The Urban Initiative is integrating a research component into the program from the very beginning in order to evaluate the success of its efforts, refine its attempts to provide effective programs, and develop new methodologies for training students as the Initiative matures. This research will take shape through the Urban Fellows program, which includes several key strategies:
In 2007, members of the Urban Initiative workgroup - including representatives from the Los Angeles Job Corps Center, the Union Rescue Mission, educators and parents from the Southgate School District, and GSEP alumni working in urban environments - met to design the Urban Fellows program learning community structure. Working across disciplines and programs, participants outlined the components of a systematic program for Urban Fellows. Dean of GSEP Dr. Margaret Weber spoke in support of the program: "Not only will our students benefit from the increased support that comes from being a member of a learning community, but the program will also bring our community partners and alumni together with the potential to make their work more reflective and responsive."
Fellows learn about common education and mental health issues that appear in urban settings, successful intervention methods, family dynamics, working with public and private agencies, and community building. Fellows in GSEP's education programs work in diverse settings including charter schools and high schools, middle schools and elementary schools in South Gate, part of Los Angeles Unified School District's District 6. Fellows in GSEP's psychology programs work with Job Corps, a federally mandated program administered in Los Angeles by the Young Women's Christian Association; Hope Gardens, a transitional facility for women and children in Sylmar, California and an extension of the Union Rescue Mission, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the poor and homeless of Los Angeles; and the Orange County Rescue Mission in Tustin, California.