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Student Engagement

Poverty Solutions engages and empowers students interested in poverty alleviation and economic mobility through hands-on research, events, and academic programs and courses.

Student Metrics


Students assisted with Poverty Solutions research projects during the academic year 2022-23.

We are committed to engaging students and the campus community to extend learning beyond the classroom. Our action-based research assistant opportunities, academic programs, student workshops, and events aim to deepen students’ understanding of the root causes of poverty, offer real world experience, and further ignite their dedication to pursue solutions to the poverty challenges of our time.

Engaging students, in turn, brings new insight, knowledge, and opinions to our work; enhances our interdisciplinary and collaborative approach; lends support and capacity to our projects and activities; and helps to promote campus-wide engagement.

Poverty Solutions Course

Poverty Solutions offers the gateway course Real-World Perspectives on Poverty Solutions (SWK 503 section 001), which is open to all students. This course features national and global leaders and aims to ignite new conversations and deepen existing commitments regarding poverty prevention and alleviation strategies and programs.

The one-credit course explores interdisciplinary, real-world poverty solutions from a wide variety of perspectives and encourages the formation of a community of learners at U-M committed to engaging these issues together. This lecture series course features different guest speakers each week. Lectures will be recorded and made available online to engage the community regarding strategies and programs for poverty prevention and alleviation. Lectures will be free and available to the community as space permits.

“This has been the most inspiring class I’ve taken at the university and has been something I looked forward to every week. I hope the speaker series continues [next year!]” – Zoe Xuan Qin, MBA 2025

Poverty Solutions Certificate

In partnership with the Community Action and Social Change (CASC) minor program, based at the School of Social Work, Poverty Solutions offers a certificate program. This certificate allows CASC students to focus on poverty alleviation and prevention within this social justice-focused, interdisciplinary minor. It also provides students with several opportunities to connect with Poverty Solutions through social events, research opportunities, and mentorship. Learn more.

The CASC minor, which currently has 250 undergraduate students enrolled each year, is flexibly designed for all undergraduate students to build skills and knowledge to enact social change.

Poverty Solutions Certificate Approved Courses

For students enrolled in the certificate program:

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Student Research Opportunities

Poverty Solutions has several opportunities for students to contribute to action-based poverty research. Through research assistantships, students work alongside faculty and staff while gaining real-world experience and often contributing to policy change.

Current availability:

Research Assistants

Research assistants contribute to data analysis, longitudinal research, literature reviews, data preparation, collection and analysis, event support and reporting. They engage with community partners, connect their learning and experience to our projects, and provide the capacity to take on many projects we couldn’t otherwise consider.

Find out more and apply to be an RA.

Funded doctoral student research

  • Marnay Avant, Sociology, “Making Home More than a Roof: Low-Income Renters’ Experiences with Housing Quality in the HCV Program”
  • Katherine Richards, Economics and Public Policy, “Penalties in the Safety Net: Effects of Work Requirement Enforcement on Safety Net Attachment and Labor Supply”
  • Olivia David, School for Environment and Sustainability, “Centering Lived Experience in Defining and Designing Effective Water Affordability Policy”
  • Peter Carroll, Political Science, “Predicting Poverty: Advancing Measurement of Economic Well-being in Uganda through the Combined Use of Publicly Available Satellite Imagery, Representative Surveys, and Government Infrastructure Records”
  • Davis Daumler, Sociology, “Multigenerational Cycles of Poverty”
  • Alexander Fertig, Public Policy and Economics, “Reparations as a Tool for Intergenerational Poverty Alleviation: Evidence from the Eastern Cherokees”
  • Lanora Johnson, Sociology, “The Gendered Consequences of Crises in Eastern Kentucky”
  • Sooji Kim, Education, “Understanding the Information Needs of Blue-Collar Scholars to Improve the Federal Work-Study Program”
  • Asher Dvir-Djerassi, Sociology and Public Policy, “Establishing the Relationship between Wealth Inequality, Income Inequality, and Poverty: Applying Counterfactual Historical Simulation to IRS Administrative Tax Data”
  • Analidis Ochoa, Sociology and Social Work, “Blood Veins for Hire: Plasma Donation in and Age of Inequality, Instability, and Precarious Work”
  • Christopher Quarles, School of Information, “A Community’s Effect on Educational Success”
  • Nikhil Rao, Economics, “Examining Interventions to Improve the Post-Release Outcomes of Incarcerated Individuals”
  • Brandon Romero, Political Science, “More COPS, Higher Turnout?”
  • Shoshana Shapiro, Public Policy and Sociology, “Measuring the Association Between The COVID-19 Pandemic, Material Hardship, and Work Hours and Earnings in Recreation Industry Dependent Counties”
  • Briana Starks, Social Work and Sociology, “‘Can I Use my EBT Card at the Student Store?’ The Intersection of Postsecondary Education and the Welfare State”
  • Brittany Vasquez, Public Policy and Sociology, “The Effect of Subsidized Meals on Student Outcomes: Evidence from Medicaid Direct Certification”
  • Lydia Wileden, Public Policy and Sociology, “Assessing Detroit’s ‘Blight Flight’: Residential Perceptions and Neighborhood Attachment in Response Demolition”
  • Naomi Mae Wilson, Education, “YOU DREAM: Youth Organizers Unifying Detroit and Reclaiming Education by Any Means”

Student Advisory Board

The Poverty Solutions Student Advisory Board plays a critical role as the liaison between students and the initiative, helping to expand poverty-related efforts on campus. Use this form to apply to be a member of the Student Advisory Board, either as an individual member or the representative of a student organization.
Advisory board members can serve as individuals or representatives of a student organization. Student advisory board activities include:

  • Advising on programming, including recommending speakers or events they might find interesting, as well as shaping planned events.
  • Identifying resources and funding mechanisms, such as grants and internships, to support efforts related to poverty alleviation on campus and connect to other student groups and agencies providing funding
  • Helping Poverty Solutions engage with low-income students on campus.

Student Organizations

There are several University of Michigan student organizations doing work related to alleviating poverty, including:

Have a suggestion for a student organization to add? Send us an email at

Student Stories

Innovation Workshop 2024: Debt

More than 50 lawyers, policymakers, students, and coders from around the country convened over two days to tackle the pressing issue of debt collection and its impact on Michigan’s families and legal system at a workshop organized by Michigan Law student Malcolm Phelan.

Read more
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