Dr. Marie Byrd

Dr. Marie Byrd

University of South Florida associate professor Marie Byrd has won a USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy Award for her research involving the social and emotional learning of Black girls. Byrd, the interim Sarasota-Manatee campus director for the College of Education, has focused her scholarship on the intersection of race and gender for school-aged Black girls and the resulting complexity of their social, emotional and academic development.

The WLP award, announced two weeks ago, stems from Byrd’s work involving an after-school program for K-6 children in an apartment complex in Sarasota. The program, developed by Byrd in October 2019 through a grant from United Way Suncoast, provides homework and reading support, social and emotional skills training and character building for the children.

The award comes as attention is shifting toward rising disciplinary rates of Black girls in comparison to boys and girls of other races and ethnicities. Nationally, Black girls experience discipline rates six times higher than White girls and suspension rates that are higher than 67 percent of boys, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights. Byrd said she intends to use the $5,000 WLP grant award to expand her research of social-emotional learning and examine the results of in-school and out-of-school programs nationwide.

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