Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Program Name/Specialization

Community Psychology


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Geoffrey Nelson

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


The current research documented the processes and outcomes of an educational access program for women living in poverty at the individual and organizational level of analysis. The purpose of this study was to understand barriers, strategies to reduce barriers and outcomes achieved by a grassroots program: Supporting the University-Ready through Empowerment (SURE). The 12 participants consisted of three women learners of the SURE program, three SURE co-directors (including myself), three university partners and three community partners. Life narrative interviews were conducted with the learners with structured interviews conducted with all other informants. Additionally, focus groups were run with the SURE team (a team consisting of learners and directors), as well as a structured researcher journaling process. The findings address two separate research questions: What are the processes and outcomes of SURE at the (a) individual and (b) organizational level? At the individual level, barriers to the learners, direct and indirect strategies to reduce barriers, and outcomes (positive, negative and outcomes yet to be achieved) for the learners, family members and other women in the learners community were found. At the organizational level, barriers to the program, university, government and societal level were found with little focus on strategies to reduce barriers at this level. Within the organizational level, achieved outcomes and outcomes yet to be achieved are reported. The findings are interpreted through an empowerment lens utilizing current understanding of empowered and empowering individuals/organizations. The interrelations and connections between different levels of empowerment are explained using ecological and empowerment theory, and future research is proposed.

Convocation Year