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Professor Gustavo J. Bobonis will lead a partnership with the Puerto Rico Department of Education to advance students’ academic achievement in the territory’s public schools

April 11, 2019

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Professor Gustavo Bobonis
Professor Gustavo J. Bobonis
The William T. Grant and Spencer Foundations have announced the award of this year’s Institutional Challenge Grant to the University of Toronto. The three-year grant of US $650,000 will support Professor Gustavo J. Bobonis, Canada Research Chair in the Political Economy of Development, to lead a partnership with the Puerto Rico Department of Education (PRDE) to produce and use evidence on ways to improve academic outcomes for youth served by Puerto Rico’s historically under-performing public education system. The obstacles associated with improving academic outcomes in the territory are long-standing and deeply rooted, but PRDE has established a renewed commitment to increase the use of data, evidence, and research in their decision-making with the intent of improving academic achievement.

Bobonis will lead a team of local and national researchers to
  • support and assess the impact of a school principal training and leadership program, whose aim is to enrich school environments and improve instructional practices to better serve students, and
  • shed light on the effects of recent school closures, build on positive consequences, and identify policies for reducing negative ones.

In order to implement institutional change within U of T, the Department of Economics is working to create a policy research lab to facilitate the conduct of this type of partnership work.

Based on the firm conviction that partnerships are the most productive and effective way for social science research to be applied to policy, U of T’s engagement with PRDE began in 2017. Bobonis is delighted that this award will permit that nascent association to flourish, noting that “the grant will allow us to strengthen an existing relationship and, ultimately, contribute toward the overall goal of finding effective policy instruments for combating youth inequality.”

The Institutional Challenge Grant was established to build partnerships that pursue a research agenda to reduce inequality in youth outcomes. Collaborative work between research institutions and partner organizations helps bring evidence from research into policy decision making.

→ Read the U of T News article