USF RISES is a research project that explores school suspensions and the extent to which perceptions of racism or differential treatment are held by African American adolescents with multiple school suspensions occurring between August 2019 to present, and families and community members.


Our Goal

We seek to understand and address systemic racism using culturally responsive and transdisciplinary research approaches that capitalize on our existing authentic partnerships with three African American community entities in Tampa, Florida.

Research Design and Methodology

RISES is a mixed-methods study that addresses the long-standing phenomenon of out-of-school suspensions and school pushout resulting in African American middle and high school adolescents dropping out of school before graduation and entering the school-to-prison pipeline (Townsend Walker, 2020).


100 Survey Participants

Surveying 100 Middle and H.S. African American students.


300 Focus Group Participants

The focus groups are comprised of 50 students, 25 parents, and 25 community members for each of the three sites.

The overarching research questions are:

  • To what extent do African Americans attribute school suspensions to racism?
  • How do African Americans process police officers’ practices and school resource
    officers’ presence and practices in schools?
  • What recommendations do African Americans have for teachers and principals to
    be more effective?

Potential Impact

The RISES research project has the potential to improve the lives of the Black community. The RISES research study will have significant impact on not just the African American community, but also on teachers, principals, and other school personnel, including teachers in juvenile justice settings. Themes from Insights and recommendations gleaned from the participants will be disseminated to schools and colleges of education teacher education programs. Academic and lay audience venues are targeted (manuscripts for publication, radio spots, African American and mainstream news outlets, conference presentations, and research to practice briefs)

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Community Partners

Our transdisciplinary research team partnered with Allen Temple AME Church, the Hillsborough County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa, Inc. (CDC) (all situated in high-populated African American communities) to recruit 400 African American participants and provide technology/internet for any participant who cannot access our website and Microsoft TEAMs links in their homes.


Timeline and Participants

Long overdue, this one year, three-phased study is compelled by the recent civil unrest and resounding calls to eradicate racism in schools.



Phase I

September - November 2021

  • Develop website
  • Develop survey and focus group protocols


    Phase II

    December 2021 - March 2022

  • Conduct 40 focus groups using Microsoft TEAMS
  • Conduct surveys


    Phase III

    April - August 2022

  • Analyze and disseminate data
  • Prepare final report

    The 400 participants will receive a $25 gift card as an incentive for participating in the surveys and focus groups. These funds are made possible in collaboration with the University of South Florida and the Allen Temple AME Church.

    Register Here