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The North Carolina Poverty Research Fund grew out of the BOG-mandated closure of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity. Established in 2015, its goal is to study and document the lived experience of poverty and the policies that affect it. This effort is housed at the UNC School of Law and is headed by Gene Nichol, Boyd Tinsley Distinguished Professor of Law.


The NC Poverty Research Fund is a non-partisan, interdisciplinary initiative designed to study, examine, document, and advocate for proposals, policies and services to mitigate poverty in North Carolina.

The Fund has three goals:

  1. To address the pressing needs of those currently living at or below the poverty level in North Carolina
  2. To raise public awareness of issues related to work and poverty
  3. To train a new generation to combat the causes and effects of poverty and to improve the circumstances of working people


Gene Nichol
Boyd Tinsley Distinguished Professor of Law

Gene Nichol is professor of law at the University of North Carolina. He teaches courses in constitutional law, federal courts, civil rights and election law.

Read a complete profile of Gene Nichol.

Heather Hunt

A Yankee import that has called North Carolina home since high school, Heather is proud to work on behalf of the Fund and low income folks across the state. Heather is a graduate of Columbia College in New York. She is a double Tar Heel, with a law degree and a master's in city and regional planning from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Research Fellow

Allison De Marco

Allison De Marco is an Investigator at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute and Adjunct Faculty at the School of Social Work at UNC-CH. Her research focuses on poverty, neighborhood effects, work and family, child care, and well-being for residents of rural communities. She serves as PI of a project focusing on child care subsidy use in rural counties in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. She is also examining the impact of the recession on the employment experiences of rural families in the Family Life Project, a unique, representative sample of rural families in six low-wealth counties in Pennsylvania and North Carolina who were followed longitudinally from the birth of one of their children. Recently she has become interested in asset development among low-income communities of color and has been leading evaluation efforts for a model program in North Carolina. She earned her PhD in Social Welfare from University of California, Berkeley, her MSW from the University of Southern California, and her BA from UCLA. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the Family Research Consortium IV at Penn State.

Dr. De Marco serves on several community organizations related to poverty and social justice. She serves on the Leadership Team of the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness, the steering committee for Orange County's Project Connect, an initiative of the Partnership, and is an organizer with the Fair Jobs and Wages Research Team of Orange County Justice United, an Industrial Areas Foundation-affiliated community organizing organization. She also volunteers with the Organizing Against Racism Alliance and serves as a field instructor for UNC's Community Empowerment Fund, a relationship-based asset-development program for low-income residents of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, North Carolina.

UNC School of Law | Van Hecke-Wettach Hall | 160 Ridge Road, CB #3380 | Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380 | 919.962.5106 | Accessibility

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