Race, Inequality & Social Mobility

The mission of the Collaboration on Race, Inequality, and Social Mobility in America (CRISMA) is to delineate the ways in which inequality and structural racism  affect racial/ethnic disparities in achievement, life chances, social and economic mobility, and health in the United States.

Social mobility has been described as “movement which places an adult person into a social world that significantly differs from the one into which she or he was socialized during childhood” (Sellers, 2001.) Upward social mobility is perhaps the most critical aspect of the American Dream. Education is considered the key vehicle to upward social mobility in the United States. However, structural racism, defined as “the macrolevel systems, social forces, institutions, ideologies, and processes that interact with one another to generate and reinforce inequities among racial and ethnic groups,” creates deeply entrenched inequality (Gee & Ford, 2011). This inequality is critical in regard to neighborhood and education quality, and undermines chances of upward social mobility for people of color.

Building youth resilience. Adolescence is a time of exploration, newfound sense of autonomy, and change. This stage of life may be stressful for some youth, particularly those with fewer resources (e.g. personal and cultural assets, ecological resources) which can induce maladaptive coping processes. This work explores the relationship between psychological well-being and academic achievement among youth populations most likely to experience ecological risk factors, and identifies factors that lead to youth resilience.

Bringing together scholars from multiple disciplines, including psychology, public health and social work, CRISMA examines the impact of inequality and structural racism on people of color in the United States. 


Projects focus on building resilience, exploring costs of upward social mobility, costs of mental health, and the psychosocial and environmental factors related to health and well-being across the life course.