Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Education and Human Services


Family Science and Human Development

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Pauline Garcia-Reid

Committee Member

Robert J. Reid

Committee Member

Elizabeth Rivera Rodas


The disparities in education disproportionately facing Black and Hispanic adolescents, particularly those who attend low-income urban school districts, have far too often been examined through a deficit-based lens, in comparison to White middle-class adolescents. Such comparisons can overlook the cultural strengths of low-income Black and Hispanic adolescents and create a biased interpretation of educational and developmental research. Grounded in the Social Development Model and the Convoy Model of Social Networks, this study examines the interactions of parental support, peer support, school connectedness, and community organization as sources of strength, influencing academic achievement for low-income Black and Hispanic adolescents through a culturally sensitive, strength-based lens. Utilizing data collected from the Communities that Care (CTC) Youth Survey, influences of social support for Black (N = 78) and Hispanic (N = 228) adolescents were evaluated separately. Results revealed a direct effect of parental support, a partial effect of peer support, and a mediating effect of school connectedness on academic achievement. To allow for cultural strengths to be highlighted, findings from this study support the importance of examining academic achievement for low-income Black and Hispanic adolescents as separate and distinct without comparison to a White, middle-class control group. Implications for practice, policy, and future research are discussed.

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