Trina R. 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 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 (Palgrave Macmillan). She has been a research investigator for the Saving for Education, Entrepreneurship, and Downpayment, or SEED, demonstration and consults with several other child savings account initiatives. She was part of a team funded by the Skillman Foundation over 10 years to actively engage with six Detroit communities as part of the foundation’s Good Neighborhoods Initiative. She has also conducted multiple evaluations of Detroit’s summer youth employment program, Grow Detroit’s Young Talent.
Shanks has a master’s degree in comparative social research from the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. She has a doctoral degree in social work from Washington University in St. Louis.
Shanks is currently the Harold R. Johnson collegiate professor of social work and director of community engagement at the University of Michigan School of Social Work. She is also one of the national network coleads for the Grand Challenge to Reduce Extreme Economic Inequality.