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The Center for Rural Pennsylvania 2021 Research Grant Projects


Social Isolation in Rural Pennsylvania
Dr. Christopher Harris of Kutztown University of Pennsylvania will analyze the extent of social isolation among rural Pennsylvanians age 65 years or older. The research will identify evidence-based programs that minimize social isolation, evaluate the determinants of social isolation, and evaluate current programs and services used in other states to determine replicability in Pennsylvania.

Assessment of Quality of Housing Stock in Rural Pennsylvania
Dr. Ying Yang of Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania will create a quantitative index to measure the quality of housing stock and its distribution in rural Pennsylvania. The research will also identify major public housing programs and assess their effectiveness, and propose policy recommendations that can help rural Pennsylvanians to achieve quality and healthy residences.

Distance Learning and Online Coordination of Service in Pennsylvania’s Rural School Districts
Dr. Gerard LeTendre of The Pennsylvania State University will use website data, surveys, and focus groups to analyze school district digital infrastructure and long-term planning in Pennsylvania’s 235 rural school districts. The research will also provide policy recommendations in four areas: infrastructure; instruction and curriculum; student support; and family and community engagement.

Profile of Pennsylvania’s Children
Dr. Rhoda C. Joseph of The Pennsylvania State University – Harrisburg will use secondary data from multiple sources to present an analysis of children (ages 0-17) in Pennsylvania, for the 10-year period of 2010-2019. The research will analyze the data along eight dimensions and present a comprehensive perspective on Pennsylvania’s rural and urban children.


Special Focus Area: Covid-19 and Its Impact on Rural Pennsylvania


COVID-19 Effects on Pennsylvania’s Crime Trends: A Rural/Urban Comparison
Dr. David Yerger of Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a team of researchers will analyze aggregated, monthly county victimization data, collected from multiple sources by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) and from Protection from Abuse filings, to describe the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on victimization across Pennsylvania. The team will also describe any rural-urban differences in crime effects.

Analyzing the Effects of COVID-19 on Educational Equity in Rural Pennsylvania School Districts
Dr. Kai Schafft  of Penn State University and a team of researchers will examine how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected educational inequities and school district responses along fiscal, spatial, instructional, and racial/ethnic lines across rural Pennsylvania school districts. The research will use a mixed-methods approach, combining state-level data and local case studies, to inform educational equity policy as the pandemic subsides.  

Examining the Effects of COVID on Elementary Student Reading Development: A Longitudinal Analysis 
Dr. Daniel Wissinger of Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a team of researchers will examine student reading trajectories across 2020-2021 to understand the potential effects of COVID-19 on reading development.