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News & Info

Algorithms for Equitable Social Impact

Community Science is investing in strategies that leverage the tools of big data science and predictive analytics to improve health and human service systems, programs, and policies. This work is fundamental to what we are all about. We use “state-of-the-art qualitative and quantitative methods . . . to strengthen the science and practice of community change.” Another core part of our mission is to use our research and evaluation expertise “to build healthy, just, and equitable communities.” So, here’s the interesting rub: When it comes to using big data science and predictive analytics to promote positive community change, we are at the same time very aware of the warnings, admonitions, and proof that predictive analytics can also perpetuate and reinforce institutionalized inequities.

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Interviews with Notable Contributors to Community Science: Pete York

In continuation of celebrating Community Science's 20th anniversary, we are interviewing past and current major contributors to the impact of Community Science. This issue in the series includes an interview with Pete York, M.S.S.A., Principal Associate. Mr. York has over 20 years of experience as a consultant and researcher in the evaluation and nonprofit fields as well as a national spokesperson for social impact and impact measurement issues. For a full, detailed staff profile, visit the Our Community page on our website. The interview was conducted by Nour Elshabassi (NE), Research Assistant.

NE: What brought you to Community Science?

Pete: I've had a long-term relationship with Community Science going back to a project for The California Endowment. David Chavis (Community Science CEO and Principal Associate) was facilitating a national group of evaluators to help guide the foundation on how to evaluate their placed-based policy change initiative. David and I connected on the work, as well as our overall values and approach to evaluation, research, and systems change. After that, we always found time to connect, catch up, and share what we were learning. During the 2016 American Evaluation Association conference, we reconnected over breakfast. He was sharing the great systems and community change work that Community Science was doing and the direction that they were heading with respect to using big data as a tool for change. I shared the exciting work I'd been doing over the past few years using big administrative datasets to build predictive, prescriptive, and evaluation models for government agencies and nonprofits, including innovative ways that machine learning algorithms were making a big difference. We immediately saw how our work was converging, so we began discussing how we could work together. It didn't take long to realize that the high-caliber team of leaders, experts, and researchers at Community Science would be a great group of people with whom to work and learn from as we move this big data and analytics work forward to improve entire systems.

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Implementation of the National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities: A Three-Year Retrospective

Oscar Espinosa, M.A., Senior Associate, and Brandon Coffee-Borden, M.P.P., Managing Associate, co-authored an article in the Journal of Health Disparities Research and Practice. Check out the abstract below! You can also access the full article here.

“In April 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH) launched the National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities (NPA) to increase the effectiveness of efforts to eliminate health disparities by coordinating partners, leaders, and stakeholders committed to action. At its core, the NPA is an experiment in collaboration that relies heavily on those on the front line who are actively engaged in minority health work at multiple levels."

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Staff Spotlight: Lindsay Bynum

Lindsay Bynum, Ph.D., Senior Analyst, has extensive research and evaluation experience in community, organizational, and systemic factors that facilitate pro-social behavior, particularly in the contexts of civic engagement and volunteerism. She is adept in qualitative and quantitative research methods—from interviews to hierarchical linear models—and in evaluation techniques, including development of logic models and design of dashboards. Dr. Bynum has honed her knowledge and skills through a variety of professional experiences. At Community Science, Dr. Bynum serves on the research and evaluation teams for initiatives, including a study to test a framework for facilitating community data collaboration and an evaluation of a national project to engage emerging professionals in health disparity research and studies, both funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health. She also works on an assessment of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Models for Change initiative’s sustainability and long-term reach and effectiveness.

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Recent Publications:

Emerging Action Principles for Designing and Planning Community Change (March 2015)

Community Matters! Decades of scientific research have shown that being part of a supportive, inclusive and capable community promotes mental, physical, and social well-being more than any other factors known to the social and medical sciences. Our publication series, Community Matters: Action Principles, Frameworks, and Strategies, shares what science and practice have taught us about building and strengthening community. The first publication in this series, “Emerging Principles for Designing and Implementing Community Change,” has just been released.


Local Voices: On-the-Ground Perspectives on Driving Community Change in the Making Connections Sites (July 2014)

This report describes, from the perspective of local stakeholders, the experience of several sites involved in Making Connections — the Foundation’s signature community change initiative of the 2000s — in developing and enhancing the core capacities essential for articulating and pursuing a local community change agenda. The report describes the conditions in the communities when Making Connections began; the core capacities built during the decade-long initiative; the factors that contributed to capacity building; the evidence of improved outcomes for children, families and neighborhoods resulting from the enhanced change capacities; the continuing challenges of sustaining those capacities; and key takeaways from the experience.  


Addressing Health Disparities Through Organizational Change-Evaluation Report (April 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.  


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.