Explore The Cities Projects



Basic Research Projects

Since 1996, members of the Cities Project team have been engaged in research designed to answer 12 questions about stress:

  1. What types of stressful life experiences do young people face?

  2. How can we best measure and conceptualize those stressful life experiences?

  3. Which types and what magnitude of stress exposure are associated with positive and negative health and learning outcomes for most children?

  4. Are there risk cut-points above which stress exposure typically leads to negative outcomes?

  5. Are there competence cut-points below which insufficient stress or challenge is present to promote learning and adaptive coping?

  6. Are there types of stress exposure that promote positive outcomes in some domains but negative outcomes in others?

  7. Do specific types of stressors predict specific types of outcomes?

  8. What biological, cognitive, and emotional processes mediate the relationship between stressful experiences and health and learning outcomes?

  9. What strengthens or weakens those relationships?

  10. What promotes growth despite high rates of stress exposure?

  11. Can severity or type of stressful life experience change the way children express psychological distress?

  12. How do stressors and protective factors influence each other over time and across development?

Studies examining these questions have been funded by grants from the William T. Grant Foundation, the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the National Institute of Mental Health. Papers summarizing study findings to date can be found here.

Intervention Development Projects

We are using the results of our basic research studies to guide the development of two prevention programs. Our findings suggest that individually-based coping strategies (e.g., actively doing something to try to change the problem) are not effective for urban youth exposed to severe and chronic stress, unless youth are supported by adults and connected to protective settings (e.g., positive community organizations). For this reason, the interventions we are developing not only teach research-based strategies for managing stress but also connect youth with supportive adults and protective settings.


How it Began

"I grew up in the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil, where the impact of poverty on children was in your face. At stop lights, children carrying babies would walk up to your car to beg for money. When I moved to Chicago, I realized that poverty and inequality are also common in the U.S. but we keep them better hidden. Chicago Public School students are much more likely to experience poverty and violence and much less likely to graduate from college than children in surrounding districts with more resources."

— Kathryn Grant, PhD. Founder


Our Team

Meet the key people behind The Cities Project!


Dr. kathryn grant

Dr. Grant is on faculty in the Psychology Department at DePaul University. She studies stress effects on adolescent development and looks for individual, interpersonal, and community resources that protect against negative (and promote positive) academic, behavioral, emotional, and social outcomes for young people. Dr. Grant received her PhD from the University of Vermont and completed her clinical internship at Stroger Hospital in Chicago.



Stacy is the Program Director for Cities Mentor Project and has been with The Cities Project for over five years. She is a current PhD student working towards her degree in clinical psychology at DePaul University. She serves as a clinical psychology extern and provides therapy (individual and group), as well as diagnostic assessments for AARTS clients. She is interested in deepening her knowledge about ASD, as well as becoming an advocate for the autism community.


Brittanie Gage

Brittanie is a Team Leader on the Evaluation Team, a Supervisor at Wentworth, and the Clinical Director for Wentworth. She is from Oak Park, IL and currently a second year in the General Psychology Masters Program at DePaul University. She joined Cities Project because of the commitment to helping urban youth create their own paths to success amidst hardships. Her current research interests include complex trauma and how that affects a child’s interpersonal relationships. Her favorite part of Cities Project is seeing relationships between mentees and their college mentors evolve over time. 

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Keturah Platt

Keturah was born and raised in Oakland, California and is currently in the Clinical-Community Psychology Ph.D. program, here at DePaul University. She loves to drink tea and cheesecake is her favorite dessert. She is a part of The Cities Project because of the awesome kids that are a part of our program. Their personalities are one of a kind and it's a joy to work with them to develop coping skills for their overall well-being. She also love observing the positive interactions between mentors and mentees!


Molly Cory

Molly is a Team Leader on the Evaluation Team. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Alabama in 2016. Throughout her undergraduate career, she was engaged in a variety of research areas, starting in cognitive research labs before migrating to clinical and developmental work. After joining The Cities Project, she finally found her fit with mentoring interventions for at-risk ethnic minority youth. She is now interested in applying such interventions in a way that mitigates the effects of daily stressors, involves the community at every step of the process, and addresses multiple facets of health to best promote youth development.