Current Grant Projects

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania 2022 Research Grant Projects


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Community and Economic Impact of the Pennsylvania Wilds

Dr. Susan Ryan, California University of Pennsylvania
This research will include stakeholder interviews, a multi-channel, web-based survey for three stakeholder groups, an economic impact analysis using IMPLAN and other sources, and a qualitative content analysis of existing success story transcripts. The combined expertise in tourism and economic development of the study's experienced researchers will be leveraged to determine characteristics for the 13-county PA Wilds region, such as the brand's recognition, visitor conversion, authenticity, and economic impact. The resulting quantitative and qualitative analysis will inform public policy recommendations, including local, county, and state considerations.

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Community College "Promise" Programs and Alternative Tuition Strategies in Pennsylvania and Beyond

Dr. David Monaghan, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania
This research will systematically examine college "Promise" programs and delayed tuition payment plans in Pennsylvania and other states. The research will provide detailed case studies, drawing on state data and interviews with stakeholders, of four programs in Pennsylvania: Tamaqua, Allentown, Philadelphia, and Harrisburg. Researchers will supplement the data and information with estimates of academic effects of Promise programs and delayed tuition payment plans nationwide. They will also gather original data on the coverage (students funded) and costs of existing college Promise programs.

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Population Projections for Pennsylvania for the Next 30 Years

Dr. Phillip Sirinides, The Pennsylvania State University - Harrisburg
This research will develop projections to the year 2050, using the Cohort Component Method of Population Projection. This model categorizes population change according to natural increase and net migration. Projections will be produced in 5-year intervals, beginning in 2020 for individual counties by 5-year age cohorts and gender.

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Burden of COVID-19 Pandemic on Mental Health and Related Behavioral Stressors of Students in Pennsylvania Schools

Dr. S. N. Gajanan, University of Pittsburgh - Bradford
This research will collect primary and secondary data to compute a multidimensional measure of mental health status among Pennsylvania school students and examine the impact of the pandemic on youth behaviors. The study will incorporate socio-economic and demographic information, along with behavioral and attitudinal measures among students in Pennsylvania schools. The study will use the Pennsylvania Youth Survey (PAYS) data from pre-pandemic (2017, 2019) and pandemic (2021) time-periods and link the results to relevant policy considerations.

Special Focus Area: Covid-19 and Its Impact on Rural Pennsylvania


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Assessing the Fiscal and COVID-19 Pandemic Impacts, Demographic and Academic Patterns, and Parent Motivations of Cyber Charter Enrollment on Rural Pennsylvania School Districts

Dr. Karen Eppley - The Pennsylvania State University
This research will use statewide fiscal, demographic, and academic data to produce updated information on the impacts of cyber charters on rural school districts. It will also gather data via interviews to better understand why families are opting into cyber charters, how the pandemic has impacted cyber charter operations, and how rural school superintendents and cyber directors are understanding and reacting to changing enrollment patterns and fiscal challenges.

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Reversing Population Decline in Rural Pennsylvania

Dr. Bing Ran, The Pennsylvania State University - Harrisburg
This research will use a mixed-methods approach to uncover the characteristics of potential new residents for rural Pennsylvania, what might encourage (or block) them to relocate to rural areas and engage them to stay, and what techniques have been used in rural communities in stopping depopulation both in and outside of Pennsylvania.