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Our Approach

Community Science's strategy is to provide an integrated approach to building the capacity of organizations and institutions to develop the health, economic equity, and social justice of communities. We combine evaluation, technical assistance, a support network, information technology, and educational services to build community capacity.

Because they face complex, often deeply-entrenched issues, community institutions today must be more comprehensive than those of the past. The magnitude of the needed changes requires the full participation of all community institutions and members. Community Science's approach engages community residents, local program staff, funders, and other supporters to influence significant community changes to meet the needs and aspirations of community members. The word "communities" is broadly defined--it includes the places where we learn, work, reside, serve, and connect.

Community Science is committed to fostering a collaborative learning process that involves all stakeholders and exceeds the Partnership’s expectations. We consistently deliver, regardless of topic or context:

  • a participatory approach, through which we successfully engage stakeholders in determining their goals, strategies, outputs, and outcomes, anticipating opportunities and challenges that will influence their work;
  • a flexible and responsive attitude, whereby we are not afraid to ask the hard questions and, at the same time, adapt our methods to changing priorities and context;
  • a scientifically rigorous process, in which we follow the rules of evidence; and, last but not least,
  • a sensitivity to the concerns surrounding evaluations, which drives the development of our practical, useful, jargon-free presentations and reports.

Participation and shared ownership help ensure that any information collected is more accurate, relevant, and useful to participants as well as to other communities, funders, and policy makers. Our goal is to create a system for learning within organizations and communities that will endure after our direct involvement has ended.

Community Science recognizes that successful comprehensive community initiatives must focus on strengthening communities by engaging and strengthening their institutions. New institutions may sometimes need to be developed to help support comprehensive community initiatives. All institutions have to be involved in leading and supporting the change process. Additionally, community residents must be able to direct these efforts both individually and collectively through their leaders and institutions.

Community Science has learned, through research and practice, that in order to realize community change a system must be in place to nurture community initiatives as well as to engage and strengthen community institutions. A capacity building infrastructure, which provides the knowledge, skills, resources, relations, and commitment needed for successful comprehensive community initiatives, is essential. This infrastructure uses the network of relations and communications among initiative participants. A multifaceted system of service provided by intermediary organizations and consultants, both national and local, strengthens community institutions individually and collectively.

Community Science also assists communities in developing the local infrastructure of intermediaries, consultants, and other resources needed to create and sustain local and national support networks. Developing local intermediaries and support networks is a primary mission of Community Science's research and development activities. Community Science starts with a research-based approach, looking at the scientific literature and systematic investigations of practice to ensure that the initiative is based on a knowledge of the most promising strategies and practices.