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Carol McElvain

Pronouns: She/Her

Senior Research Scientist
Carol is a nationally recognized expert on afterschool programming and community schooling.

Carol has deep experience in a wide variety of K-12 school improvement efforts for the highest poverty communities across the country covering a range of topics from policy development, network and capacity building to overall improvement processes. Her depth of technical assistance and professional learning knowledge consistently informs the development of national, state, and local education activities. 

Carol has more than 22 years of experience in complex project management and government contracting at the district, state, and federal levels. The focus of her work at NORC is leading projects using culturally responsive and inclusive practices to document best practices in college mentorship programming, distance learning practices, and improvement efforts in Bureau of Indian Education schools during COVID and beyond, and building capacity for state and national grantees under a variety of school improvement programs. 

She is currently leading a project to document impact stories from participants in the Kauffman Scholars Initiative college and career mentorship program. She also has led efforts to document American Rescue Plan funding initiatives in districts nationwide to provide schools and districts with stronger support for their improvement efforts. 

The key focus of Carol’s work is to provide support for school improvement efforts for the highest poverty schools throughout the country by identifying the best practices in research and translating the findings into tools, professional learning, and policy development to implement those findings. She is particularly expert on whole school and community change practices that build on assets and better link services to provide deeper impact and broader services to those who need it most. She has led statewide network building efforts and is a sought-after public speaker on a variety of school improvement programs, including afterschool programming and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. Carol has also provided coaching to school turnaround and promise neighborhood efforts.



University of Wisconsin-Madison


University of Wisconsin-Madison

Honors & Awards

Most Influential in Research and Evaluation | 2018

National Afterschool Association

Project Contributions

Kauffman Scholars Evaluation

Analyzing the ripple effect of a 20-year-old college scholarship and mentorship program in Kansas City


Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Assessing Distance Learning for the Bureau of Indian Education

Understanding how best to reach and teach students who lack broadband service


Bureau of Indian Education