Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Loretta Quigley, EdD

Second Supervisor

Rhoda Overstreet-Wilson, EdD


This qualitative, interpretative phenomenological study investigated how Black women, with experience residing in areas of concentrated Black poverty in Syracuse, New York between the ages of 25 and 34, understood, generated, and utilized the social capital within their networks. The research also sought to understand these women’s perspectives regarding the role of network social connections in their economic mobility. Four one-on-one interviews were conducted and, through the lens of networking social capital theory, revealed significant themes, including the role of proximity in relationship dynamics, access points such as educational institutions and workplaces, and the influence of guidance and character congruency in accessing and using connections for upward mobility. This study also highlighted the importance of intention, purpose, psychological states, and technology in shaping relationships. Recommendations stemming from these findings advise leaders, lawmakers, nonprofits, and community organizations to recognize individuality, prioritize genuine leadership, operationalize social capital in programs, create and invest in spaces where diverse individuals can engage with each other, and leverage mentorship and sponsorship effectively. By delving into Black women’s experiences, this study addressed a methodological gap in the literature by directly exploring Black women’s experiences with social capital and its connection to economic mobility. It sheds light on how individuals’ intersectional identities play a role in constructing diverse networks that may lead to upward mobility for themselves and others to whom they are connected.

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