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Beth Caldwell


Augusta, GA

Originally from Augusta, Georgia, Beth graduated as a member of Phi Beta Kappa from Brown University in May 2012. In her senior history thesis, titled “The Financial Frontier: Slave Mortgaging and the Creation of the Deep South,” she explored the use of credit in the antebellum United States and, particularly, the use of slaves as collateral in financing the expansion of slavery into the southwestern frontier. Supported by a grant from Brown University’s Slavery & Justice Committee, she was able to present some of her research at the Brown and Harvard University conference “Slavery’s Capitalism: A New History of American Economic Development” in the spring of 2011.

At Brown, Beth worked as the coordinator of the student group Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere. Working closely with the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless, she and her fellow students successfully advocated for several pieces of legislation on foreclosure prevention and affordable housing. After organizing an extensive canvassing effort this spring, she and her peers saw the passage of the nation’s first Homeless Bill of Rights. As a final project, Beth convened more than 60 policymakers, faculty members, and homeless advocates in April 2012 to discuss the ways that her university’s research might support the implementation of a new strategic plan to end homelessness in Rhode Island.

As a member of Brown’s Student Labor Alliance and Student/Farmworker Alliance, she has also worked on campaigns to protect low-wage workers’ access to healthcare, living wages, and just working conditions.

As the Autry Fellow, Beth is excited to learn more about MDC’s programs in asset-building and financial security as well as the pathway from college entry to completion to employment.