Mapping Philadelphia Public Housing and Urban Higher Education Accessibility and Enrollment
Amalia Dache

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Pennsylvania

Primary Discipline

Higher Education
Researchers and policymakers know very little about how residents of public housing in urban areas access higher education. By studying the higher educational journeys of public housing residents in Philadelphia, my study will provide an urban model pointedly absent from studies of college access, housing policy, and geography of opportunity. This project will examine the educational trajectories of community members who live in Philadelphia public housing and how well local postsecondary institutions serve these people. The research design is an explanatory mixed-method, two-phase sequential model that will analyze quantitative and qualitative data through a Geographic Information System (GIS). By providing educational data on Philadelphia�s public housing residents living in Racially/Ethnically Concentrated Areas of Poverty (R/ECAP) a federal HUD geographic designation, my research design will be foundational for studies of college accessibility in U.S. cities. Inquiry into government policy and its contribution to economic and social mobility within the field of higher education will provide policy levers for reform since there have been no studies to date that combine city-specific and resident-specific quantitative and qualitative education data. The significance of this contribution lies in its potential to demonstrate that public housing residents are student populations worthy of exploring and learning from. A second contribution is understanding the relationship between housing policy designed to reduce racial discrimination and how it may be contributing to college accessibility for poor residents of color.
About Amalia Dache
An Afro-Cuban American scholar, Dr. Amalia Dache is an assistant professor in the Higher Education Division of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Her major research areas are postcolonial geographic contexts of higher education, Afro-Latina/o/x studies, community and student resistance, and the urban college-access experiences of African diasporic students and communities. Using geographic theories and methodologies, she engages in research within contested urban geographies, including Havana, Cuba; Cape Town, South Africa; Ferguson, Missouri; and Rochester, New York. In particular, Dr. Dache?s research explores geographic and structural factors that have historically inhibited access for students on the margins of race and class. At the same time, she strives to highlight urban spaces as sites of public knowledge, teaching, and learning, and to identify external factors such as residential segregation, transportation, and urban divestment that may contribute to increasing the enrollment of working-class populations at higher education institutions that are within or near their residential neighborhoods. Dr. Dache is published in leading social science journals such as: Teachers College Record; The Review of Higher Education, International Journal of Qualitive Studies in Education, Equity and Excellence in Education, and The Journal of Diversity in Higher Education. She is lead-editor of Rise Up! Activism as Education, published by Michigan State University Press (2019). Dr. Dache was recently awarded the Rockefeller Institute of Government?s Richard P. Nathan Public Policy Fellowship for 2019-2020, to research geographic data on racial, transit, and economic factors inhibiting access to local postsecondary education in Upstate New York. Dr. Dache received her Ph.D. from University of Rochester in Educational Leadership in 2014, her master?s in Liberal Studies and bachelor?s in English Literature from State University of New York (SUNY) institutions, Empire State College and Brockport College, respectively. She began her higher education journey proudly at SUNY Monroe Community College and earned an Associates in Liberal Studies.

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