Dr. Tangela Blakely Reavis Awarded the Spencer Foundation Grant

Dr. Tangela Blakely Reavis receives a grant for her project, “COVID-19 and Black Students’ College Choice: The Role of Race, Class, and School Context during a Global Pandemic.” 

Dr. Tangela Blakely Reavis has been awarded a $50,000 Spencer Foundation Grant for a new research project which looks at the intersections of Black students’ race, family, and school contexts when it comes to their college-going trajectories and how they have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of the Spencer Foundation is to “support rigorous, intellectually ambitious, and technically sound research that is relevant to the most pressing questions and compelling opportunities in education.”

There is growing research showing the pandemic has disproportionately harmed people of color. Between higher rates of infection and mortality and greater levels of economic and educational disruption, the pandemic has amplified existing racist structures that will have long-term implications for Black students and their pathways to college. Reavis says “Black students who seek higher education already face an array of systemic barriers linked to the historic and political context of their K-12 environments. This project unapologetically centers the perspectives and needs of college aspiring Black students and their families as they continue to navigate the evolving contexts that have resulted from the pandemic.” 

This three-year project, led by Dr. Tangela Blakely Reavis, assistant professor of educational leadership and Dr. Kelly E. Slay, assistant professor of higher education and public policy of Peabody College at Vanderbilt University, will be situated in several high schools located in a California metropolitan area. Drs. Reavis and Slay will collect data over a full academic year through in-depth interviews and examination of diary reflections from Black high school students. Researchers will also conduct interviews with students’ caregivers, school staff and administrators, and statewide higher education actors to further inform their understanding of the college-going landscape in California.  

Dr. Reavis adds, “while this project calls attention to the on-going barriers experienced by Black students in their pursuit of higher education, we also seek to highlight success stories as part of our inquiry to offer strategies to practitioners that may be instructive for supporting students’ college-going pathways post COVID-19.”

Dr. Reavis is the Program Director of the Preliminary Administrative Services Credential and Master of Arts in Educational Administration programs. Learn more about our Leadership Degree programs.