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News & Info

Evaluators and Social Change: Into the Cauldron We Go!

As funders, communities, and evaluators become more knowledgeable about the root causes of racial and ethnic disparities in health, education, income, and other conditions of well-being, we begin to realize how community and systems change interventions are necessary to affect these root causes. In consequence, we evaluators find ourselves re-examining our roles, training, and competencies. Evaluations of these types of interventions do not only generate more knowledge or inform investments—at best, they also help strengthen communities and promote equity. In our evaluation of place-based work at Community Science, we see how evaluators play the following roles in addition to carrying out their technical responsibilities.

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Evaluation of the Port Towns Community Health Partnership’s Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) Initiative

The Port Towns Community Health Partnership (PTCHP) is located in the Port Towns community of Bladensburg, Maryland. The PTCHP is comprised of various local residents, organizations, and funders, collaborating to improve community conditions with the end goal of making the Port Towns a healthy place to live, learn, work, play, and worship. PTCHP partners include ECO City Farms, Food Equity Council, Ecumenical Health Council, End Times Harvest Ministries, Cottage City Community Garden, and Colmar Manor Community Garden. Community Science was contracted by Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States to conduct an evaluation of the PTCHP.

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Finding Happiness This Holiday Season

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It’s the hap-hap-happiest season! The holidays, whether you observe Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, or any other cultural or religious celebration, are meant to be a time to give back and express gratitude to loved ones. It is difficult to focus on the true meaning of the holiday spirit however, when advertisements are constantly reminding us that happiness is found in expensive goods such as cars, clothes, jewelry, and other material possessions. This article seeks to explore the relationship that wealth and pleasure-seeking behavior have on well-being and to discuss pathways to happiness that are community driven and scientifically proven to improve well-being.  

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Staff Profile: Amy Minzner

Amy Minzner, MSCRP, M.A., Senior Associate, has expertise in the areas of community change, municipal operations and civic tech, workforce development, organizational capacity building, and program evaluation. Over the last fifteen years, Minzner has directed several strategic community development studies. These included the formative evaluations of What Works Cities for Bloomberg Philanthropies and the White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities’ CST Pilot Evaluation, as well as two large random assignment studies for the Department of Labor - one on moving individuals from unemployment insurance back to employment and one that tested brochures’ ability to elicit behavioral change from employers. Minzner directed these projects while a senior researcher at Abt Associates. Additionally, Minzner worked closely with staff from HUD to develop an instrument and system for evaluating its technical assistance and training efforts. 

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Advancing the Measurement of Collective Community Capacity Through the ACEs and Resilience Collective Community Capacity Survey

As part of its mission to conduct objective, rigorous research of community change processes, in 2016 a Community Science team completed and published a new valid and reliable index of collective community capacity. This article describes the new ACEs and Resilience Collective Community Capacity (ARC3) Survey in detail. 

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Community Science in Action: Establishing Baltimore’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund

Community Science, in addition to our consultation, capacity building, and evaluation services, also works on local issues of national importance. There is an affordable housing crisis in Baltimore City, as in all American cities. Over half (53%) of city renters and 40 percent of homeowners pay more than one-third of their income in housing, putting them at risk for housing instability and even homelessness. In Baltimore on any given night, 3,000 people, including children and their families, are homeless. Over 25,000 Baltimore City households, more than half with children, are on the waiting list for desperately needed federal housing assistance, and they will wait as much as 10 years. They are the lucky ones: another 50,000 households applied but were turned away from the waiting list.

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Publications



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.

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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.  

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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.  

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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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