Ayana Allen-Handy, PhD and Shawnna Thomas-EL, PhD leading TRIPOD writers-in-residence in a research workshop, January 2019.

Ayana Allen-Handy, PhD and Shawnna Thomas-EL, PhD leading TRIPOD writers-in-residence in a research workshop, January 2019.

CNCS Community Conversations

In January 2019, Writers Room and the School of Education embarked on a two-year, community-led participatory action research study tackling alternative housing in West Philadelphia. The project, “Anti-Displacement: The Untapped Potential of University-Community Cooperative Living,” was awarded a $160K grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), with partial funding committed by CNCS’ anti-poverty arm, AmeriCorp VISTAS. Writers Room, since becoming finalists for ArtPlace America in 2017, has worked hard to create the framework that will allow us to create a meaningful community research experience for participants and researchers alike.

One of just 16 funded projects out of 202 applicants nationwide, the project investigates the landscape of residential displacement in Mantua, current affordable housing options, and how these options are understood by neighbors in need. 

Ayana Allen-Handy, PhD, an assistant professor in Drexel’s School of Education, leads the project, while the TRIPOD writers form the core group of researchers. Rachel Wenrick, founding director of Writers Room, is co-PI, and Kirsten Kaschock, PhD, assistant teaching professor of English, and D.S. Nicholas, RA, AIA, NCARB, an assistant professor in the Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, are senior personnel.

Community leaders Carol Richardson McCullough, advisory committee chair of Writers Room, and De’Wayne Drummond, president of the Mantua Civic Association, will also serve as senior personnel on the project, with YouthBuild Philadelphia teachers George Jenkins and Willa Deitch and education PhD student Shawnna Thomas-El acting as key partners.