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News & Info

Thinking Outside the Traditional Box for Delivering Health-Literacy Interventions to Underserved Populations

Health-literacy interventions traditionally focus on providing individuals with health information in multiple languages; using plain, nontechnical language (i.e., language at an eighth-grade level or below); and adding visuals to health-related information to make it easy to understand and apply to everyday situations. But what can you do to reach your service population when they are dispersed in a remote geographic area or rarely congregate in a central location? And what if a reduced budget does not allow you to interact with people one-on-one? And what if the individuals you are trying to reach have limited access to media or the Internet? This article summarizes practical strategies that have been developed and used by public-health educators around the country to address these types of challenges when working with traditionally underserved, difficult-to-reach, low-health-literate populations. The key lessons were informed by a review of the literature and key informant interviews with health-intervention implementers who responded to requests for information.

Low health literacy continues to be a major barrier to care in the United States, which negatively impacts health outcomes and disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minority populations.1 Some populations have unique characteristics that can make them more difficult to reach and make their health behaviors harder to influence. Characteristics such as low or no English-language literacy, social and geographic isolation, and limited access to media and the Internet are some of the barriers that can impact the effectiveness of a health-literacy intervention. 

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Reaching and Increasing Health Care Access for the Most Vulnerable Populations: A Toolkit for Community- and Faith-based Organizations

Community Science has been working with various individuals from community-based organizations and Universities to assemble innovative strategies that have the potential to maximize the reach and effectiveness of delivering key health messages to underserved and difficult-to-reach populations (e.g., those who reside in isolated communities, have limited English proficiency, or lack knowledge of the U.S. health system). For this project, staff issued a request for proposals which resulted in 46 applications. Of those who applied, a total of ten practices were selected and are included in an upcoming publication that features 10 innovative strategies designed to address key challenges to delivering health literacy interventions to vulnerable populations in traditionally underserved communities across the country.

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Staff Profile: Courte Van Voorhees

Courte Van Voorhees, Ph.D., Associate, has expertise in quantitative and qualitative methodology, organizational change management, sustainability, community development, equity, environmental justice, education, housing and homelessness, and impact assessment. He earned his Ph.D. in Community Research and Action (CRA) from Vanderbilt University. Dr. Van Voorhees has conducted mixed-method, applied social science research and evaluation for over 13 years. Dr. Van Voorhees has worked collaboratively within and across sectors, including government, private, academic, and grassroots public organizations. He has extensive experience in all phases of evaluation, research, and action processes, including stakeholder participation, capacity building, group facilitation, problem definition, planning, community based strategy implementation, execution, analysis, interpretation, reporting, and application of results. He has significant experience with organizational facilitation, capacity building, group process, and applied field training. Before working at Community Science, Dr. Van Voorhees was the primary methodologist for the Frostburg State University Education Professions doctoral program and also directed the Community and Social Change master’s program at the University of Miami. Courte enjoys full contact medieval combat and collecting adorable microorganism plushies.

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Reflective Grantmaking: Do Less, Learn More—Have Greater Impact!

Federal agencies, foundations, and nonprofit organizations that are funding solutions to long-standing social problems need to continually assess their efforts and use the findings to adapt and improve their funding strategies. This article discusses the value and guiding principles for embedding reflective practice into the grantmaking process. 

Although many funders and social change organizations espouse learning and adaptation as part of their culture, it is our observation that actual efforts to effectively use their experience and the results of evaluation often fall flat, if they happen at all. This can be attributed to a number of organizational factors, but there is also a common misconception that strengthening their funding strategies through more grants leads to a bigger impact. 

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Development of the St. David’s Foundation’s Monitoring, Learning, and Evaluation System Project

The St. David’s Foundation (SDF) is one of the largest grantmaking foundations in Texas. SDF invests proceeds from St. David's HealthCare to more than 60 nonprofit partners that operate healthy community programs in the Central Texas area. SDF has contracted with Community Science to develop a monitoring, learning, and evaluation (MLE) system to assist them to better manage and improve the effectiveness of SDF’s grantmaking. In understanding the importance of working with the organization, the Project Team has been collaborating with SDF staff to build on their existing tools and procedures, refining their content, and developing new procedures to help them determine progress.

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Publications



Recent Publications:

The Steps-By-Step Guide to Evaluation: How to Become Savvy Evaluation Consumers (June 2018)

Community Science is proud to present The Step-By-Step Guide to Evaluation: How to Become Savvy Evaluation Consumers, which we developed for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. This new guide is designed for people with little or no experience with formal evaluation to help them become more familiar with evaluation concepts and practices, partner better with independent evaluators, and use evaluation more effectively to continually learn from and improve their work.

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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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