Trina Shanks is a nonresident fellow in the Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population at the Urban Institute. An expert on asset building and community economic development, she has published and spoken extensively on child savings accounts, youth employment, the racial wealth gap, comprehensive community change efforts, the effect of poverty and wealth on child outcomes, and historical policy such as the Homestead Act.
Shanks is currently an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work. She is a coauthor of two books: A Twenty-First Century Approach to Community Change: Partnering to Improve Life Outcomes for Youth and Families in Under-Served Neighborhoods (Oxford University Press) and The Assets Perspective: The Rise of Asset Building and its Impact on Social Policy. She has been a research investigator for the Saving for Education, Entrepreneurship, and Downpayment (SEED) demonstration and consults with several other child savings account initiatives. She was part of a team funded by the Skillman Foundation over a ten-year period to actively engage with six Detroit communities as part of its Good Neighborhoods program. She has also conducted multiple evaluations of Detroit’s Summer Youth Employment Program, Grow Detroit’s Young Talent. Shanks is currently one of the national network coleads for the Social Work Grand Challenge: Reversing Extreme Economic Inequality. She recently joined the Social Work Grand Challenges Executive Committee.
She has a PhD in social work from Washington University in St. Louis and a master’s in comparative social research from the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.