West Chester University, in Partnership with WolfBrown, to Receive $149,819 Award from the National Endowment for the Arts

West Chester, PA —West Chester University, in partnership with WolfBrown in Cambridge, MA, has been approved for a $149,819 NEA Research Lab award to support the founding of the Research on Equity via the Arts in Childhood (REACH) Lab. This project will support a group of studies to trace the potential effects of various musical interventions on early childhood development.


“The National Endowment for the Arts is pleased to welcome West Chester University and its partners into the network of labs across the country that are doing important work in this very challenging year,” said Director of Research & Analysis Sunil Iyengar. “West Chester University is among research institutions that have pledged to investigate the impact of the arts on greater society.”


“Music and the arts cannot guarantee equality, nor can they undo the root causes of inequality, such as poverty and racism, but they may have the potential to counter some of the toxic effects of these forms of adversity on young children,” said investigator Ellie Brown, a Professor of Psychology at West Chester University, “I’m thrilled that we have the opportunity to advance scientific understanding of how music can contribute to our shared goals of equity.”


The REACH Lab’s multidisciplinary team includes investigators with expertise in clinical child psychology, developmental neurophysiology, and arts education, who will study the impact of music on self-regulation for children at risk via poverty, neurophysiological mechanisms of impact, and behavioral interactions linked to these effects. In collaboration with leading arts organizations such as Carnegie Music Hall, World Cafe Live, and Free Library of Philadelphia, REACH will develop a website, quarterly blog posts, a biennial convening, scholarly products, and applied tools, and will engage researchers, policymakers, and practitioners to consider how music and the arts can mitigate poverty risk and promote equity.


Drs. Eleanor Brown (West Chester University), Dennie Palmer Wolf (WolfBrown), and Steven Holochwost (WolfBrown) will serve as a multidisciplinary team of Principal Investigators (PIs). They are joined by Tarrell Davis (Kaleidoscope Program). Other key contributors to the project include staff members from Carnegie Music Hall, World Cafe Live, and Free Library of Philadelphia.

For more information on projects included in the Arts Endowment grant announcement, visit arts.gov/about/news.


About West Chester University: WCU is the largest university in the PA State System and is well known for a focus on music and the arts. The Early Childhood Cognition and Emotions Lab (ECCEL) of the Psychology Department at West Chester University (WCU) will lead this project. Directed by Dr. Ellie Brown, ECCEL and its community partners study creative arts approaches for alleviating effects of poverty-related stress and trauma. To learn more, visit: https://www.wcupa.edu/sciences-mathematics/psychology/PsychologyDepartmentGrantSite/ECCEL.aspx


About WolfBrown: WolfBrown helps funders, nonprofit institutions, and public agencies understand their potential, set priorities, and fulfill their promise. At the heart of WolfBrown’s work is the belief that every human being has a unique creative voice of intrinsic worth and that every community has a responsibility to awaken, nurture, and sustain its cultural capital. To learn more, visit https://www.wolfbrown.com/.