Trina Shanks initiated a family mentoring program and introduced Individual Development Accounts to public housing residents.
In her current research, funded by the Ford Foundation, she is co-investigator for the SEED Impact Assessment study, which has set up a quasi-experimental research design to test the impact of offering Head Start families 529 college education plans for their enrolled children. She also oversees the evaluation of summer youth employment in Detroit.
Additional areas of research/scholarly interest: the relationship between assets, poverty and children's well-being; public policy for families; social and economic development, particularly in urban communities.
Shanks is a Rhodes Scholar and a former Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador where she worked in micro-enterprise development.