From left, Calvin Bland fellow Toorjo Ghose, Penn Nursing Dean Antonia Villarruel, fellow Ed Brockenbrough, fellow Lisa Lewis, Social Policy and Practice Dean John L. Jackson and Graduate School Education Dean Pam Grossman. — PHOTO SUBMITTED BY THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA

The University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Futures Project has named three Calvin Bland Faculty Fellows to collaborate on research to benefit boys and young men of color.

The fellows are Ed Brockenbrough, Toorjo Ghose and Lisa Lewis. Supported by a $2 million endowment from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the fellows were selected from the faculty at the university’s School of Nursing, Graduate School of Education and School of Social Policy and Practice.

The fellowships are designed to empower faculty to conduct research through an interdisciplinary approach aimed at improving the lives of at-risk young men and boys of color and their families. The Bland fellows will collectively develop a plan for collaborative work that not only advances individual scholarly work but also has a broader impact on young men of color in Philadelphia.

The awards will be used for research and research-related expenses, including convening conferences, lectures, seminars and other events to disseminate the research of the fellows and helping them to publish work in scholarly and popular venues.

Brockenbrough joined Penn’s Graduate School of Education as an associate professor in its Teaching, Learning and Leadership division in September. His research explores the intersections of race, gender and sexuality in urban educational contexts.

Brockenbrough organizes his research into two strands — the experiences of Black male teachers in urban schools and the educational needs and perspectives of queer youth of color. As a Calvin Bland fellow, he will continue to explore how Black masculinity politics shape the experiences of Black men in urban teaching, and he will extend his recent line of inquiry, initially funded by the University of Rochester’s Center for AIDS Research, on sexual health education for young Black queer males.

Ghose is an associate professor at the School of Social Policy and Practice and founder of the Center for Carceral Communities. His work focuses on structural interventions in the areas of incarceration, substance use, homelessness and HIV, both at the domestic and international levels.

The Center for Carceral Communities focuses on reducing recidivism, improving mental health and facilitating community re-engagement as it collaborates with West Philadelphia organizations to help previously incarcerated people successfully reintegrate into their communities. The center provides free, evidence-based psychosocial services that also address education, housing, advocacy and primary care challenges.

Lewis is an associate professor and assistant dean for diversity and inclusivity at Penn Nursing. Her research focuses on reducing racial disparities in blood pressure control with an emphasis on determinants of treatment adherence among hypertensive Blacks.

In her work, Lewis identified the importance of psychosocial, socio-cultural and clinical factors such as social networks, depression, spirituality and perceived discrimination on hypertension treatment adherence.

Her most recent work explores perceptions of masculinity in the behavioral management of hypertension among Black men, with an emphasis on development and testing of mobile health interventions to improve their blood pressure management. Lewis was appointed a Penn Fellow in 2015 and is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing.

The fellowships are named for Penn alumnus Calvin Bland, whose scholarship and career have explored how to foster health equity across communities, with an emphasis on at-risk young men and boys of color.

Bland is a product of Philadelphia public schools, former president of St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Robert Wood Foundation chief of staff, health care executive, research professor at Rutgers University and member of the School of Social Policy and Practice Board of Overseers.

“Vulnerable young men of color have limited opportunities to lead productive and rewarding lives. I perceive this issue as the greatest problem confronting communities of color,” Bland said in a news release.

“The Penn Futures Project, aimed at the health and well-being of youth and their families and beyond, addresses this concern. I predict the work of these inaugural fellows will foster truly innovative and integrated approaches that will greatly benefit many young men and their families in West Philadelphia for years to come.”

Launched in 2015, the Penn Futures Project is an initiative driven by Graduate School of Education Dean Pam Grossman, School of Nursing Dean Antonia M. Villarruel and Social Policy and Practice Dean John L. Jackson Jr. The project seeks to collaboratively generate knowledge, deliver solutions and develop future professionals ready to join forces to improve outcomes for marginalized youth and families in Philadelphia.

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