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Grant Supports Clarke Resiliency Research

By Clarke News  |  September 16, 2021
Woman helping child with homework

Clarke University has received a $20,000 award from the James B. and Melita A. McDonough Foundation to support the Dubuque Youth and Family Resilience Project. The project is led by Assistant Professor of Social Work Jaimie O’Gara and Assistant Professor of Psychology Oliva Aspiras 

The year-long research project will study the impacts of COVID-19 on roughly 100 Dubuque area families’ brain health and physical wellbeing. Participating parents and caregivers will complete online surveys that ask questions about their experiences during COVID-19, family relationships, and community engagement to understand how these factors impact health and wellbeing. Families will be compensated for their time, as well as given resources as needed. Based on the findings, O’Gara and Aspiras hope to inform community schools and agencies of the processes and factors that promote youth and family resilience that can aid in the healing of all families in Dubuque as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Taking a strengths-based approach, the Dubuque Youth and Family Resilience Project aims to understand family strengths that are associated with resilient youth so that as a community – schools, non-profit agencies, religious institutions, etc. – we know how to effectively bolster such strengths through effective community action,” O’Gara said. “If we can understand the reasons why children and families are doing well despite adversity, we are better equipped to intervene as a community to ensure that all of our children and families thrive.”   

The research is a response to the significant adversity due to COVID-19 that impacts health and emotional wellbeing of youth and families. It is estimated that an additional 2.5 million children have entered poverty since May 2020 due to the pandemic, and parents have reported increased physical and verbal conflicts with children. Family members are also experiencing more anxiety and depression, which has a significant impact on overall health and wellness. 

Funding for the Dubuque Youth and Family Resilience Project is also pending through the Brain Health Fund and the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. Those interested in learning more about the study may contact Jaimie O’Gara by phone at 563-588-6645 or email at 

About the James B. and Melita A. McDonough Foundation 

The mission of the James B. and Melita A. McDonough Foundation is to promote charitable, educational and health-related activities and to especially provide such opportunities for children and families in Dubuque and the greater Eastern Iowa area, which includes Iowa counties of Dubuque, Delaware, Clayton, Jones, Jackson, Fayette, and Buchanan. The Foundation offers support to local non-profit organizations that provide educational opportunities, human and social services, and healthcare for children and their families.