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Who We Are

As a center for rigorous research, deeply rooted in the principles of community youth development, our interdisciplinary team focuses on questions our community partners raise about issues that matter to youth. Our diverse research staff have backgrounds in anthropology, economics, education, information systems, political science, psychology, public policy, and sociology. We count among our ranks a lawyer, a choreographer, an environmentalist, and an architect.  Collectively, we represent expertise in research design and methods, community engagement, schools and school districts, youth development, and education policy. We share a strong commitment to youth, families, and communities, and to fostering a collaborative youth-sector approach to research that practitioners and policymakers can use to effect change. Working in deep partnership with the community, we build capacity to make data-driven improvements in youth services and outcomes.

As university citizens following John Gardner’s example, Gardner Center researchers actively engage with Stanford’s academic mission. In addition to our founding director, Milbrey McLaughlin, our staff collaborate with Stanford faculty members on interdisciplinary youth-focused research projects.  Our connection to Stanford is built on reciprocity: we work to bolster the university’s role in the fields of community-based research and youth development, and our university colleagues offer us invaluable skills, knowledge, and resources to achieve our mission of effecting change to improve the lives of youth.

Our staff is committed to providing Stanford graduate and undergraduate students with opportunities to engage in our work. We encourage students to come to the Gardner Center with questions and ideas about research-practice partnerships and community-based research. Working with our researchers, students will deepen and ground academic concepts in real-world contexts, and contribute in meaningful ways. The Gardner Center also prepares students to conduct community-based research as part of honors theses, research fellowships, and dissertations. Students who are interested in connecting with the Gardner Center can contact Associate Director Jorge Ruiz de Velasco for more information.

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