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Demontea Thompson Awarded Ford Foundation Fellowship

By John McDonald
Demontea Thomson
Demontea Thompson

Urban Schooling graduate student explores how schools and colleges can facilitate success for marginalized students in the child welfare and justice system.

Demontea Thompson, a doctoral student at the UCLA School of Education and Information Studies, has been named a recipient of the Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship. In his research, Thompson, a second-year student in the Urban Schooling division, is exploring how schools and colleges can facilitate success for marginalized students, particularly those who have had interactions with the child welfare and justice system. The fellowship will support Thompson’s work to counter the master narrative about students with foster care experience and center their voices in education literature.  

“Being a Ford Fellow gives me the gift of time to focus on my research and other professional development opportunities such as teaching and conference presentations,” he says.

Thompson is also a doctoral researcher at the UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools.  Currently, he co-leads a landscape study across all 58 California counties with multiple phases of research, exploring existing educational barriers and the underlying factors to explain success stories for foster youth from early education to higher education. He is also engaged in research projects for the UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families.

The prestigious Ford Fellowships are awarded through a national competition administered by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on behalf of the Ford Foundation.  The awards are “made to individuals who, in the judgment of the review panels, have demonstrated superior academic achievement, are committed to a career in teaching and research at the college or university level in the U.S., show promise of future achievement as scholars and teachers, and are well prepared to use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students,” according to a Ford Foundation fact sheet.  

The Fellowships seek to increase the diversity of the nation’s college and university faculties and maximize the educational benefits of diversity. This year the Foundation is awarding approximately 75 pre-doctoral fellowships.  The awards provide an annual stipend for three years.  Recipients are invited to attend the Conference of Ford Fellows and access a network of current and former fellowship recipients.    

“I am grateful to have been selected as a Ford Predoctoral Fellow,” says Thompson. “This opportunity enables me to access the social capital and supports needed to reach my goal of becoming a tenure-track professor. The mentorship through the shared community of Ford Fellows and other resources will allow me to enhance my scholarship and make an impact through research and service at UCLA and beyond.” 

Thompson’s Ford Foundation Fellowship commences in September 2022.