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There is no ‘I’ in a ‘Team’ that secures a new $1.17M NSF grant

CPERL and NLP lab

There is no 'I' in 'team'. We are very excited to share that we have teamed up to earn funding through the National Science Foundation (NSF) Smart and Connected Communities initiative, for the project, titled: SCC-IRG Track 2: Smart and Connected Family Engagement for Equitable Early Intervention Service Design. This is a $1.17M grant over three years to culturally adapt, personalize, and evaluate an electronic tool that engages early intervention (EI) families in assessing and planning interventions that improve young children’s participation in valued activities.

The project scope has been poignantly described as 'all things UIC'. We take an interdisciplinary approach to conducting innovative team science and building research capacity, while leveraging authentic community partnership to co-create evidence that may help to mitigate known social disparities in EI access and service use.

Our interdisciplinary team includes a robust academic-community research partnership across multiple departments and colleges, institutions, states, and countries. At UIC, CPERL team members Mary Khetani, Vera Kaelin, and Vivian Villegas join forces with NLP team members Natalie Parde and Mina Valizadeh, and Yi-Fan Chen in our CCTS. UIC team members will closely partner with Jodi Litfin and colleagues in the High Value Early Intervention Research Group at Rocky Mountain Human Services in Colorado to meet project deliverables. This academic-community research partnership has been shaped by our CCTS Community Engagement Core as recently highlighted. The project team is further diversified through international collaboration, drawing on web development expertise at Wegile in India and knowledge translation expertise at CanChild in Canada. We also extend thanks to our grants management support teams in Computer Science and Applied Health Sciences, whose talent and tenacity made this submission possible during our COVID-19 pandemic.

This grant holds many layers of meaning for its team members, including the start date for funding marking 10 years since Mary began her academic career and 20 years since she began working in EI as a Level IIA Fieldwork Student. After collaborating via Zoom and email this past year, and before diving into the project, it was a treat to celebrate with the first CPERL-NLP joint lab outdoor gathering in Chicago's Little Italy!