Our Team

David Parker, Ph.D., Vice President of Research and Development


David leads research and evaluation, program innovation, and development of technical solutions for ServeMinnesota’s strategic initiatives that support at-risk learners: Minnesota Reading Corps and Minnesota Math Corps. Prior to this position, David served as a Master Coach and trainer for Minnesota Reading Corps, and he also has experience working as a school psychologist. He has a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota and specializes in the areas of instructionally-relevant assessment and interventions for struggling students. He has published his work in top journals in the fields of special education and school psychology, presented findings at national conferences, and conducted training sessions across the country.


Peter Nelson, Ph.D., Director of Research and Innovation


Peter engages with ServeMinnesota pilot programs and existing programs to ensure key principles of effective implementation and evidence-building occur. Before joining ServeMinnesota, Peter was an Assistant Professor of School Psychology at Penn State University. Formerly a high school teacher, he regularly publishes and presents research related to data-based decision making and academic intervention in the school setting. Peter serves on the editorial board for School Psychology Review, School Psychology Forum, and Assessment for Effective Intervention.   


Research Partners

David Klingbeil, Ph.D., Assistant Professor – School Psychology, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee

David is an experienced researcher in academic intervention and assessment. He provides expertise on new innovations and program improvement efforts.


Ethan Van Norman, Ph.D., Assistant Professor – School Psychology, Georgia State University


Funding Partners

Brady Education Foundation

The Brady Education Foundation seeks to close the achievement gap for children living in poverty by promoting collaboration between researchers and educators to assist children who are at risk of poor school outcomes.

In 2015, the Brady Education Foundation awarded ServeMinnesota a two-year grant to design and complete a randomized, controlled trial of Minnesota Math Corps. The results validate that combining the people power of AmeriCorps with effective math instruction puts students on the path to algebra proficiency. Math Corps students in grades 4-8 made gains in math skills that were significantly larger than students who did not participate. At the end of the study, Math Corps students were an average of 2-3 months ahead of their expected trajectory, narrowing or closing the gap between their beginning skill level and grade level goals. 


Laura and John Arnold Foundation

The Laura and John Arnold Foundation supports governments and nonprofit organizations in building the evidence base for social interventions and using reliable data to make decisions.

The Foundation has provided funding to continue rigorous evaluation of Math Corps. This study, conducted during the 2016-17 school year, will allow us to determine the impact of Math Corps on the probability of students’ attaining proficiency on the state test. Further, this year-long study will result in a more comprehensive understanding of the degree to which Math Corps contributes to closing the achievement gap. 


Innovative Approaches to Literacy Grant

The Innovative Approaches to Literacy Grant (IAL), through the U.S. Department of Education, is aimed at developing and improving literacy skills for children in high-need areas, directing resources to communities that need them most such as districts with high poverty rates and/or small rural schools. This two year grant has supported book distribution and expansion of our family engagement model, evaluation of Reading Corps in replication states, and creation of a national learning community around the school-wide outcomes and the potential of our embedded tutor model.


Social Innovation Fund

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The Social Innovation Fund (SIF), a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, invests in evidence-based programs and evaluations to find what works to solve problems in economic opportunity, health, and youth development.

SIF supported the pilot of a vocabulary intervention, MAVRIC. Evidence shows that students from lower-income families arrive at Kindergarten with a significant vocabulary gap. MAVRIC was designed to help close the gap through targeted intervention in K-1st grade. 


Corporation for National and Community Service – Planning Grant


ServeMinnesota was given an exciting opportunity to build out a component of Math Corps to expose students to STEM careers thanks to a planning grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). Through this grant, we will partner with local businesses in STEM fields of study to adopt a more comprehensive approach to generating student interest during the 2017-18 school year. Specifically, professionals from the field will share their experiences (current and past) with youth in the Math Corps program to expose students to STEM careers and create excitement about how math is used to solve real world problems.


W. K. Kellogg Foundation

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation provides support for programs promoting the health, happiness, and well-being of children, particularly vulnerable populations, so that they can reach their full potential.

In 2014, the foundation provided funding for a pilot to bring the proven Reading Corps program into Licensed Family Child Care centers. The program engages tutors, providers, and families in supporting the learning needs of each child. Tutors model interventions for providers, who also receive professional development to improve their caregiving. Families receive literacy activities and guidance to advocate for their children within the school system. Results from the first few years of implementation are impressive: 97% of children have shown growth in three of five literacy measures, indicating readiness for Kindergarten! Learn more about Licensed Family Child Care Reading Corps.