Jonathan F. Zaff, Ph.D. is a Research Professor in Applied Human Development at the Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development, and the Director of the CERES Institute for Children and Youth.
The CERES Institute exists to drive positive educational and life conditions for children and youth, especially those in historically disenfranchised communities, so that they may emerge from childhood as thriving adults. To accomplish this, we conduct, support, and promote community-engaged, applied research and evaluation on positive educational and developmental ecosystems for today’s children and youth. We are intentional about presenting insights that are clear and actionable, and passionate about informing, influencing, and inspiring those who have the courage and the power to act: public leaders, influencers, educators, and parents.
Prior to his current role, Dr. Zaff was the founding executive director of the Center for Promise and on the leadership team for America’s Promise Alliance. Using a positive youth development framework, Dr. Zaff’s research has included studies, among others, of youth-focused comprehensive community initiatives, civic engagement, and the social and emotional competencies of young people who have left high school without graduating. Over the past few years, his projects have focused on the role that multiple relationships in a young person’s life (a “web of support”) and the multiple institutions within which they learn and grow can encourage their academic, vocational, and civic engagement and success, particularly those young people who are off track in school and life.
The results of his work have appeared in numerous peer-reviewed journals, books, and practitioner- and policy-focused reports. He is also a frequent presenter at local, national, and international conferences, as well as conducting trainings with practitioners and policy advocates.