Stephen Baker


Dr. Stephen Baker is a Researcher at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. His current work concentrates on programs supporting social and emotional learning for children and youth within the formal school system as well as affiliated and complementary nonprofit organizations. Baker is the principal external researcher for a U.S. Department of Education Investing in Innovations grant to support the development and evaluation of a mindfulness and self-regulation intervention in 30 Chicago Public Schools. This research seeks to establish links between teacher training in mindfulness, new student self-regulation practices, attention restoration tools, and improved classroom climates and individual student academic achievement. In addition, Baker is developing research on the contributions of improvisation in school settings.

Baker has served as Researcher and Project Director on a range of positive youth development evaluation projects. These include the local Chicago implementation of a national community-school project to add health clinics, afterschool activities, and other resources to middle schools (Chicago Elev8); a Palm Beach County initiative to implement a quality improvement system for after school programs while implementing innovative professional development and field-building activities (PrimeTime); and a ten-year project across Chicago neighborhoods to increase developmental resources in resource-deprived neighborhoods and link these deep-end services (Children, Youth, and Families Initiative). Baker has evaluated programs in many other learning and developmental settings as well, including early childhood in public schools, community-based youth safety and well-being programs, youth out-of-school-time opportunities across more than fifty nonprofit providers, and a multiyear partnership between elementary schools and an early childhood center.

Baker holds a PhD and Master of Science in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Science in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University.

Doctor of Philosophy in Social Service Administration, the University of Chicago

Master of Science in Social Service Administration, the University of Chicago

Bachelor of Science in Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University

Baker, S. A. (2011, November). Practical and normative challenges in efforts to align school and afterschool program activities: The Elev8 Initiative. Paper presented at APPAM Research Conference, Washington, DC.

Baker, S. A. (2011, February). The Palm Beach County Afterschool Educator Certificate: A comprehensive approach to empowering the afterschool professional. Presented at Beyond School Hours Conference, Atlanta, GA.

Baker, S.A. (2010, November) Multiple sites, multiple layers, multiple players: Lessons from the field on keeping quality high and frustration low. Panel presentation, American Evaluation Association Conference, San Antonio, TX.

Baker, S. A., & Spielberger, J. (2008, June). Getting ready for school: Views of school readiness among parents, teachers, and administrators. Poster presented at the Head Start National Research Conference, Washington, DC.

Baker, S. A., & Daro, D. (2007, January). Creating a community approach to child protection: Considerations and challenges. Presented at San Diego International Conference on Child and Family Maltreatment, San Diego, CA.

Baker, S. A. (2006, June). Worker decisions to use a family meeting: A qualitative study. Presented at American Humane Association Conference on Family Group Decision Making, San Antonio, TX.

Baker, S. A. (2004, September). Caseworker decisions to use a family conference. Presented at ISPCAN, Brisbane, Australia.

Baker, S. A. (2002, May-July). Evaluating community partnerships. Presentations to National Council on State Legislatures tours of CPPC activities in Cedar Rapids, IA and Louisville, KY.

Baker, S.A. (1997, September). Evaluating program impact. Evaluation workshop at Communities in Schools’ National Conference, Detroit, MI.

Solomon Lichter Memorial Award, University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration, 1993

Baker, S., & Rich, L. (2011). Evaluating integration in Elev8. The Journal of the Institute for Comprehensive Community Development, 2(1). Available at

Baker, S. (2011). Making the most of the work of an outside evaluator. Afterschool Today, 2(1).

Baker, S. (2011). External evaluation: Seeking an evaluator. Afterschool Today, 1(4).

Sinisterra, D. & Baker, S. (2010). A system that works: Highlights of effective intervention strategies in a quality improvement system. Afterschool Matters, (12), 37-44.