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News & Info

Community Science in Action at the 28th Annual AEA Conference

From October 15-18, the American Evaluation Association will hold its 28th annual conference in Denver, Colorado at the Hyatt Regency and the Colorado Convention Center and Community Science will be well-represented!

TIG Business Meeting: Disaster & Emergency Management Evaluation, Making Sense of Chaos: The State of Disaster and Emergency Management Evaluation, Thursday, October 16, 2014, 7:15 PM to 8:45 PM

Community Science Associate Brandi Gilbert, Ph.D. will chair this TIG Business Meeting that brings together representatives from state, local, and international organizations working in the field of disaster and emergency management evaluation. Presentations will cover considerations for evaluation of the humanitarian industry, trends in value for money ratios, working with minimal resources, and the impact of fewer drills and exercises on evaluating disaster readiness. The group will discuss the future of the field, and share recommendations for applying the many skills, perspectives, and experience inherent in this interdisciplinary arena.

Human Services Evaluation Track Roundtable, Wednesday, October 15, 2014, 6:15 PM to 7:00 PM

Jaehyun Julia Lee, Ph.D., will co-facilitate this roundtable discussion entitled "Keep in touch!" -- Reaching and staying in touch with hard-to-reach evaluation participants over time while meeting budget and time restraints. Dr. Lee, a Managing Associate at Community Science, will share specific examples from working with refugees in the United States, including the challenges faced and expertise gained from on the ground experiences related to connecting with refugee participants, and maintaining contact with them over time. The roundtable presenters will pose questions to discuss best practices involving hard-to-reach evaluation participants under budget and time restraints.

Health Evaluation Panel, Saturday, October 18, 2014, 8:00 AM to 9:30 AM

Community Science Vice President and Principal Associate Kien S. Lee, Ph.D. will serve as the Discussant at this session entitled Measuring Capacity and Community Change: Evaluating a Comprehensive Community Initiative to Improve Nutrition and Physical Activity. She will be joined by colleagues Brandi Gilbert, Ph.D., and Margaret Paek, M.P.H., who will present the evaluation findings from a project implemented by the Institute for Public Health Innovation -- Transforming Prince George's County Communities (TPGCC), an initiative that applies a range of strategies to improve the health of community residents. Presentations will describe the methods used and the challenges of balancing strategy-level evaluation efforts with large-scale and long-term impact evaluation in a relatively short time period. The group will discuss key measures, including collaboration and impact of the Food Equity Council (FEC); increased availability and accessibility of produce through a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program and double value coupon program (DVCP) geared toward low-income residents; and increased cross-sector collaboration and community capacity to address barriers to recreational opportunities. The findings from this work provide insight into strengths and challenges of evaluation processes that can inform future assessments of public health initiatives designed to change the built environments.

Measuring Sense of Community

Research has conclusively found that a sense of community (also described as social support, social cohesion, etc.) is one of the most important factors needed for social, psychological, and physical well-being. Community Science has been the leader in the field in the measurement of a sense of community. The Sense of Community Index version 2 (SCI-2) is based on a well-known theory introduced in a seminal piece on sense of community by David McMillan and Community Science’s CEO David Chavis in 1986. The authors describe sense of community using four elements: membership, influence, meeting needs, and a shared emotional connection. Community Science developed the measurement tool to help assess sense of community. It is the most frequently used measurement of sense of community among researchers and practitioners globally. The original tool was a 12-item scale. The current version of this assessment instrument – the SCI-2 (which is a 24-item scale with four subscales) – was developed to better reflect the four elements of the theory and advances in research on this topic.

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Strengthening Community in Action: Using the Sense of Community Index-2

By Jon Clarke, Community and Neighborhood Resources Manager, City of Longmont, CO

I use the concepts of the Sense of Community Index to design programs that build a sense of community and to measure the effectiveness of those programs in building a sense of community. Those of us working for the City of Longmont, we know inherently that building a sense of community is a good thing. The Sense of Community Index has given me the ability to demonstrate to city leadership the results of the work that we are doing in our community.

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R&D for Social Change

We usually don’t think about research and development (R&D) as an important part of community change. R&D is often assumed to be just something that pharmaceutical and information technology companies do. From our very beginning, we have considered Community Science a research and development organization for social change. The primary purpose of R&D in an organization is to discover and create new knowledge about scientific and technological topics for the purpose of uncovering and enabling development of valuable new products, processes, and services. We have understood the importance of taking an R&D perspective in our work, given the potential critical impact of what we do on the well-being of children, families, and other people. 

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JourneyStart ©

Health and healthcare disparities continue to affect underserved populations in the United States. One strategy for reducing these disparities is improving organizations’ cross-cultural competency. An organization that is cross-culturally competent means that it has written policies and procedures as well as practices that allow its staff to work effectively with people from underserved populations and from different racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds.

Cross-cultural competency is “a set of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors among individuals, as well as policies and practices within an organization that enable effective work in cross-cultural situations.”1   It’s a way of operating that is sensitive and responsive to people from different backgrounds and ensures that health care is appropriate for them.

1Cross, T., Bazron, B., Dennis, K., & Isaacs, M. (1989). Towards a culturally competent system of care, Volume I. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Child Development Center, CASSP Technical Assistance Center.

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Immigrant Integration: From Melting Pot, to Mosaic, to Community and Systems Change

Community Science has been involved in immigrant integration work since 1999 when we provided technical assistance and other support to a national effort funded by the Ford and Mott Foundations in partnership with six local foundations to build relationships between long-time residents and newcomers. In 2005, we evaluated The Colorado Trust's Immigrant Integration Initiative. That same year, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees commissioned Community Science to write the evaluation-related sections of a toolkit that included a wide range of resources to meet the information needs of foundations that sought to support immigrant integration work. In 2012, we partnered with Welcoming America (WA) to assess WA's efforts to transform communities into more welcoming and integrated places. In 2013, we began working with the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS) to facilitate its effort to promote immigrant integration, as well as with World Education, Inc., to implement the Networks for Integrating New Americans sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE).

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Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services Focuses on Immigrant Integration

In 2013, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS) decided to focus more extensively on immigrant integration. One of its units, the Children Services Unit (CSU), engaged Community Science to assist in aligning its efforts with the organization’s immigrant integration agenda. We worked with CSU staff to apply a child welfare lens to that agenda. The process included redefining the integration outcomes in child welfare terms, determining the outcome measures, and examining the degree to which CSU’s current work supports immigrant integration.

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Incenting Healthy Food Choices

In May of 2014, Community Science shared the results of the SNAP Healthy Food Cluster Evaluation at a Healthy Food Incentive workshop organized by the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR). The mission of this public-private partnership, which includes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is to “improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and application of childhood obesity research” and to apply data to halt and reverse its impact through enhanced coordination and collaboration. Leading healthy food practitioners were invited to provide their perspectives from the field that could inform effective practices and policies. Partially due to the Farm Bill’s authorization of $125 million for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI), SNAP healthy food practitioners (including those in our cluster evaluation) were there to tell their story regarding their role and potential to address the health and nutritional needs of America’s least advantaged.

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Community Science to Provide Expert Consulting for Promoting Community Engagement

Community Science has been awarded, out of a highly competitive field, a five-year blanket purchase agreement (BPA) by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), an independent federal agency that encourages community involvement through volunteer programs, including Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, VISTA, and the Social Innovation Fund, and leads President Obama's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. Together with partner and subcontractor, Campaign Consultation, Community Science will provide CNCS with a broad range of services, including research and evaluation, training, digital learning development, and organizational capacity building in support of CNCS’s strategic goals. David M. Chavis, PhD, President/CEO stated “This award opens up a new relationship for us with one of the most important  agencies for promoting stronger communities and social change. As the only small business awarded this BPA, it reflects a recognition of our and our partner’s demonstrated expertise and commitment to community and systems changes as well as the dedication of our staff to high quality work, on time, and on budget.”


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Addressing Health Disparities Through Organizational Change-Evaluation Report (4/19/2012)

In 2006, The Colorado Trust funded 14 organizations to improve their cultural competency in order to strengthen their capacity to reduce health disparities.  Community Science was engaged to evaluate the initiative, specifically assessing: 1) changes in cultural competency among grantees, 2) the influence of cultural competency changes on grantee interventions and short -term outcomes, 3) factors and conditions needed to bring about positive changes in organizational cultural competency, and 4) grantee progress and accomplishments over time.  

Click "Continue Reading" below to go to final evaluation report.

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Scope, Scale, and Sustainability: What It Takes to Create Lasting Community Change

How can we address complex social problems in communities and make an impact on a larger scale? By changing institutions' policies and practices, and developing new strategies that address root causes of social problems. Community Science' David M. Chavis, Ph.D. and Tina R. Trent, M.A., (now with NeighborWorks America) co-authored Scope, Scale, and Sustainability: What It Takes to Create Lasting Community Change,  published in the inaugural issue of The Foundation Review.

In the study, funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, eleven completed community change initiatives (CCI) were analyzed to better understand what had been learned from these initiatives about how to reach the scope, scale, and sustainability needed to achieve lasting community change.

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Strategic Factors for Building Community: The Five C’s Community, Connections, Control, Cash, & Collective Action

This brief report describes the strategic factors for stimulating community -wide health and well-being. It illustrates how each of the Five C’s “can be put together to develop an effective, broad-reaching, and sustainable community development strategy”.

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The Importance of Culture in Evaluation

The Importance of Culture in Evaluation, a publication funded by The Colorado Trust, provides insights to help guide the complex dynamics between evaluators, funders and stakeholders of different cultures. The report provides examples of where cross-cultural competency is critical in evaluation and recommends questions and strategies that an evaluator should consider when practicing this form of cultural competency. 


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Safe Start- Principles for Engaging and Retaining Families in Services

This report was developed by Community Science for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) for the Safe Start Initiative. It describes the promising principles for engaging and retaining families in non-mandated services.

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