Colleen Dawicki

Director of the Urban Initiative at UMass-Dartmouth

  • B.A., Public and Private Sector Organizations, Brown University (2006)
  • Public Policy Fellow, Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at the Harvard Kennedy School (2011)
  • Master's of Public Policy, UMass Dartmouth (2012)

Since joining the Urban Initiative in 2010, Colleen has provided community partners with technical assistance, program evaluations, public outreach and engagement, and applied research in the areas of education, transportation, and community development.

Recent projects Dawicki has managed or contributed to include a program evaluation of dropout prevention efforts in Springfield, MA public schools; a study of public transit needs and perceptions in New Bedford; a study on collaborative opportunities for school districts and higher education in Berkshire County; serving as evaluator for a HOPE VI (public housing) project in Taunton, MA. She has also been fostering closer ties to local communities by sharing information through a monthly newsletter and a blog on urban policy issues and their local application (

As a strategic partner of the NDPC/N since 2009, the UMass Dartmouth Urban Initiative has gained tremendously from the opportunity to integrate our comprehensive approach to urban policy analysis with the vast knowledge and skills of the NDPC/N for the benefit of schools, districts, and cities across our region. Across the diverse communities in which we’ve worked together to serve, one thing holds constant: context matters. The decision to drop out doesn’t happen in isolation; instead, it can be affected by factors as wide-ranging as housing access and affordability, transportation, economic opportunity, and public safety. This holistic perspective, along with my experience working with the NDPC/N to evaluate dropout prevention programs and disseminate best practices, will be among my contributions as a NDPC Fellow. I look forward to working with the team of NDPC Fellows to broaden the reach of the NDPC/N in its efforts to increase high school graduation rates nationwide.

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