Spring 2023 CONNECT Cohort

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March 8, 2023
Logos of orgs participating in the spring 2023 connect cohort

The RGK Center’s CONNECT program kicked off its spring cohort this January with 21 student-organization matches. Six organizations were awarded scholarships to participate in the CONNECT program that otherwise wouldn’t have been able to pay the program fee.  

Half of the organizations participating this semester are returning to the program to expand on previous deliverables or begin related projects. Prosperity Now, a national organization based in Washington D.C., is one of the new organizations participating this semester. Prosperity Now’s mission is to build an economy that is just, fair and free from structural racism, where every person, family and community has the power to build sustainable wealth and prosperity.

This semester, Prosperity Now was paired with returning CONNECT fellow Kimberly McErlean, a PhD candidate in the Sociology department. McErlean was drawn to how Prosperity Now’s mission related to her doctoral studies of how family formation is stratified along class and racial ethnic lines, with an emphasis on the structural factors that shape unequal access to having a stable, long-lasting marriage.  

"The work [Prosperity Now is] doing to close gaps in economic inequality is exactly the sort of policy solution our society needs if we want to support all individuals and families,” says McErlean. 

This spring, McErlean will work alongside a team from Prosperity Now to track and measure the impact of Prosperity Now’s BIPOC Mergers and Acquisitions Project and to communicate the state of wealth for the three different geographic areas served by participants in the project.

Student group photo
A group of CONNECT fellows from the spring cohort joined the kickoff and workshop in January.

In the January cohort kickoff, students learned from LBJ/McCombs alum Jaclyn Le about different consulting styles and shared their previous experience with consulting. The fellows in this cohort represent six colleges across campus, including:  

  • LBJ School of Public Affairs 

  • Steve Hicks School of Social Work 

  • College of Liberal Arts 

  • School of Information 

  • Education 

  • UT Health  

The CONNECT program will award $47,250 in student fellowships by the end of the spring cohort. For many fellows like McErlean, the program provides a unique opportunity to engage with community organizations and develop valuable consulting and research skills they don't get a chance to use elsewhere.  

“The CONNECT program has really helped me think about the practical implications of my research and how I can frame my findings to provide recommendations to policymakers and other decision makers on how to make family life more equitable,” says McErlean. 

The application for organizations to participate in the summer 2023 CONNECT cohort is still open! Apply by March 17th or contact Alyssa Studer with any questions at alyssa.studer@austin.utexas.edu. Student applications to join the summer cohort will open on March 13th. 

Spring 2023 Organizations: 

  • Austin Pathways 

  • Communities for Recovery 

  • Connxus 

  • Community Engagement and Health Equity Division (CEHE), Dell Medical School 

  • Early Psychosis Intervention Network in Texas (EPINET-TX) 

  • Keep Austin Fed  

  • Merced Housing Texas 

  • Mission of Mercy 

  • No More, No Mas 

  • Outsiders Anonymous 

  • Prosperity Now 

  • RAISE Texas 

  • Texas Census Institute 

  • TransFORWARD 

  • Transit Forward 

  • Travis County Department of Transportation and Natural Resources, Community Resiliency Program  

  • Urban School Food Alliance 

  • West Texas Food Bank 


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