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Working Together to Keep Kids on the Right Path

Community Science associate discusses impact of community on juvenile justice and delinquency prevention.

Recently, Community Science Senior Associate LaKeesha Woods had an opportunity to address the Maryland Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention Juvenile Council.

Dr. Woods presented Advancing Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Initiatives through a Comprehensive Continuum of Community Care, which offered strategies to strengthen current efforts and address gaps in delinquency prevention and disproportionate minority contact reduction.

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Communities- Supporting Connections Between Users

David Chavis Speaks at 3rd Annual VirComm Summit in London

Last month, Community Science President/CEO David Chavis, Ph.D., took a trip across “the pond” to participate in the 3rd Annual VirComm Summit. Dr. Chavis joined seven   internationally recognized experts in London, February 20-21, 2014, to discuss the strategies and processes for building successful virtual  communities based on social science research.

Dr. Chavis’s presentation focused on theories originally introduced in a paper he co-authored with David McMillan in 1986, Sense of Community: A Definition and Theory. This work is widely recognized as one of the most important social science theories on communities, and centers on the ideas of bonding, bridging, and linking.

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Capacity Building - Affecting Community Health Through Data and Program Evaluation

Kien Lee Speaks at University of Connecticut’s Health Disparities Institute Seminar Series

Kien Lee, Ph.D, Community Science Principal Associate and Vice President, was one of four expert speakers invited to speak during the inaugural year of the University of Connecticut’s Health Disparities Institute’s seminar series.

Dr. Lee’s 45-minute presentation was titled Capacity Building — Affecting Community Health Improvement through Data and Program Evaluation.

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Community Science Featured on PBS for SNAP Program Evaluation

Led by Community Science Principal Associate Ricardo Millett and Senior Associate LaKeesha Woods, and reported at pbs.org, the Healthy Food Incentives Cluster Evaluation found that when farmers markets incentivize the use of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, the consumption of fruits and vegetables increases.

The study looked at "matched-dollar" incentive programs at more than 500 farmers markets in 24 states and the District of Columbia to see if people using SNAP, which provides financial assistance to low-income families, would purchase healthier options.

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Community Science Gives Back

Charitable giving, community service, and pro-bono assistance were a big part of 2013.

In what has become a twice-yearly tradition - and the highlight of our giving - Community Science staff volunteered both time and effort to A Wider Circle. It's a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in Silver Spring, MD that helps move people out of poverty through dignified assistance with professional clothing, toys, home furnishings, job preparation, and relationship building.

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The People Behind the Science

Community Science represents a network of leading community development practitioners and scientists in the United States and Europe, with offices in Maryland, Italy and Portugal.

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Principal Associate Ricardo Millett, Ph.D., joins National Advisory Council of The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at the University of Texas at Austin

The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at The University of Texas at Austin recently appointed Community Science's Principal Associate Ricardo Millett, Ph.D., to its National Advisory Council.

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Community Science Wins SBIR Grant

Community Science wins Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant for new product to promote cross-cultural and linguistic competency (CLC) to reduce health disparities.

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Principal Associate Kien Lee wins Award for Distinguished Contributions to Practice in Community Psychology

As the Society for Community Research and Action's (SCRA) 2013 Biennial Conference, "Communal Thriving: Pursuing Meaning, Justice and Well-Being," came to a close at the University of Miami, Dr. Lee was called to the stage to accept the American Psychological Association's (APA) Award for Distinguished Contributions to Practice in Community Psychology.

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Senior Associate LaKeesha Woods co-authors article for American Journal of Public Health

This article, entitled "The Role of Prevention in Promoting Continuity of Health Care in Prisoner Reentry Initiatives," evaluates the Connecticut Building Bridges Community Reentry Initiative. It   presents an evidence-based framework for prevention that aims to improve the lives of returning citizens, their families and communities.  The framework helps proactively identify barriers and environmental triggers that might threaten these individuals' successful reintegration. The recommended approach suggests the need for a more holistic treatment of health needs for these populations, as well as a heightened awareness of the risks related to their reentry into society.

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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.

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The Impact of Cross-Cultural Competency

Understanding cultural and social contexts goes a long way towards increasing equity for all.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Minority Health, cultural and linguistic competence is defined as "...a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations."
But what does this mean in the real world? And what is its impact on overcoming disparities in health and social services?

One word: Understanding.

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Community Science Works With Clients to Build Cross-Cultural Competencies

Community Science works with all our clients to translate the understanding of context, described above, into a comprehensive strategy to strengthen individuals', organizations', and systems' capacity to effectively serve diverse children, youth, adults, and families. The following efforts are just a few examples of the impact of cross-cultural competency on reducing health disparities, achieving health equity, promoting social justice, and improved systems of care.

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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.

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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.  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.

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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.

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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.

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Community Science Celebrates 15 years of Pasison combined with Knowledge

2012 marks Community Science's 15th anniversary, a long way from its humble beginings as the dream of David Chavis and Kien Lee. Since its founding in 1997 (in David's basement), Community Science has measured its growth and success not in increased staff or earnings, but by the impact it has had on the organizations and communities it serves.

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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.

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Evaluating the Andrus Family Fund's Community Reconciliation Program

Community Science worked with the Andrus Family Fund (AFF) to assess its Community Reconciliation Program and develop a theory of change for its future work in this area.

Continue reading to find out more about Community Science’s work in developing a theory of change that AFF board and staff members will use to help analyze applications and provide clearer information to applicants about the strategies and anticipated outcomes AFF supports.

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How the MAAX Program is Having a Positive Impact on the Academic Aspirations of Urban Youth

Community Science Senior Associate Dr. LaKeesha Woods is one of the co-authors of an article in the Winter issue of  The Community Psychologist entitled "Creating a safe space to learn: The significant role of graduate students in fostering educational engagement and aspirations among urban youth." 

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Works in Progress

Building Healthy Communities: Capacity for Community Change Assessment- Community Science has been leading the research and development of the instruments and methods to assess the capacity of The California Endowment’s 14 Building Healthy Communities sites in order to benchmark and plan place based capacity building.  Community Science’s role is to receive and analyze assessment questionnaires and then report the results in an easy to read and use format.

New Generation Community Change - Community Science is assisting the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF) to determine what they and other funders have learned and are experimenting with in order to create community changes that provide opportunities for children and their caregivers.  The culmination of this foundation wide learning process will come in January with a retreat where we expect to develop strategic options for future community change work based on evidence from the research and the practical experience of other funders.

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Community Change Initiatives: Community Science at the Forefront

Community Science has long been recognized for our expertise in the development, implementation and evaluation of comprehensive community and other large systems change initiatives.

Here's a brief overview of our work on three Community Change Initiatives:

Crossroads Charlotte: Community Science is working with The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to learn about the impact of the Foundation’s grant making in Charlotte, North Carolina through a project called Crossroads Charlotte.

Building Healthy Communities: Community Science continues to work with The California Endowment on executing its strategic vision - bringing about community change in order to make measurable differences in improving the health of underserved communities and in creating environments where children are healthy, safe and ready to learn.

Next Generation Community Change: What have we learned about implementing successful CCIs? What works and what doesn't? The Annie E. Casey Foundation has contracted with Community Science to help them plan the next generation of CCIs for the foundation.

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Is Your Organization Cross-Culturally Competent?

It's a tough question to answer but a necessary one if your organization is to work effectively in cross-cultural situations. For the past several years, Community Science has been researching this issue as well as working on projects that have focused on evaluating the cross-cultural competency of organizations and other initiatives.

Based on our work, including an extensive literature review, we are in the process of developing an organizational cross-cultural competency assessment, a unique tool that assesses the readiness of organizations to engage in an effort to build its cross-cultural competency and measures the cross-cultural competency of the organizations, not the individuals within the organization. 

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New Client: Knight Foundation

Community Science is working with the John S. and James L Knight Foundation to document and assess the impact of Crossroads Charlotte, an initiative with the goal of creating an inclusive and equitable community in Charlotte, North Carolina, by building organizational capacity for change and developing the leadership to implement change.  Using qualitative and quantitative methods, Community Science's team is examining the impact of the initiative through interviews with key stakeholders and a survey of community leaders.

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Introducing Our New Model: Innovating for Social Impact

We're proud to launch a five-point model called Innovating for Social Impact, which enables Community Science to work with organizations where change management is an ongoing process and finding solutions for complex social problems is an urgent mission.

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In Print: Strategic Factors for Building Community

The Five C's: Community, Connections, Control, Cash, & Collective Action

First published in 2006, this Community Science publication continues to resonate with capacity building practitioners today.  The Austin, TX chapter of the Community Associations Institute highlighted the article on the cover of its Q2 journal.

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Kien Lee Appointed to Statewide Commission on the Impact of Immigrants

Principal Associate Kien Lee was appointed by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley to be part of a member Commission to Study the Impact of Immigrants in Maryland, including a study of the demographic profile, and the economic and fiscal impacts of immigration. The appointment is recognition of Lee’s work on immigrant integration for Community Science clients throughout the years. Continue to check back for periodic updates on the Commission.

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NEW CLIENT: The Partnership for a Drug-Free America

Community Science to evaluate effectiveness of Parents: You Matter! for this nationally known organization

Community Science was recently hired for a 10-month engagement with The Partnership for a Drug-Free America to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the Partnership's "Parents: You Matter!" program -- a community education presentation designed to educate parents of 12- to 17-year-olds about adolescent substance abuse, as well as provide tools and resources to prevent it. For more information on this program, click here. 

What Does Our Community's Growing Diversity Have To Do With Evaluation?

Like many areas of the country, Colorado's racial and ethnic populations have grown more diverse, particularly through an increase in immigrants and refugees. The Colorado Trust wanted to ensure that its grant making and evaluations continue to evolve to better serve people of myriad cultures. With that goal in mind, they engaged Community Science to help deepen their understanding about what it takes to do a cross-culturally competent evaluation.

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What's Happening: The Importance of Building and Measuring a Sense of Community

Colorado's Neighborhood Liaison Forum - David Chavis and Joy Amulya discussed the importance of building and measuring a sense of community in Colorado. Dr. Chavis has written about the five strategic factors for building community in this article and for measuring a sense of community here.

For more information about the study of a sense of community, visit senseofcommunity.com

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A Murder in Broad Daylight

Greensboro, North Carolina. 1979.  Five members of the Communist Workers Party, holding a Death to the Klan rally, are killed in broad daylight.The murders are captured by TV cameras, yet no one is ever convicted of the crime.

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Kien Lee shares knowledge on the growing diversity of Montgomery County

Cultural diversity, intergroup relations, and immigrant integration are topics of continuing interest and Community 
Science Logoexploration for Community Science's Kien Lee. She recently participated in a Senior Leadership Montgomery Diversity Day event at Glen Echo Park in Maryland. Her presentation, entitled Deevali, Mooncakes, Eid, Salsa, etc., explored what leaders need to know to lead in a racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse community.

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Share, Vote, Discuss + Influence

ChangeThinkers.com logoChangeThinkers.com is a community of social change agents transforming the way ideas are shared -- not just for the causes we represent but for the way we practice and make change happen. We reconnect individuals, nonprofits and other community groups with funders and foundations to share information, from finding volunteers and crafting a great proposal to learning a new method. 

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In The Community

Community Science's Kien Lee has been selected to the Leadership Montgomery Class of 2010. Leadership Montgomery identifies a diverse spectrum of leaders in the community and provides a forum for them to address issues and effect positive civic change. 

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Boosting the Impact of a Foundation

Community Science helps measure progress

How does the work of Community Science directly impact a foundation's efforts to help its grantees? We talked to Jane Mosley, PhD, Program Officer for The Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City (HCF), which works to eliminate barriers to quality health care for uninsured and underserved in its service area. 
The Change Agent: What particular obstacles does HCF face in working with grantees?  
Jane Mosley: One of our key issues, a key obstacle, is in our ability to report on what the grantees are doing. Grantees are great at providing services, but collecting data and information to actually quantify their impact - that's a challenge for them. That's a need for them and not just for us.

To find out how Community Science is helping HCF overcome data reporting challenges, click below to read the full Q&A with Jane Mosley.

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Community Science Principals Participate in National Health Disparities Plan Consensus Meeting

In 2006, the Office of Minority Health (OMH) sponsored the inaugural National Leadership Summit on Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health. A direct outcome of the Summit was the formation of the National Partnership for Action (NPA) to end health disparities for minority populations. OMH asked Community Science principals to participate in a consensus meeting to advance the NPA's first national health disparities plan, with David Chavis serving on the Evaluation Advisory Group and Kien Lee on the Implementation Planning Group.

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Special ASDC Report:

The Importance of Culture in Evaluation A Practical Guide for Evaluators Cross Cultural Guide The Importance of Culture in Evaluation, a publication funded by The Colorado Trust, provides examples of where cross-cultural competency is critical in evaluation. While not intended to be the definitive answer to all questions about cross-culturally competent evaluation, it provides a good start in recommending questions and strategies that an evaluator should consider when practicing this form of competency.

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Currency through Diversity

Foundations that believe in a just and equitable society must do more to address diversity and equality issues -- or risk failing in their missions.

Community Science's Dr. Ricardo A. Millett recently prepared a case study for Diversity in Philanthropy, a group committed to increasing field-wide diversity through open dialogue and strategic action to increase effectiveness and impact.

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A New Model to Fight Childhood Obesity

Among the more challenging issues facing our poorest communities is childhood obesity. Marginalized communities face formidable barriers to healthy dietary habits and lifestyles including access to healthy foods and to recreational spaces for exercise. 

Community Science has just completed an evaluation of a public education campaign intended to combat childhood obesity.

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Torn From Home: My Life as a Refugee

Most children cannot imagine being forced from their homes. Today, more than 30 million people around the world have been displaced due to war and violence. Of those, nearly 10 million are children. Torn From Home: My Life as a Refugee is an exhibit that takes young audiences on an inspiring, hands-on journey into the lives of refugee children.

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Enlisting a Community to Fight Childhood Obesity

Being black and poor in Washington D.C.'s Ward 8 increases the probability of obesity, particularly in young people. A 2008 Rand health study found that 71.2% of Ward 8 residents were overweight or obese, the highest rate of any Ward in the city. A survey of teens and adults conducted by the Hospital for Sick Children Foundation revealed that awareness of obesity as a health issue in the Ward is very low. The Ward also gets the lowest marks in the city for access to grocery stores, availability of community gardens and little organized community effort to educate residents to consider healthier lifestyles.

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Culturally Competent Capacity Builders: What will it take?

How are changing demographics and growing diversity affecting the nonprofit workforce? The task of helping nonprofit leaders manage diversity and, subsequently, improve their ability to comply with anti≠discrimination laws, leverage differences, and practice inclusivity, requires the expertise of professionals or capacity builders, trained to help nonprofit leaders understand how diversity can lead to effectiveness.

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In the Community... Excel Beyond the Bell

Supporting children and keeping them safe and engaged in a variety of out-of-school settings are goals of Excel Beyond the Bell, a partnership program in Maryland established by the Montgomery County Collaboration Council for Children, Youth and Families.

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No Wrong Door

Addressing the Spectrum of Needs for Youth with Serious Emotional Disturbance Helping children with serious emotional disturbances and their families requires an integrated, innovative approach to care and services. To that end, Nassau County, NY, is establishing the No Wrong Door Family Support System of Care (NWD-FSS) providing a single point of access to care for children and youth with serious emotional disturbance and their families. The program, modeled after Nassau's unique program of health and human services delivery known as No Wrong Door, represents a shift from top down medical models to a more collaborative team strategy. No Wrong Door offers a family-driven, youth-guided empowerment approach. Three accessible Family Resource Centers will offer a convenient gateway to multiple services, developed in targeted, high-needs communities.

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Also In the Community... A Renewal of Support for New Americans in Maryland

In December, 2008, Governor Martin O'Malley signed an executive order to create the Maryland Council for New Americans. The council aims to help integrate new immigrants into Maryland's workforce and civic life.

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Special ASDC Report

The Five Cís Strategic Factors for Building Community Have you ever wondered what would have the greatest and broadest impact on the well being of individuals, families, and communities? This brief report describes the strategic factors for stimulating community-wide health and well-being. It illustrates how each of the Five Cís - Community, Connections, Control, Cash and Collective Action - can be put together to develop an effective, broad-reaching, and sustainable community development strategy.

The Five Cs