Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Education


Education and Human Services

First Advisor

Galletta, Anne

Subject Headings

Education, Educational Sociology


This qualitative case study researched how adults from a community center and school acted as institutional agents in assisting youth navigating between community and school settings. The research was conducted in the context of Chagrin Falls Park, a historically marginalized community in the Cleveland metropolitan region. The research included semi-structured interviews with eleven participants across three participant categories, including institutional agents from Kenston Local Schools and Chagrin Falls Park Community Center and young adult Kenston graduates. The research explored: (1) the perceptions and roles of institutional agents in how Black youth construct identities, relationships, and navigate between institutional and community spaces within the sociological and historical context of Chagrin Falls Park; (2) how the racial-identity of adults influences their relationship with youth; and (3) whether institutional agents act as empowerment agents, viewing their role as providing access to social capital for Chagrin Falls Park youth and/or working against the tendency of schools to reproduce inequality (Stanton-Salazar, 2010). The research found that adults from both Kenston Local Schools and Chagrin Falls Park Community Center acted as institutional agents in supporting Chagrin Falls Park students, but rarely questioned institutional policies that reproduced inequality. Findings support the importance of adults acting on behalf of historically marginalized youth, and underscore the potential when agents from multiple institutions work together to support youth.

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