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OUR NEWS

On this page, you'll find news about Community Science — our latest publications, press releases and staff announcements. We're expanding so keep checking back!

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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ACEs Public-Private Initiative (APPI)

In 2012, the Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) Public-Private Initiative (APPI), a Washington state consortium of public agencies, private foundations, and local networks, was formed to study interventions to prevent and mitigate ACEs and facilitate statewide learning and dialogue on these topics. As part of the initiative's cross-site evaluation, the evaluation team sought to assess the extent to which five community sites developed sufficient capacity to achieve their goals and examine the relationship of the sites' capacity to selected site efforts and their impact on ACEs-related outcomes. The team conducted an extensive review of the research literature focused on community capacity development. Based on this review and in collaboration with the APPI sites, the team created an instrument to measure the APPI sites' collective community capacity to address ACEs and increase resilience in their communities: the ACEs and Resilience Collective Community Capacity (ARC3) instrument.


Integrated Marketing Health Communication Project for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Vaccine Program Office

Community Science was contracted by the National Vaccine Program Office (NVPO) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to support its efforts to provide individuals with accurate, timely, transparent, and audience-appropriate information about vaccines. NVPO offers unbiased advice and expertise to other agencies in identifying and responding to gaps in the vaccine system, making vaccines safer and more effective, with the end goal to reduce the burden of preventable infectious disease throughout the country.

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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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Building International Monitoring and Evaluation Capacity to Measure the Impact of the Global Libraries Program

The Global Libraries (GL) initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation aims to use libraries as a resource to bring about Internet and technology access to developing and transitioning countries as a means to improve lives and opportunities. For the last four years, Community Science has worked in partnership with GL to build the capacity of the Impact Work Group (IWG). The IWG is comprised of impact specialists who work closely with library staff and other stakeholders in their countries to assess their grant activities and measure impact on library users (e.g., improve health, job access, financial security, and education outcomes). 

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Community Science at AEA

The American Evaluation Association (AEA) held their Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, on October 24-29, 2016.  Community Science presented during various sessions and workshops.  A major focus of our work this year was the evaluation of complex, multi-level, multi-sector initiatives and assessing community capacity; cultural responsiveness in evaluation; capacity building for data use and evaluation; and evaluation of professional development initiatives for advocates and professionals of color.  Our team also presented action research for health coverage outreach and education efforts targeting hard-to-reach communities under the Affordable Care Act.  Check out our team in action!

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Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders: A Population with Different Histories, Assets, and Needs

In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we would like to highlight the integral role that Asian Americans play in American history, the issues they face, and how Community Science is contributing to promoting the health and well-being of members of this diverse population.

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Community Science Staff Present at the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust

On February 13, 2015, Kien Lee, Ph.D., Principal Associate/Vice President, and Brandon Coffee-Borden, M.P.P., Associate, delivered a presentation at the offices of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust (the Trust) for 12 members of the Trust and implementation team of Project Lazarus, a project of Community Care of North Carolina. The Trust engaged Community Science to study aspects of Project Lazarus, an initiative designed to address the ongoing challenge of prescription opioid misuse, abuse, and overdose in the state of North Carolina. Community Science used cross-case study methodology to identify patterns and lessons learned across six counties where the initiative is being implemented. The evaluation team conducted site visits and telephone interviews with stakeholders in each county to understand how the initiative is unfolding, and to identify challenges, successes, and lessons learned. 

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Knowing the Community Is Key to Delivering Effective ACA Outreach and Education

The passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in March 2010 marked an important change in the course of healthcare regulation and reform in the U.S. The law aims to cut the uninsured rate in the nation and expand public and private insurance coverage options through the introduction of new requirements and provisions such as the state Health Insurance Marketplaces.

Community Science, in partnership with other organizations involved in the National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities (NPA), worked to document the outreach and education activities conducted by a select number of members of the NPA’s Regional Health Equity Councils in various states, including Michigan, Georgia, Tennessee, and Ohio.  The events were designed specifically to inform vulnerable populations on the ACA and its enrollment process. Analyses of data collected by outreach and education event organizers showed that outreach events that were most effective were held in locations that were convenient to the target population (i.e., easy to get to, familiar, comfortable, and safe). These locations included places of worship, education settings, community health centers, and health fairs.

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One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Understand the Differences and the Similarities in Communities

Funders, policymakers, and practitioners often see “the community” as a single entity. The community is everyone who lives or works in a place. At best, community members are thought of in terms of sectors (e.g., residents, businesses, law enforcement, human services, etc.).  Yet to be more successful in our work, we need to take a granular look at the place where people live and work, and understand the actual community; social relations; sense of belonging, influence, and trust; and emotional ties that people have.  Whether it is about community building, prevention services, or policy advocacy, certain institutions (formal and informal) play key roles as access points for members of that community. These include faith institutions, professional or trade associations, community centers, schools, sororities and fraternities, and civic groups. Such organizations form the social support structure for members of a group or community; however, they may have different functions in different cultures.

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Community Science Managing Associate Julia Lee, Ph.D., Presents Financial Coaching Field Scan Findings at Annie E. Casey Foundation

The Annie E. Casey Foundation brought a small group of national, regional, and community-based grantmakers together to present the findings from research of financial coaching practices. At the meeting, Dr. Lee, along with former Community Science Principal Associate Scott Hebert, presented findings from a financial coaching field scan, which included a discussion of current practices, outcomes, and recommendations for the field.

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Community Science Annual Charitable Giving Campaign Provides Support to 21 Organizations

This year, Community Science invited clients and other colleagues to participate in our annual tradition of charitable giving. We identified six organizations that align with our mission "to strengthen the science and practice of community change in order to build healthy, just, and equitable communities," and asked everyone to choose an organization they’d like for us to support with a $5 donation on their behalf:

A Wider Circle
Feeding America
Identity, Inc
Jobs With Justice
One DC
The Wounded Warrier Project

Our community expressed appreciation for the opportunity to support these organizations as well as enthusiasm for the creative approach to promote engagement. One of our clients said, “This is not only a generous act, but a great idea!” We are grateful to all who responded to our invitation.

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Community Science Associate Jessika Bottiani, Ph.D., M.P.H., Presents at the Room to Grow: Journey to Cultural Competency Mini-Conference

On December 2, 2014, Community Science Associate Jessika Bottiani, Ph.D., M.P.H., gave a talk at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health for the Room to Grow:  Journey to Cultural Competency Mini-Conference, sponsored by Kennedy Krieger Institute, the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities, and the Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions.  Her talk was entitled, “Schools as Developmental Contexts:  Implications of Racial Inequity in Adolescents’ School Experiences.” 

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Staff Profile: Kumbie Madondo, Ph.D., Joins Community Science

Kumbie Madondo, Ph.D, Analyst, has extensive knowledge about racial and ethnic disparities in health and, in particular, trends and issues related to HIV/AIDS, poverty, and the role of technology in facilitating civic engagement. She is skilled in conducting qualitative and quantitative studies, including the use of path analysis and other statistical models.

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Working Toward a Stronger, Diverse Nation

Community Science has been at the forefront in advancing the field of immigrant integration by contributing to the understanding of the changing landscape of the U.S., defining what healthy integration of immigrants and refugees is, and studying how community-building strategies can contribute to immigrant integration, to name a few. The following are several of Community Science’s recent projects:

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Evaluating Federal Support of Communities Combating Health Disparities

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health (OMH) contracted with Community Science to conduct a multi-year process and outcome evaluation of the National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities (NPA). The NPA is a strategy designed to mobilize a nationwide, comprehensive, community-driven approach to combating racial and ethnic health disparities. 

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Changing Environments to Prevent Substance Abuse

Community Science brings an environmental approach to substance prevention. We understand that successful environmental prevention efforts must include policy change, address differences in culture and race, equity, and focus on efforts that change systems and structures that impede health and promote unsafe behaviors. Too often, efforts to address substance abuse prevention focus solely, or predominately, on changing individual behavior and attitudes.

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Staff Profile: Meg Hargreaves, Ph.D., Joins Community Science

Public health expert Margaret B. Hargreaves, Ph.D., joined Community Science as Principal Associate on February 4, 2015.  In her new role, Dr. Hargreaves will contribute to Community Science’s long and established track record in leading community change, business development, and project direction, providing valuable mentorship to early-career professionals.

“Meg’s rigor, deep thinking, and passion for community and systems change will strengthen our ability to assist our clients to build community capacity,” said Community Science Principal Associate and CEO David Chavis, Ph.D. “Meg has been a kindred spirit, and now she will be part of our community. Her national experience working with public and private funders, providing valuable thought leadership, guidance, and evaluation services, is a great addition to our company.”

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Changing College Environments to Prevent and Treat Tobacco Use

Community Science has started work with the Legacy Foundation on projects related to tobacco prevention and cessation on college campuses throughout the U.S. Through a multi-organizational collaborative consisting of Legacy and nine partner organizations, the Tobacco Free Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Initiative seeks to support HBCUs in developing and implementing comprehensive policies for tobacco-free campuses. Community Science will evaluate this initiative by 1) providing a culturally responsive evaluation for the Tobacco Free HBCU Initiative that will consider the unique features of historically Black colleges; and 2) using culturally appropriate assessment tools to evaluate the unique characteristics of HBCUs.

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Exploring School Diversity

Community Science Associate, Jessika Bottiani, Ph.D., M.P.H., participated on a panel at the 2015 Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting on March 19-21 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The panel explored the benefits and challenges of racial and ethnic heterogeneity and diversity and same-race peer representation in schools, with a focus on boys of color. Other panelists included faculty from the University of Virginia and the University of California, Los Angeles.

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Webinar: How to Assess the Effectiveness of ACA Outreach and Education Efforts

This webinar will provide organizations that are conducting, funding, or planning, ACA outreach and education to racially and ethnically diverse populations with insights on assessing the reach and effectiveness of those activities. The webinar will focus on lessons learned from an evaluation conducted by Community Science and will present information on:

  • Methods to assess the effectiveness of ACA outreach and education efforts;
  • Results of outreach efforts in terms of reach, knowledge gain, and uptake;
  • Conclusions/Recommendations for enhancing outreach in future enrollment periods; and
  • Strategies for engaging and collaborating with community-based organizations.

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Staff Profile: Julia Lee, Ph.D.

Julia Lee, Ph.D., Managing Associate, has experience in research, evaluation, and health promotion in community settings. She has provided technical support for several health and social science research projects on health disparities, intimate partner violence, and community development. Dr. Lee has also worked extensively with community organizations and coalitions as well as local schools on program evaluation and evaluation capacity building by providing technical assistance, education, and training on monitoring and evaluation, measurement, data collection, and reporting. 

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Health Equity Resources for Community Based Organizations

For a list of presentations, workshops and other resources from our Knowledge for Equity conference, please click HERE.


Ending Health Disparities Means Building the Capacity to Change Communities

Ending health disparities means addressing its social determinants or attacking the problem at its roots where people live, work, and play. This means changing the conditions in communities of color that affect their health. This approach also requires changing the systems that impact these conditions.

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Community Matters: A Series About Building and Strengthening Community

Community Science is proud to announce the publication, Emerging Principles for Designing and Planning Community Change. This is the first report in the series called Community Matters: Action Principles, Frameworks, and Strategies, which is intended to share what decades of research and practice have taught us about building and strengthening community.

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Taking a Community Approach to Improving the Lives of Boys and Young Men of Color

Recent events have brought the challenges facing boys and young men of color in the United States to the forefront of the national debate. Despite decades-long efforts to eliminate discrimination and promote equal opportunity, boys and young men of color continue to face significant social and economic barriers that limit their opportunities for success. Many boys and young men of color are more likely to grow up in poverty, live in economically depressed communities, and attend low-performing schools when compared with other groups. Many are less likely to have a high school diploma, less likely to attend college or technical school, and more likely to be jobless than other groups as they move into early adulthood. Boys and young men of color are often the target of negative social and cultural perceptions related to their ethnic, cultural, linguistic, or racial background which may result in discrimination or unequal treatment by individuals or societal institutions. Negative or traumatic experiences stemming from these social and economic barriers may inflict psychological or emotional damage over time in the form of low self-image, depression, limited self-efficacy, and feelings of hopelessness.

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Working Toward Equitable Outcomes In Mississippi

In 2007, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation identified Mississippi as a key state where the Foundation would concentrate its grantmaking efforts; it has committed to supporting local communities for at least a generation. The Foundation works with grantee partners that are implementing programs and initiatives designed to improve the lives of children and families throughout the state, with grants concentrated in the geographic areas of Biloxi; Sunflower County; and the state capitol, Jackson.

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Community Science Conducts Successful Webinar on Assessing the Effectiveness of Affordable Care Act Outreach and Education Efforts

As part of our recognition of National Minority Health Month, Community Science hosted a webinar How to Assess the Effectiveness of Affordable Care Act Outreach and Education Efforts on April 29, 2015. Kien Lee (Vice President and Principal Associate) and Oscar Espinosa (Senior Associate) discussed strategies and lessons learned from an evaluation project their team completed for the Department of Health and Human Services’ National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities (NPA). The purpose of the webinar was to provide insights to others who are conducting, funding, or planning Affordable Care Act (ACA) outreach or education to racially and ethnically diverse populations. 

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Staff Profile: Tracy Neill Joins Community Science

Tracy Neill, Office Manager, joined Community Science in February 2015. She brings over 20 years in office management experience, including management of small businesses. At Community Science, she manages the company’s facilities and administrative functions, as well as provides support for human resources, financial management, marketing and event management, and report production. She oversees the adherence and compliance of office policies and procedures, coordinates travel arrangements, administers the company benefits, and manages the company’s website and production of marketing materials.

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Sharing What We Learn

Creating a Culture of Measurement and Evaluation for High Performance Nonprofits

On May 14, 2015, Community Science Principal Associate Meg Hargreaves, Ph.D., M.P.P., presented at the 7th Civil Society Days Nirun Sahingiray International Forum II titled Measurement and Evaluation in NonProfit Organizations in Istanbul, Turkey. 

Developing Goals, Metrics, and Indicators for Health Equity Evaluations

On May 20, 2015, Community Science Principal Associate Meg Hargreaves, Ph.D., M.P.P., presented at the 7th Annual Empowering Communities for a Healthy Mississippi Conference titled Lead, Connect, and Inspire in Jackson, Mississippi.

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Staff Profile: Hilary E. Jones, Director of Business Operations

Hilary E. Jones, Director of Business Operations, has over 20 years of business management experience in a professional services environment. At Community Science, she is responsible for managing company administrative functions, including financial management, strategic planning, contract administration, marketing and communications, human resources, facilities and administrative operations. 

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Digging Deep For National Food Policy

Kien Lee, Ph.D., Principal Associate/Vice President, presented at the 13th Annual Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders Forum, “Digging Deeper,” June 23-25, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. In her session titled Building Grassroots Capacity to Influence National Food Policy: Lessons from Everybody at the Table for Health, Dr. Lee discussed an evaluation conducted by Community Science for EAT4Health, a three-year, multifunder experiment of the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, enabling grassroots organizations at the frontline of broken food systems to engage in national advocacy. 

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Reflections on the Five Cs of Monastic Life

Sinead Younge, PhD, Community Science Managing Associate

This summer, I had the privilege of volunteering at the Sera Jey Monastic University as a volunteer with the Emory University Tibet Science Initiative  (ETSI). The Sera Jey Monastery follows a centuries old tradition and culture dating back to its founding in Lhasa, Tibet. During a 1959 revolt against the Chinese occupation, colleges at the original Sera Jey in Lhasa were destroyed. The Indian government generously provided currency in the form of land and grants for many of the surviving Tibetan monks to reestablish some of their monasteries in India under the spiritual guidance of His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama. Today, the Sera Jey Monastery in Bylakuppe, India, houses over 3,000 monks and nuns and is located within a thriving, protected Tibetan settlement comprised of over 70,000 Tibetan expatriates where individuals and communities work through collective action to strengthen community, maintain Tibetan culture, and promote well-being. 

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Truth Initiative’s Historically Black College and University Tobacco-Free Initiative

The number of smoke- and tobacco-free colleges has more than tripled since 2010, when 446 campuses adopted smoke- or tobacco-free policies. Today that number stands at 1,577 campuses, yet the majority of the federally recognized Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the U.S. do not have comprehensive smoke- or tobacco-free policies to protect their students and faculty from the dangers of tobacco use and second-hand smoke. Truth Initiative (formerly The Legacy Foundation) saw HBCUs as an opportunity to reach Black/African American students and surrounding communities by implementing a new tobacco-free initiative. Tobacco is the number one cause of preventable death in the U.S. Each year, approximately 47,000 African Americans die from smoking-related disease. While the overall use of cigarettes among youth in the U.S. has declined, smoking among ethnic minorities is still prevalent.

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Staff Profile: Sofia Sabirova, M.S.

Sofia Sabirova, M.S., Research Assistant, has focused on assessing the impact of social and economic factors on health disparities, and the influence of legal and social factors on incarceration rates in federal and state prisons, during her professional career. At Community Science, she works on various projects, including an assessment of the National Resource Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention (NRC), and an evaluation of the Youth Justice Leadership Institute, a project of the National Juvenile Justice Network. Sofia collects, analyzes, and summarizes quantitative and qualitative data. 

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Community Science at AEA

The American Evaluation Association (AEA) held their Annual Conference in Chicago, Illinois, November 9-14, 2015. Community Science presented during various sessions and workshops. A major focus of our work this year was systems change evaluation using cross case study methodology. Check out our team in action!

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Evaluating Health Equity Efforts in Connecticut

Community Science has been working with the Connecticut Health Foundation since 2007, evaluating their work to promote a healthy state. Check out this blog post written by Kien Lee, Ph.D., Principal Associate/Vice President, and Sinead Younge, Ph.D., Managing Associate, about last year’s evaluation findings.


Check out Community Science at these upcoming conferences this fall!

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Putting Community into Community Resilience

Within past decades, there has been a shift toward understanding community resilience, which is characterized by a community’s ability to rebound and adapt following disruptions, such as natural and human-caused disasters. Although some assert that the term community resilience is a buzzword, Community Science views it as a useful framework for conceptualizing how key actors, including local residents and organizations, can strengthen their community’s ability to prevent, withstand, and mitigate such stressors. Recently, we developed a community resilience framework, expanding on other community resilience models related to disaster.

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Staff Profile: Marcella Hurtado Gómez, Associate

Marcella Hurtado Gómez, Ph.D., Associate, has expertise in social issues related to immigrant populations, the utilization of evidence-based programming with ethnic minority youth and families, and managing grant-funded programs in community-based organizations. Dr. Hurtado Gómez has 10 years of experience in conducting, analyzing, and disseminating research. She has expertise in program monitoring and evaluation, running statistical analysis, writing outcome reports, and presenting findings in pragmatic terms to a variety of audiences. She has worked on projects involving large data sets and building research studies from the ground up.

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Community Science Participates in a Day of Service

Community Science participated in its biannual day of service at A Wider Circle on September 18, 2015. A Wider Circle is a nonprofit organization with a mission to end poverty. Through programs targeting job preparedness, health and wellness, and housing, A Wider Circle addresses the needs of the whole person. One of their programs, Neighbor-to-Neighbor, provides beds, dressers, tables, and other large and small home goods free of charge to individuals in need. Earlier in 2015, A Wider Circle opened a program office in Barry Farm, a neighborhood in Southeast Washington, DC. 

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Evaluation Capacity Building in Context: Innovating for Optimal Social Impact and Advocating for Change

Evaluation capacity building for improved organizational and system learning has been part of Community Science’s practice from our beginning. We see evaluation capacity building as having all the abilities and motivation to learn how to do better by systematically using data and others sources of reliable information to make decisions.  Public and private organizations and public agencies have an obligation to continuously strive to equitably provide the best services and supports possible to individuals, families, and communities. In order to do that, there needs to be the capacity in place to evaluate and then improve the work of these collaborations and organizations. These days, just about every organization that receives funding from any public or private entity is expected to do some data collection and reporting. This global movement to use data is being further fueled by the advancements in information technology. There is a virtual Home Depot of evaluation tools available on line.

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The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program’s Contribution to Community Resilience

As one of the largest volunteer networks in the U.S., the Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS) Senior Corps Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) aims to engage volunteers aged 55 and over to support disaster preparedness, response, and recovery, and increase community resiliency. In 2013 and 2014, CNCS provided Disaster Services Augmentation Grants for several RSVPs. These grants focused on addressing the 2014 Hurricane Sandy recovery in New York and a range of disasters that happened in 2013, including floods in northern Colorado; a flash flood in Waynesville, Michigan; a tornado in Moore, Oklahoma; and a fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas. In the aftermath of disaster, RSVPs deployed thousands of volunteers who played key roles in various activities such as developing disaster preparedness kits, operating volunteer reception centers and call centers, performing direct outreach to disaster victims, rebuilding homes, and managing donation centers. 

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New Projects at Community Science

Community Science is working on several new projects. They reflect our commitment to advancing the science around building the capacity of organizations to develop healthy and equitable communities.

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Urban Universities Diversify the Healthcare Workforce

Data-informed decision-making and a stronger, more effective healthcare workforce. This is one of the goals of the Urban Universities for Health Equity through Alignment, Leadership, and Transformation of the Health Workforce (UU4HEALTH). To achieve this goal requires a systematic process for identifying metrics that can be used to help university leaders understand the state of diversity among their institutions’ student population and faculty, and how this could impact our nation’s future healthcare workforce. Equally important, the data for the metrics must be feasible to collect across health profession colleges—consistently and in a sustainable manner. This article describes the UU4HEALTH initiative and Community Science’s involvement. 

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Staff Profile: Daniel Pagán, M.A., M.P.H.

Daniel Pagán, M.A., M.P.H., is a Research Assistant at Community Science. He assists with data collection and analysis, literature reviews, and report writing for several projects, including the Office of Minority Health’s Community Data-Sharing Initiative and the national evaluation of the National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities. Prior to working at Community Science, Daniel spent time working for two county departments of public health as a Randal Lewis Health Policy Fellow. As a fellow, he developed a policy brief describing the county’s initiatives to reduce adolescent obesity, relating their successes to established theoretical concepts and allowing for a deeper understanding of their programs. He has extensive experience working in health promotion on a wide range of topics including adolescent obesity, tobacco use and marketing, and utilizing data and theory for program development. 

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Advancing Implementation Science to Address Adverse Childhood Experiences

Research has shown that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) involving child abuse, neglect, and household violence as well as mental illness, incarceration, and substance abuse are linked to a lifetime of poor health outcomes. ACEs disrupt brain development and harm the immune system, resulting in cognitive impairment, risky health behaviors, chronic disease, and early death. An international network of researchers, health officials, foundations, service agencies, and community advocates is working to increase awareness of the harm of ACEs and develop effective strategies for their prevention, mitigation, and treatment. As the evaluator of several important ACEs initiatives, Community Science is developing groundbreaking evaluation tools and approaches to advance the science of how to address this complex problem more effectively at multiple levels. 

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The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities

The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Palix Foundation’s Alberta Family Wellness Initiative, is leading the three-year initiative Change in Mind: Applying Neurosciences to Revitalize Communities. The initiative aims to help service providers infuse research on adverse childhood experiences, toxic stress, and brain development into their organizations’ programs, practices, and policies, and work with others to support systems and policy change, impacting child and family outcomes across the life course. Fifteen nonprofit organizations will lead these efforts across communities in the U.S. and Alberta, Canada.

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Staff Profile: Deryn Dudley

Deryn Dudley, M.A., Associate, has expertise in collective action and social movement participation, mental health disparities, and education. She is experienced in using both quantitative and qualitative research methods and with evaluating community change and collective impact initiatives. At Community Science, Deryn is responsible for evaluating the Office of Minority Health’s Youth Health Equity Model of Practice and is a member of the team that is evaluating the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Resource Center for Mental Health Promotion and Substance Abuse Prevention.

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Annual Charitable Giving Campaign Provides Support to 17 Organizations

In December 2015, Community Science staff members were asked to identify an organization they would like support. A $100 donation was made on their behalf to 12 organizations representing various causes locally, nationally, and worldwide:

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Senior Analyst Publishes Recent Article

Allyssa Allen, Ph.D., Senior Analyst, recently published an article in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. The study examined the moderating effect of race in the link between food insecurity and diet quality.


Institutionalizing Workforce Diversity: What It Really Takes to Make It Work

Programs designed to enhance opportunities for young people and adults from historically underrepresented groups in professions such as teaching, engineering, evaluation, medicine, and nursing play a major role in our nation’s response to workforce diversity (see, for example, Collins & Hopson, 2014; Fenwick, 2001; Greer, Clark, & Bankston, 2015; Nivet & Berlin, 2014). This article discusses why such programs are necessary and what it takes to institutionalize workforce diversity without compromising the focus on equity—ensuring that everyone is treated fairly before and after they enter the profession regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, and other demographic characteristic—and quality—holding everyone, regardless of their background, to the highest level of competency and professional standards.

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Not As Easy As It Seems: The Challenges and Opportunities to Build Community Capacity to Use Data for Decisions and Solutions

Achieving health equity requires building communities’ capacity to mobilize, organize, and strategize to change the conditions—or social determinants of health—that impact their well-being. Community and resident-driven organizations need data to 1) bring attention to the disparities and move people into action, 2) understand the root causes and organize across sectors to deal with those root causes, 3) inform solutions that will create lasting change, and 4) monitor the change to continuously adapt and improve the solutions. To achieve all these, communities have to be able to access, share, and transform data into actionable knowledge.

Section 4302 of the Affordable Care Act and the federal government’s increased willingness and capacity to make data available to the public have elevated the importance of data in generating solutions to end health inequities. Today’s technology has stimulated the expansion of data platforms that allow users to download data and use data visualization techniques to illustrate health, education, housing, and other disparities by race and ethnicity, gender, geography, and other variables. Many guides have been published to assist communities to access and use data. In addition, there are many national organizations and groups such as the Community Indicators Consortium, National Neighborhood Indicators Project, and Healthy Communities Institute that are actively working with local data collaboratives to facilitate a learning community of people working at the nexus of data analytics and community change. There are even more local organizations with a similar agenda, such as The Piton Foundation, DataHaven, and Data Driven Detroit that are serving as intermediaries for data gathering, analysis, and use.

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Building System Capacity. SAMHSA’s National Resource Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention Performance Assessment

The Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides funding in support of the National Resource Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention (NRC). The purpose of the NRC is to provide resources and training that increase the effectiveness of youth violence prevention programs; support the prevention of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders; and promote healthy development of children and youth from birth to 21 years old, especially among vulnerable populations. The NRC is comprised of two grant programs to select states, territories, tribal entities, and communities: Safe Schools/Healthy Students (SS/HS) and Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health). The NRC is administered by American Institutes for Research (AIR), which provides training and technical assistance (T/TA) to these two grant programs and the field at large that build state, local, and tribal grantee capacities to successfully implement project activities and to scale up and sustain activities once federal funding ends.

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Staff Profile: Michael Marks

Michael B. Marks, Ph.D., Managing Associate at Community Science, has over 35 years of experience in senior-level administration, public policy and advocacy, research and evaluation, and direct social service positions primarily in the fields of child welfare, juvenile justice, and youth development. Dr. Marks also has consulted with states and counties and led international work adapting innovative community-based service models within child welfare and probation departments. Prior to joining Community Science, Dr. Marks worked as a Senior Researcher at the American Institutes for Research. In this position, he served as Director for the Organizational Commitments Project for the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities

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Developing Evaluators’ Capacities to Work With Minority Serving Institutions

Educational institutions have always played a critical role in leading important research in our nation. They also have been a place for demonstration initiatives aimed not only at improving the intellectual capacity of our next generation of leaders, but also their health and well-being. Minority serving institutions (MSIs) are no different; they are emerging as critical partners for evaluators and researchers for efforts designed to promote the health and well-being of communities of color. MSIs are two- and four-year institutions of higher education that serve primarily minority populations. MSIs include Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as well as newer designees, for example, Hispanic Serving Institutions and Tribal Colleges and Universities. There continues, however, limited ability among researchers and evaluators—both White and of color—to collaborate effectively with MSIs, in part because they lack understanding about these institutions’ history and diversity, which is more complex and extensive than it appears to the outsider.

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The Community Data Collaboration Project: Developing and Testing a Framework for Community Data Use Capacity

Data-informed strategies are critical to efforts that address health disparities and make progress toward health equity. Administrative data, as well as other national and local data, offer a wealth of resources that can be put to good use. Community Science and its partner, Community Indicators Consortium, is working with a federal agency to mine lessons from the field about facilitating community collaboration around the use of administrative and other secondary data related to social determinants of health.  

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It Is Time to Take a Look at Collaborating for Equity and Justice

Collaborating for community or other types of social changes is not a recent idea. Formal community collaborations have been documented, along with corresponding literature, for almost 150 years. Explicit federal and philanthropic funding for collaborative efforts to address social issues began to burgeon during the 1980s. Before the end of the last century, it was rare to find a public or private Request for Proposal or grant program in the health and human services that did not require some form of collaboration, whether it was called a coalition, partnership, or collaborative. 

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Staff Profile: Allyssa Allen

Allyssa Allen, Ph.D., Senior Analyst, has expertise in health equity and social determinants of health (SDOH) such as neighborhood-level food insecurity, income inequality, and residential segregation. She has worked on a variety of projects, including substantial experience working with grassroots organizations to use data to guide intervention and policy strategies. Dr. Allen has collaborated with the Druid Heights Community Development Corporation and the Baltimore Place Matters Team (Equity Matters) to pair neighborhood indicators from various public use sources with qualitative interviews about the local food environment. In her work on the National Institute on Aging’s Healthy Aging in Neighborhoods of Diversity Across the Life Span (HANDLS) study, she combined individual-level health data with neighborhood indicators to understand the SDOH in Baltimore City neighborhoods. Dr. Allen is skilled in community engagement as well as participatory and community-based research and evaluation methodologies. She has been recognized by the Baltimore City Council for her community work in Druid Heights and by the Warnock Foundation as a Social Innovator for her ideas on how to repair relationships between researchers and communities. 

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Community Science Day of Service

On April 28, Community Science participated in its semi-annual day of service at A Wider Circle. A Wider Circle is a nonprofit organization based in Silver Spring, Maryland, with a mission to end poverty. A Wider Circle focuses on the whole person through various services targeting workforce readiness, wellness, and housing. Community Science staff spent the day sorting furniture and clothing, and restocking the showroom. 

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Staff Profile: Ryan Schooley

Ryan Schooley, M.Ed., Analyst, has experience researching community engagement and community development issues, and working with community organizing coalitions and interventions to increase educational and social development. At Community Science, he assists with literature reviews, quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis, and report writing for multiple projects related to community engagement, behavioral health, health equity, and sense of community. 

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What Have We Learned About Evaluating Equity-Promoting Efforts

The recent tragic incident at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and the many similar incidents before that continue to bring to the surface issues about mental health (feelings of hopelessness, sense of isolation, and mismanaged anger), broken systems (ability of individuals with mental health issues to purchase assault weapons so easily), sense of community (individuals’ need to belong to a group of people with shared experiences), and intersectionality (people who struggle with multiple social identities, but societal and group norms prescribe which singular identity they should have). The incident was triggered by hatred toward a group of people with different sexual orientations and gender identities; there has been speculation that the perpetrator himself may have been struggling with multiple social identities. The incident unleashed more fear and prejudice against an entire community of people with a different faith. The incident also fueled national debate about gun control, causing some to sharpen their focus on stopping the violence and others to become more adamant about the ability to purchase weapons to protect themselves and their loved ones. The entire situation reflects a complex web of biases, misconceptions, systemic issues, and the human need to belong, that combined, can create inequitable outcomes for certain communities.

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Evaluation of Racial Equity Here, a National Initiative to Build the Capacity of Municipal Governments to Promote Equity

A thriving democracy requires municipal governments to be able to set the stage for achieving racial equity because they have power and influence, especially if they work in partnership with other organizations and leaders to leverage and expand opportunities and resources for the places they govern and the communities they serve. Living Cities and the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE—a project of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at University of California-Berkeley and the Center for Social Inclusion) have joined together in an effort, Racial Equity Here, to achieve racial equity and advance opportunities for all in five cities: Albuquerque, Austin, Grand Rapids, Louisville, and Philadelphia. City government leaders in these cities will complete a racial equity assessment of their core government operations, with an intentional focus on adults and youth of color, ages 16 to 24. Over a two-year period, the five municipal governments will receive training and technical assistance from GARE to develop a blueprint of government-wide strategies and begin execution of the blueprint by applying the skills, tools, and processes they developed through assistance from GARE.

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Staff Profile: Angela Thrasher

Angela Thrasher, PhD, MPH, Managing Associate, bridges the areas of research and practice to build organizational and community capacity to advance social and health equity. She has over 20 years of experience in directing large- and small-scale research, needs assessment, evaluation, organizational development, and technical assistance projects for philanthropic, nonprofit, and governmental organizations. Dr. Thrasher uses a range of methodologies, collecting and analyzing both qualitative and quantitative data, primarily in service of projects to improve the health of communities of color, low income, and located in rural regions. Her specialty is measurement, working with community-based organizations and multisector planning bodies to identify and use appropriate metrics for program development, monitoring, and evaluation purposes. Other areas of expertise and interest include racism as a social determinant of health, African American healthcare disparities, HIV/AIDS, aging, community engagement, and collaboration for community change. 

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Purposeful Learning -- learning from our work and lives

Challenging and/or positive experiences create powerful opportunities for learning using reflective practice, the process of witnessing one’s own experience in order to take a closer look at it. By developing the ability to explore and be curious about our own experience and actions, we open up the possibilities of purposeful learning— learning derived not from books or experts, but from our work and our lives.


In this article, Community Science Senior Associate Joy Amulya writes about reflective practice and why it’s important to generating learning. Purposeful learning is an important component of Innovating for Social Impact, a new and powerful approach Community Science has developed that is intended to improve the organizational effectiveness of philanthropic, nonprofit and government groups.


There Is Nothing More Practical than a Good Evaluation

Community Science Principal Associate and CEO David Chavis was an invited presenter at the International Conference on the Empirical Study of Evaluation Utilization sponsored by CLEAR-LA (www.clear-la.org) on May 23–24 2016, in Mexico City. CLEAR-LA is part of the global partnership of regional Centers for Learning on Evaluation and Results (CLEAR, www.theclearinitiative.org). The conference was attended by over 100 policymakers and evaluators from across Latin America and hundreds of others through live streaming. 

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