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CSEM is three-years-old

By Craig Richardson and Alvin Atkinson 

Sept. 17, 2020 marks CSEM’s third birthday. We have made strong progress in bringing to light the challenges facing economic mobility in our city and county. That’s happened through top-rate Winston-Salem State University faculty research, along with community engagement — with increasing help from our students.  

As we enter our fourth year, we continue to research issues ranging from transportation to education, all of which have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.  
Our partnerships continue to grow, ranging from local partners to those with national reputations. This summer,  we worked with the Washington-D.C.- based think tank New America on a major study of property rights, along with Wake Forest University.  Local media, including the Winston-Salem Journal and WFDD, covered the project.  

In addition, in the wake of our transportation research, we were selected to work with Forsyth Technical Community College on a survey of students who ride city buses to school. Forsyth County picked CSEM to produce a detailed report on its  Homeownership Program aimed at upward economic mobility, as well as produce a film documentary . Soon, our newest Research Fellows will produce research on prisoner re-entry and the employment challenges faced by Black women with disabilities.  

CSEM has now introduced a new Data Hub on our website, datasets include data regarding a wide variety of topics, such as Forsyth County census tract estimates, Winston-Salem bus drivers, eviction rates, and Forsyth County school performance data, among many other subjects. CSEM houses and uses these datasets with goal of empirically understanding the various causes and consequences of low upward mobility rates in Forsyth County. The datasets are open to the community upon application to CSEM’s website. Minority entrepreneurship is another area that CSEM promotes. We are sponsoring Tate Consulting’s The NE3W Leadership Academy, which holds it first session next week at Graylyn International Conference Center and promises to be become the bedrock of East Winston networking for breaking down the barriers for economic development. We are identifying metrics for success in this program that tie in with national Gallup surveys on fragile communities first identified by the Center for Advancing Opportunity, a part of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.   

We gratefully acknowledge the generous $3 million in funding from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s Center for Advancing Opportunity (CAO), an initiative supported by The Charles Koch Foundation and Koch Industries that aims to increase the number of researchers and the research expertise of historically black colleges and universities faculty.  

 CSEM’s mission, its work and research questions have always flourished because of the academic independence that has been enshrined by both us and our donors. Working with our talented advisory board, encompassing a diverse group of members from our community, we have carefully selected CSEM Research Fellows from a variety of social science and business disciplines at WSSU. They have tackled issues ranging from economic development, education, psychological hurdles to the criminal justice system. Yet it is surprising how often we find the answers intertwined with each others’ disciplines, opening our eyes up to previous blind spots.  

That, plus our relentless focus on our own Forsyth County, makes CSEM unique among all research centers in the country. Our policy reports are accessible and written without technical language. Our CSEM Fellows and staff present their findings at community events and put reports in the hands of our city and county leaders. 

We take their questions, and ours, to public officials to engender dialogue that can lead to solutions.

We are moving towards rapidly increasing the number of WSSU students directly involved with CSEM research. We will be sponsoring more than a dozen student researchers, called CSEM Student Fellows, with financial support. That is in addition to other students who already work directly with our Faculty Fellows. Despite all the challenges we face from the COVID-19 crisis, our work has and will continue to move forward.

Richardson is CSEM’s founding director. Atkinson is the center’s associate director. To read CSEM’s annual report, please click the link on the News and Events page.