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Melinda Lewis

Associate Professor of the Practice
Primary office:
785-864-1047
Twente Hall
Room 312


Summary

Melinda Lewis, LMSW, received her Master of Social Work degree from Washington University in St. Louis, MO. She worked as a nonprofit policy advocate, grassroots organizer, and community researcher for several years and is now an Associate Professor of Practice in the School of Social Welfare, teaching social policy and community practice courses at the University of Kansas. She is the Assistant Director for the Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion (AEDI), advancing policy based on research into the role of assets in addressing educational inequities and catalyzing upward mobility. At AEDI, Ms. Lewis contributes to reports on student debt, Children's Savings Accounts, and asset policy; assists with research around the country on CSAs; and translates AEDI's research into strategic communications with policymakers and other stakeholders. She recently coauthored (with KU's Dr. William Elliott) the book, The Real College Debt Crisis: How Student Borrowing Threatens Financial Well-Being and Erodes the American Dream. She can be found on Twitter @melindaklewis.

Teaching

Melinda Lewis teaches primarily social policy, community organization, and advocacy practice courses, mainly in the MSW program (Foundation and SWWAP concentration) within the School of Social Welfare

Teaching Interests

  • Policy Analysis
  • Advocacy
  • Poverty and Economic Justice
  • Community Organizing
  • Social Change
  • Higher Education and Economic Mobility

Research

As Assistant Director of the Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion (AEDI), Lewis studies asset-based strategies for improving educational outcomes and restoring higher education as an arbiter of equity and social mobility. She communicates AEDI research to policymakers and practitioners, with a goal of leveraging a public commitment to asset empowerment and equitable opportunities for upward mobility, through the mechanism of educational attainment, for a generation of American children.

Research Interests

  • Asset-based strategies for restoring higher education as a catalyst for economic mobility
  • Financial aid reform
  • Economic inequality
  • Strategies for effective policy advocacy by nonprofit organizations
  • Advocacy evaluation
  • And advocacy capacity-building for individuals and social service organizations.

Service

As a Truman Scholar, Ms. Lewis serves on the University of Kansas' Truman Scholar selection committee, mentoring applicant Scholars on their career plans and policy proposals. Ms. Lewis also mentors adjunct faculty and GTAs in the School of Social Welfare's policy courses. Off campus, Ms. Lewis advises nonprofit organizations on policy advocacy, advocacy strategy evaluation, and coalition-building for successful social change.

Selected Publications

Lewis, M. (in press). Instructor Resources. Social Policy for Effective Practice: A Strengths Approach: New Directions in Social Work: Routledge.

Elliott, W. & Lewis, M. (2015). Student debt effects on financial wellbeing: Research and policy implications. Journal of Economic Surveys, 29(4). DOI:10.1111/joes.12124

Elliott, W. & Lewis, M. (2015). The real college debt crisis: How student borrowing threatens financial well-being and erodes the American dream. , Broomfield, CO: Praeger.

Elliott, W. & Lewis, M. (2015). Transforming 529s into Children's Savings Accounts: The Promise Indiana Model.

Lewis, M. & Elliott, W. (2015). A Regional Approach to Children's Savings Accounts: The Case of New England.

Elliott, W. & Lewis, M. (2015). Does parents’ college savings reduce college debt? In Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review

Lewis, M. Elliott, W. Cramer, R. & Spraque, A. (2014). Policies to Promote Economic Stability, Asset Building, and Child Development. Children and Youth Services Review, 36, 15-21. DOI:10.1016/j.childyouth.2013.10.012

Elliott, W. & Lewis, M. (2014). Unequal outcomes: Student loan effects on young adults’ net worth accumulation. Lawrence, KS: Assets and Education Initiative.

Lewis, M. & Elliott, W. (2014). Examining the Canadian Education Savings System and its Implications for U.S. Children’s Savings Account (CSA) Policy . Lawrence, KS: Assets and Education Initiative.

Elliott, W. & Lewis, M. (2014). The student debt problem in America: It is not enough to say, “students will eventually recover”. Lawrence, KS: Assets and Education Initiative.

Elliott, W. & Lewis, M. (2014). Harnessing assets to build an economic mobility system: Reimagining the American welfare system. Lawrence, KS: Assets and Education Initiative.

Lewis, M. Cramer, R. Elliott, W. & Spraque, A. (2013). Policies to promote economic stability, asset building, and child development. Children and Youth Services Review, 36, 15-21.

Lewis, M. Elliott, E. Cramer, R. & Black, R. (2013). Policy Discussion. The Biannual Report on the Assets and Education Field

Elliott, W. & Lewis, M. (2013). Student Loans are Widening the Wealth Gap: Time to Focus on Equity. Lawrence, KS: Assets and Education Initiative.

Lewis, M. (2013). Saving for Education Improves Outcomes, Evidence Shows.

Lewis, M. & Weatherford, H. (2012). Circus in Topeka. Kansas City Star.

Lewis, M. (2010). Instructor Resources. Social Policy for Effective Practice: A Strengths Approach: New Directions in Social Work: Routledge.

Lewis, M. (2008). Familias in the Heartland: Exploration of the Social, Economic, and Cultural Realities of Latino Immigrants. Families in Society , 89(2), 193-201.

Carden, M. (2001). Service learning and older adults . St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.


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