About the CERES Institute 

The Ceres Institute for Children and Youth

We conduct applied research and evaluations in order to drive positive educational and life outcomes for children and youth.

Working with key partners in communities, we use rigorous, systematic, and innovative methodologies to develop knowledge that policymakers and practitioners can use immediately to support their young people.

We also generate knowledge that is grounded in the experiences of our partner communities and can be used to inform work in other communities as they strive to improve the lives of their young people.

Importantly, we place children and youth at the center of our inquiries, seeking to help policymakers, practitioners, and researchers better understand who young people are, what young people need to thrive, and how to structure the practices, programs, and policies that actually get young people what they need.

Our Core Beliefs
  • Children and youth are at the center of our work. We build all of our work around the simple question: What is in the best interests of the children and youth we seek to support?
  • All children and youth are full of assets but may interact with people, institutions, policies, and structures that create barriers to them realizing their full potential. We view children and youth as the sum of their intrinsic potential and recognize adverse life conditions in our work.
  • We are dedicated to supporting communities and partners as they tackle issues of inequity and bias based on race, culture, language, gender, sexuality, and specialized learning needs.
  • Research is meant to be shared and used. If our research is to have any value, it must be useful to community partners and get into the hands of people with the power to make structural or policy level changes.
Our Vision & Mission

Our Vision

All children and youth will grow up with the support they need to become thriving adults.

Our Mission

Be the crossroads of inquiry, analysis, and action for research and evaluation on how to create the conditions necessary for all children and youth to grow into thriving adults, in authentic partnership with community members.

Our Work

Applied Research: Our original research seeks to answer specific questions posed to us by practitioners, policymakers, or others actively working to improve education and life conditions for children and youth in particular communities.  Our original research typically falls into or cuts across the following themes:

  • Positive youth development
  • Teaching, learning, and school climate
  • Social, emotional, and academic development
  • Race and culture

Program Evaluation: We evaluate programs that are designed to improve youth conditions to see if, and how, they are achieving their goals. We work with communities to build their capacity to use data to continuously improve their programs and supports.

From Research to Action: A core function of the Institute is a communications and outreach function to promote the work of the Institute and those with whom it works, with the goal of informing, influencing, and inspiring action. Work will be shared with policymakers, education leaders, journalists, influencers, and the wider academic community. We conduct research, but our end goal is to leverage that research to transform outcomes for youth.

Center for Promise: The Center for Promise, a partnership between Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development and America’s Promise Alliance, is a project of CERES Institute for Children & Youth. Its mission is to develop a deep understanding of the conditions necessary for young people in the United States to succeed in school and life.

Our Community Advisors

Coming soon…

Our Team

Dr. Jonathan Zaff

Dr. Jonathan F. Zaff

Director

 

Anna Skubel

Cat Donohue

Graduate Research Assistant

 

Anna Skubel

Deep Patel

Undergraduate Research Assistant

 

Anna Skubel

Runsheng Wang

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Dr. Jonathan Zaff

Marissa Cole

Managing Director

 

Dr. Jonathan Zaff

Yawei Huang

Doctoral Research Assistant

 

Anna Skubel

Ruby Simonoff

Graduate Research Assistant

 

Dr. Shannon Varga

Dr. Shannon Varga

Associate Director of Research
& Evaluation

Isabel Mullens

Isabel Mullens

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Anna Skubel

Anna Skubel

Doctoral Research Assistant

 

Faculty Fellows

Stephanie Curenton, Associate Professor; Director of the Center on the Ecology of Early Development (CEED); Program Director for Child & Youth Policy Certificate
Leslie Dietiker, Associate Professor, Mathematics Education
Jennifer Greif Green, Associate Professor, Special Education
Amie Grills, Research Professor, Counseling Psychology and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs
Melissa Holt, Associate Professor; Department Chair for Counseling Psychology & Applied Human Development

Nathan Jones, Associate Professor, Special Education & Education Policy
Yasuko Kanno, Associate Professor, Program Director for Language Education
Linda Sprague Martinez, Associate Professor; Chair, Macro Practice
V. Scott Solberg, Professor, Counseling Psychology and Applied Human Development
Marcus Winters, Associate Professor; Chair for Educational Leadership & Policy Studies; Faculty Director, WEPC
Renée Spencer, Associate Dean for Research and Professor, BU School of Social Work

Contact Us

ceres@bu.edu