a statement

PFP has also led and sponsored many other initiatives that call on the work of Penn professors. The SexGen Policy Lab, established in September 2016, focuses on “building research opportunities for Penn students and the local community around gender and sexuality, with a distinct applied policy, economic, and housing lens.” The lab was supported by a $15,000 grant for its first year, according to a University press release.