Early Career Mentoring and Research Capacity for the Baby’s First Years Study

8/1/2020 – 7/31/2022


The Baby’s First Years (BFY) intervention project tests the impact of direct poverty reduction by providing large or small cash gifts at random to 1,000 mother-child dyads between birth and child-age 52 months. This is the first random-assignment impact evaluation to test the impact of unconditional cash transfers in the first years of life.

In the words of the pre-doctoral student (Maritza Morales-Gracia): “The Brady foundation funding has given me the opportunity to work with and learn from an interdisciplinary team of U.S. scholars at various levels of their careers. Building connections with senior scholars has been an incredible opportunity to learn about the hidden curriculum both within and outside of academia trough transparent conversations and guidance. I have also built a network of fellow graduate students with similar interest, yet each coming from a unique perspective or field. As the first college graduate in my family building social capital and meaningful networks can significantly influence my professional growth. Additionally, I have expanded my communication skills and learned concrete strategies for strengthening proposals, such as, developing clear manageable research questions, determining
appropriate robustness checks and analytic plans, as well as efficient writing skills. My technical STATA coding abilities have also been strengthened over the course of my graduate student researcher experience. These were developed through tasks like data cleaning, quality assurance, and the development of user guides, codebooks, and survey instruments across several waves of the Baby’s First Years project. All these experiences led to a successful paper presentation which was part of a Baby’s First Years panel at the annual meetings of the Association of Public Policy Analysis and Management. My manuscript is a collaboration with a medical school student, thus, giving me first-hand experience working across fields. We plan to submit it to an interdisciplinary journal. Working on this paper has expanded my knowledge of the literature related to economic hardships of
low-income mothers trying to navigate employment, childcare, breastfeeding, and the social welfare policies that interconnect. Ultimately, the Brady Foundation has opened many doors and opportunities.”