Introduction to the Poverty Alleviation Concentration

For this month, the MPPSA blog will focus on our Poverty Alleviation concentration. All posts will pertain to poverty and income inequality. We will also spotlight current students, professors, and alumni within the concentration.

Many prospective students are attracted to the Heller School’s Master of Public Policy (MPP) program because of its concentration in Poverty Alleviation. The concentration’s mission is to “enable students to develop a theoretical and empirical understanding of the causes, manifestations, and consequences of social and economic inequalities.” With this foundation, students can then develop, analyze, and evaluate policies and programs that aim to alleviate poverty.

Students who choose the Poverty Alleviation concentration have a wide range of interests, including but not limited to:

  • Income and wealth inequality
  • Labor policy
  • Mass incarceration
  • Housing and homelessness
  • Community development
  • Food justice
  • Disability rights

First year Poverty Alleviation concentrators, both MPP and PhD students, take Assets and Social Policy with concentration chair Professor Janet Boguslaw. This class serves as an introduction to the field of asset policy, with a grounding in the formative literature of the field, including Michael Sherraden’s Assets and the Poor. It raises important questions such as the role of government and other institutions in expanding or limiting asset-building opportunities.

Professor Boguslaw is also Associate Director of the Heller MPP Program and Associate Director of Heller’s Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP).

IASP is a renowned research institute dedicated to advancing economic opportunity, security, and equity for individuals and families, through an assets framework. The staff researchers produce reports on topics ranging from racial inequality and mobility to senior and middle class economic security, and are thought leaders in the assets field. Beyond their wide-reaching research and policy analysis, IASP works to build the institutional capacity of partner organizations and conducts community engagement to spread knowledge about asset-building policies and programs. Students have the opportunity to apply for graduate research assistant positions with IASP.

Classes offered this semester that may count toward the Poverty Alleviation concentration:

  • The Political Economy of the American Welfare State- Professor Robert Kuttner
  • Social Justice and the Obama Administration- Professor Anita Hill
  • Great Debates on Social Policy- Visiting Professor Deborah Stone

We hope you enjoy learning more about the Poverty Alleviation concentration through our blog content this month!

Ariela Lovett
Poverty Alleviation Concentrator


Introduction to the Children, Youth, and Families Concentration

As part of the Children, Youth, and Families (CYF) concentration at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, you quickly discover that all issues fall into the CYF realm. In one way or another, all policy is family policy. Due to its all-encompassing nature, students and faculty within the concentration have a wide range of interests, including but not limited to:

  • Early childhood development
  • LGBTQ+ youth
  • Youth & family homelessness
  • Education policy
  • Children in Foster care and those aging out of Foster care
  • Disability policy
  • Food security

Within this concentration, the Master of Public Policy program provides students with the opportunity to develop skills needed to be effective leaders in fields that foster the healthy development of children, youth, and families. Classes are founded on theory and emerging field research, which inform our class discussions and strategy development as we move towards action.

The Heller School houses two important research institutes that contribute to the continued advancement of knowledge within the field. The Institute for Children, Youth and Family Policy (ICYFP) is focused on both quantitative and qualitative research to understand the disparities that exist and to inform social policies that impact the development of these populations.

Believing wholeheartedly that “enough is known for action”, the Center for Youth and Communities (CYC) turns to action by supporting the development of programming that will prepare youths for “education, work, and life”. The center utilizes science-based research and practical experience to improve program efficiency, government policies, and non-profit strategy.

Professor Susan P. Curnan heads the Center for Youth and Communities in conjunction with working as the Chair of the CYF concentration within both the MPP and MBA programs at Heller.

Children, Youth, and Family classes currently offered include:

  • Perspectives on Youth Policy, Program Management, and Systems Design;
  • Contemporary Issues in Policies and Programs for Children, Youth, and Families;
  • American Gay Rights Movement: Social Justice and Social Policy;
  • National and International Perspectives on Youth Policy and Programs

Sophie Pingul
Children, Youth, and Family Concentrator


CYF Concentrators in Perspectives on Youth Policy, Program Management, and Systems Design