Making a Difference with Data
Knowledge for Equity Conference offers more proof that community-level data drives insight and action in ending health disparities.
In November of 2012, Community Science leaders and staff designed and facilitated the Knowledge For Equity Conference, which aimed to help community-based organizations in their efforts to better use data and other sources of knowledge to promote health equity and address health disparities.
Opening speaker J. Nadine Gracia, MD, MSCE, gave attendees a summary of efforts by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to increase data access and use, and emphasized the importance of aggregated data in driving solutions to bring more equity to the availability and accessibility of health care.
Dr. Gracia is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health (Acting) and the Acting Director of the Office of Minority Health at HHS, and offered this unique insight:
"Community-based organizations and leaders like you are central to this knowledge transformation and dissemination process. You are on the ground collecting the data, identifying what works and what doesn't work, and using data to mobilize people into action. And that's why, at HHS, we have looked to partner with community-based organizations in our efforts to end health disparities."
Making it Count Through Coordination and Collaboration
Community Science helps build strong community infrastructure by supporting Systems of Care
Change is rarely an individual effort. In order to shift even the simplest process, multiple stakeholders must be involved, working collaboratively to ensure that no needs are left unmet. Unfortunately, it's far easier in theory than it is in practice. For youth- and family-serving systems, achieving this goal means working with their counterparts in other agencies and organizations to coordinate - and integrate - services available for children and youth in the multiple systems, and those at risk of behavioral and other health challenges.
Meeting the needs of these children means building a better system.
That's the foundation of Systems of Care programs throughout the United States - a service delivery approach that builds partnerships across agencies and communities to create a broad, integrated process for meeting families' multiple needs.
Although Systems of Care were originally developed to address the needs of children with serious emotional disturbances, the approach is now being applied to other populations whose needs require services from multiple agencies, including youth involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.
Turning Information Into Insight and Action
Since our founding over 15 years, ago, Community Science has seen a great expansion in the practice of evaluation by foundations, government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Nowadays just about every grantee knows that their funder is going to want an evaluation of their work or some data to show that they are achieving what they set out to achieve. Two challenges emerge from this promotion of evaluation. First, evaluation costs time and money, especially if you use an outside evaluator. Few organizations know what to look for in an evaluator or in a good evaluation. If evaluation is too expensive to do on a regular basis, it becomes something done for the funder and not for the benefit of the organization or the people it serves. It cannot become a “habit” if the cost is too great to sustain. A second challenge is that many organizations are collecting data about their community and work- some are even drowning in it. However, there has been relatively little effort placed on how to use data for strategy improvement to do a better job in addressing social problems and make important organizational decisions, and advocate for better policies and programs. In order to advocate for change, evidence is critical.
Not only can outside evaluations be non-sustainable and cost-prohibitive, they often leave decision-makers with data they can't completely understand, or act upon.
These challenges put our spotlight for the last several years on building organizational and community capacity to monitor, evaluate, reflect, and act using data and other sources of knowledge. It is essential for organizations to have access to sound relevant data that have already been collected from schools, government agencies, and other public projects. One of the earliest issues Community Science has been addressing is data inequity- the unequal access to data about communities and their residents. Very often businesses, government agencies, and consulting firms have access to data that local community-based organizations cannot get because of costs or availability. Community Science has conducted two studies to look at how data in every state can be made more accessible by community based organizations. One looked at the drug abuse related data for the White House Office of National Drug Abuse Policy and the other was recently completed for the Office of Minority Health on data related to the social determinants of health. Community Science will also be conducting a town hall meeting on November 14th about how the federal government can increase access to useful and useable data by community based organizations as part of our Knowledge for Equity Conference (see www.knowledge4equity.com).
Knowledge for Equity Conference - November 13-14, 2012
Community Science is pleased to announce a national conference, Knowledge for Equity: Using Data to Address Health Disparities, which will be held on November 13th and 14th, 2012, in Silver Spring, Maryland. Knowledge for Equity will help community-based organizations to better use data and other sources of knowledge to promote health equity and address health disparities. The conference will be designed to support community groups in accessing existing national, state, or local data; and analyze and use these data to end health disparities. Over the two day conference, attendees will participate in workshops and breakout sessions, and attend presentations on how to use existing data at the local, state, and national levels. The conference is primarily for members of community-based efforts (coalitions, grassroots organizations, etc.) and nonprofit organizations, use data to advance their health equity or health disparities work, but is open to anyone interested in health equity work. For more information about the Knowledge for Equity Conference and to register, see Knowledge 4 Equity.
Welcoming America - Building a Nation of Neighbors
Immigrant integration isn't new to Community Science. In fact, CS 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. Based on the research and findings of these and many other projects, Principal Associate and Vice President, Kien Lee, presented on the definition and meaning of immigrant integration at the International Community Psychology Conference in Lisbon in 2010.Continue Reading
SNAP Incentive Cluster Evaluation
So, what's the best way to get people to buy and eat more fresh food? The Community Science team, led by Project Director Ricardo Millett, is working to find out by conducting a cluster evaluation of four healthy food incentive programs that provide Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients with incentives to shop at farmers' markets. Formerly known as the federal Food Stamp Program, SNAP focuses on nutrition as much as benefits.
These food incentive programs - operated by Fair Food Network, Wholesome Wave, Market Umbrella, and Roots of Change - match SNAP recipients' benefits at varying rates which ultimately enables recipients to purchase more fruit and vegetables than they would otherwise be able to afford.Continue Reading
The Achievement of Economic Inclusion
In many urban and rural communities in the United States, patterns of long-term disinvestment and persistent racial and economic segregation have been major contributing factors resulting in areas of concentrated poverty. As a consequence of a variety of structural and systemic problems, residents in these disadvantaged communities are isolated from economic opportunities in the broader city or region.
These neighborhoods often lack access to essential services and amenities, such as effective schools and training programs, reliable transportation, non-predatory financial services, quality child care and health services, and fresh, affordable food outlets.
In part reflecting the limited educational resources available to them, many working-age residents in these communities have low educational attainment and few marketable skills. These characteristics, plus the lack of supportive services, contribute to the difficulties that these individuals face in securing and maintaining employment that can lead to family economic security. In addition, many of the businesses operating in these neighborhoods are undercapitalized, negatively affecting the range and quality of goods and services they can offer, and their potential for growth and job creation.
"Economic inclusion" strategies seek to address the underlying structural issues and practices, including discrimination, that serve as barriers to economic opportunity and improved quality of life for the residents of these disadvantaged communities.
Do you want to be part of an organization of social change professionals where scientific rigor, practical solutions and progressive social values come together?
If you do, then consider that Community Science is recruiting for the following positions:
We've experienced growth in the past few months so we are recruiting for motivated professionals who can help us take the practice of social change through science and capacity building to a higher level. To apply, please click on a link above.
CS Gives Back to Community
At Community Science, we pride ourselved in "walking the talk," especially when it comes to giving back in our own community.
On August 9, 2012, Community Science Management and associates spent the day volunteering at A Wider Circle. This 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization offers unique programs which addres the specialized needs of adults and children challenged by homelessness, poverty, substance abuse, and other hardhips.
At the organizations Silver Spring, MD center, we loaded furnitue on trucks for families to pick up, offloaded and cleaned donated furniture, sorted other donated items, and assisted with clean-up and recycling efforts throughout the warehouse.
We enjoy these hands-on opportunities to serve communities and look forward to helping A Wider Circle again.
Recent Presentations by David Chavis, Principal Associate & CEO, and Principal Associates Kien Lee and Scott Hebert
Keynote Speaker, "Exploring apacity Building for Community Change," The Community Change Network Workshop, July, 2012, Cincinnati, OH. David will deliver the keynote address at this critical think tank discussion around community change, including how to measure and grow community capacity for change. The workshop is part of the larger Annual International Community Development Society Conference.
The IVth Annual International Conference of Community Psychology: David Chavis and Kien Lee conducted a "Strengthening Communities" workshop and presented at a symposium called Empowerment and Human Development of Times of Crisis and Abundance, June 2012, Facultat de Psicologia, Campus Mundet, Barcelona, Spain.
Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) Community of Practice on Place-based Evaluation convening in July 2012, Washington, DC: Scott Hebert will be reporting on Mapping Funder Indicator for Place-based Initiatives and David Chavis will be presenting on Measuring Progress Toward Scale and Sustainability.
Research & Development at Community Science
Community Science has a 15 year history in the research and development of products and strategies that help develop healthy, just and equitable communities. Our current research and development efforts are focused on three important products:
* JourneyStart - a unique on-line assessment and action tool for health-related and other organizations focusing on an organization's readiness to examine its cross-cultural competency and take action. JourneyStart focuses on an organization’s policies, procedures, and practices and provides advice on how to strengthen the organization’s cross-cultural capacity, not the individuals within the organization.
* ChangeThinkers - an on-line "space" for grantees and others to share ideas and best practices, get help and find resources in order to create a learning community.
* Strength of Community Workshop and Toolkit - an assessment and action kit that builds on our internationally used Sense of Community Index-2 to help funders, government agencies, and community groups learn how strong a community they have and how to strengthen it even further.
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.Continue Reading
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.Continue Reading
Strategic Factors for Building Community: The Five Cís 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”.Continue Reading
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.
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.Continue Reading