Who we are

The Center for Promise is the applied research institute of America’s Promise Alliance, housed at Boston University’s Wheelock College of Education & Human Development. Its mission is to develop a deep understanding of the conditions necessary for young people in the United States to succeed in school and life.

The Center for Promise produces rigorous mixed methods research for both academic and non-academic audiences. Its unique value as a research institute is its dedication to youth voice, whether by highlighting the voices and views of young people or working with youth to develop and implement research methods to study the issues affecting their lives. The Center’s work is grounded in the ‘youth systems’ and ‘positive youth development’ perspectives. 


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Our Work

Our current research areas include:

  • Relationships and the role they play in fostering positive youth development
  • Workforce development and career pathways
  • Experiences of young people who leave high school without graduating
  • The role of adversity in young people’s school and life outcomes
  • The interconnectedness of social, emotional, and academic development

Past research reports include Don’t Call Them Dropouts, Barriers to Wellness, and Disciplined and Disconnected. All of our research is available for free:

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More Than a Village: Perspectives on Re-engagement in Tucson is the second part of a two-part research series focused on high school re-engagement in Tucson, Arizona. 

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This report seeks to understand the barriers and supports to re-engagement for young people in Tucson, Arizona, by speaking directly with students who are in the process of re-engaging with their education.

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This report explores how students experience exclusionary discipline, why it leads them to disconnect from school, and the promising, non-exclusionary practices that exist.

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This is a retrospective look-back at the Center’s work over the past five years, focusing on young people’s lived experiences and examining the salience of relationships with caring and encouraging adults and peers to every young person’s healthy development.


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Students whose First Language is Not English (FLNE) make up the fastest growing segment of public school students across the country. In Massachusetts, one in five students is classified as FLNE. This report explores their experiences, challenges, and hopes for the future.


Explore more of our work