Wong headshot

Emerson Fellow

Karen Wong

12th Class, 2005-2006

Field Placement: Hunger Task Force (Milwaukee, WI)

Karen conducted an assessment of a universal school meal (Provision 2) pilot program in its first year at six low-income Milwaukee elementary schools.  Through interviews with students, parents, school officials, and district officials, she examined the effect of the Provision 2 pilot on factors such as student learning, behavior, and health.  Furthermore, Karen gathered data to analyze the impact of the pilot on breakfast participation rates.  In addition to conducting this evaluation, Karen collaborated with school and district officials in outreach efforts to ensure a high return of school meal applications, used toward reimbursement funding for the program.

Hunger Free Community Report:

Evaluation of the 2005-2006 Provision 2 Pilot in Milwaukee Public Schools highlights key findings from the evaluation of Milwaukee’s Provision 2 pilot and is being used to inform considerations regarding future universal free meal expansion in Milwaukee.  The report discusses how students and families were affected by the availability of free school meals, the relationship between serving breakfast in the classroom and breakfast participation increases, and outcomes from meal application outreach efforts.

Policy Placement:  Volunteers of America (Alexandria, VA)

Karen worked to evaluate the federal homeless assistance grant program.  She analyzed federal data regarding the utilization of these federal monies to fund programs serving the homeless.  Karen also interviewed service providers across the country to assess the relationship between the current federal grant policy and impact on local homeless programs’ ability to assist all homeless populations.

Pre-Fellowship Education and Experience:

Karen graduated in 2005 from Pomona College with a degree in psychology.  Her senior thesis examined the impact of positive stereotype expectations on academic performance of Cambodian American students.  She also edited for publication an assessment of a community health intervention within an immigrant community, created a best-practices guideline for non-profit capacity building programs, and evaluated Kids Café programming as part of the United Way staff.  Karen’s community–based involvement includes volunteering as a caseworker to assist single mothers in obtaining services, employment and housing; serving as a day camp teacher for low income children; ministering to women recovering from substance abuse; and leading discussions among college students about race, class and gender.