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Since its founding in 1988, the Howard Samuels State Management and Policy Center has become an important source for comparative state and city research and political analysis.

In the past two decades, the roles of state and local governments have increased greatly as federalist policies are pursued and power is devolved away from the federal government to more local structures. As a result, the need for applied research on state and city level policy and politics has never been greater. The Samuels Center works to fulfill that need by publishing reports on politics and policy on the state and city level.

Our mission is to advance and promote democracy by focusing on those areas of research and public policy that increase access and participation to the political process, and foster equity and quality of services for marginalized groups.  Center research emphasizes education, welfare policy, community development, empowerment zones, and youth organizing. The role of community based organizations is central to the policy research in each area. The Center also takes an active role in expanding democratic discourse by convening conferences and seminars on these topics then publishing and disseminating their results. 

In addition, the Samuels Center places a high priority on training researchers and scholars, and in an effort to promote diversity in the social sciences, the Samuels Center has made a point of seeking out talented women and minority scholars interested in urban policy. The Center has provided dozens of graduate students the opportunity to get hands-on experience doing original research in the field as well as writing and publishing reports and journal articles while supporting their attainment of a post graduate degree.

The Scholars of the Future

The Howard Samuels Center, by employing graduate students on its research projects, helps students finance their education while providing them with invaluable practical experience in urban research. This experience furthers the students’ careers while ensuring that there will be a diverse work force devoted to urban issues that relate to democracy.

Kathe Newman, who currently has a post-doctoral appointment at the Center for Urban Policy Research at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, and teaches at Rutgers, worked as a Research Associate at the Samuels Center from 1992 - 1999.  "The Samuels Center provided opportunities that allowed me to develop extensive research experience on a variety of areas including community development, federal urban policy, urban politics, community activism and community organizing, urban education, and social policy. I honed both my qualitative and quantitative methodological skills by working on these projects. My work on the Empowerment Zone project, the CDCs in three cities project, and the study looking at race and gender in CDCs, gave me a thorough understanding of many of the issues involved with community development--the benefits and pitfalls. It was this experience that led to my current position at Rutgers.”

Laura McKenna is another Samuels Center alumnus. “During my eight years at the HSC, I participated in a number of studies, including research on the implementation of reforms at NYC Probation Department and the NYC Board of Education, the reason why students leave the CUNY colleges, and state education reform. I acquired qualitative and quantitative research skills that are beyond the scope of most graduate students. These experiences have enabled me to pursue my own research on school vouchers and my work as an education consultant for the Metiri Group.  Even more importantly, Marilyn exposed me to new ideas -- the importance of improving schools, the needs of disadvantaged groups, the political role of women, and the position of cities in American politics. These concerns have helped shape my own politics and the direction of my future research. I am deeply indebted to Marilyn and the HSC.”

Carol Archer’s work at the Samuels Center provided her the research experience and the financial support essential to completing her degree. She now is head of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Technology in Jamaica, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Statistical Institute of Jamaica.

Francois Pierre-Louis, recently appointed Assistant Professor of Political Science at Queens College and heads a Haitian-American community center in Brooklyn, worked at the Samuels Center for seven years. “At the Howard Samuels Center not only did I learn how to do research,” he relates, “but I had the opportunity to apply these skills to the study of current public policy issues, including the federal Empowerment Zone Program.

The Samuels Center also administers scholarship programs that aid minority students studying urban policy. Under a grant from the National Science Foundation the Samuels Center managed a project entitled “Graduate Research Traineeships on Human Capital in Urban Communities.” Five African American and Latino students participated in the program, which began in September 1996 and was completed in August 2001. The students took a sequence of courses on research methodology, theoretical approaches to understanding human capital, as well as undertook institutional studies of families, neighborhoods, schools, work places and labor markets. Having successfully completed these courses the students were then required to participate in apprenticeships on faculty research projects, conducting research and contributing to and writing papers on the topic of human capital in an urban context. The five trainees have published articles in peer-reviewed journals, authored and co-authored books or chapters in books, and presented papers they have written at conferences. All are making excellent progress in attaining their doctoral degrees.

In the past the Samuels Center has administered similar projects. From 1990 to 1994 the Center obtained a grant from the Aaron Diamond Foundation that financed the Diamond Minority Scholars Program. The program sponsored minority students seeking a Ph.D. at the Graduate Center, providing financial aid, health coverage, research stipends, opportunities to conduct original research, and academic counseling and guidance.

Grants and Projects

The Samuels Center is widely respected for undertaking important research tasks and getting valuable results. This is reflected in the Center’s long history of grants, provided by many first rank foundations and other highly respected institutions.

Notably, in the 2000-2001 academic year the Center completed and published two studies, one that marked the completion of research on the Empowerment Zones and another on state education politics and urban school reform. Work on welfare reform continued, specifically, the development of the national network of researchers and the research for two studies—a comparative study of state welfare policies and an evaluation of the welfare to work programs in Baltimore, New York, and California. Research began on the Center’s first international project, a study of democratic reform of local government and school systems that focused on increasing the political access of marginalized groups. The Center also conducted an evaluation of a Ford Foundation community organizing effort.

January 17, 2003
Ford Foundation — $300,000 for “Assessing community Change: Evaluation of the Ford Fund for Community Organizing”

May 1, 2002
The Anne E. Casey Foundation — $28,000 for the “Welfare Reform and the College Option: Lessons Learned”

October 1, 2001
The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation — $395,000 for the “Documentation and Evaluation of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation 2001-02 Intermediary Support Program of Emerging Organizations”

September 1, 2000
The Ford Foundation — $535,000 for the “Democracy Project”

September 1, 2000
The Rockefeller Foundation — $520,000 for the “Democracy Project”

June 1, 1998
Mc Arthur Foundation — $85,000 for “Empowerment Zones Planning & Implementation Experiences of Several Cities”

January 1, 1998
The Rockefeller Foundation — $100,000 for “Metropolitan Linkages Project”

September 1, 1997
NSF (National Science Foundation) — $ 562,500 for “Graduate Research Traineeships on Human Capital in Urban Communities”

February 1, 1997
McAuley Institute — $ 100,000 for “Women & Community Development”

March 1, 1996
The Ford Foundation — $100,000 for “Building Community Capacity: An Assessment of Community Development”

March 1, 1996
The Ford Foundation — $250,000 for “Multi State Study & Seminar on State Politics and Urban Schools”

March 1, 1996
The Ford Foundation — $350,000 for “CDCs and Neighborhood Development”

January 1, 1996
McArthur Foundation — $150,000 for “Empowerment Zones & Neighborhood Development Organizations”

November 1, 1995
The Rockefeller Brothers Funds — $60,000 for “School Reform & Community Capacity Building”

September 1, 1995
The Aspen Institute — $20,000 for “Race, Gender & Community Empowerment: A Comparative State Study”

March 1, 1995
The Ford Foundation — $50,000 for “Community Development Organizations: An Investigation of FAC”

January 1, 1995
The Ford Foundation — $75,000 for “Regimes & Reforms”

January 1, 1995
MacArthur Foundation — $75,000 for “Empowerment Zones & Neighborhood Development”

September 15, 1994
NSF (National Science Foundation) — $45,000 for “Urban Systemic Initiative Program”

March 1, 1994
Wagner Institute — $38,000 for  AFDC Study

June 1, 1993
The Ford Foundation — $50,000 for “Analysis of School Finance Reform and Its Impact on American Education”

March 19, 1993
MacArthur Foundation — $50,000 for “The Responsiveness of Community-Based Economic Development”

January 1, 1992
The Aspen Institute — $50,000 for “Community Economic Development Organizations and Activities: The Impact on Women”

July 1, 1991
Hunt Alternative Fund — $10,000 for “Women and Community Economic Development Organizations”

October 21, 1990
Aaron Diamond Foundation — $130,000 for “NYC Public Schools: A Public Policy Initiative”

June 1, 1990
The Ford Foundation — $100,000 for  “Research on the Effect of State Welfare Policies Providing”