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Community Science projects

Diversity & Inclusiveness

Study of Developing and Supporting Leadership with a Racial Equity and Social Justice Lens

There have been more and more questions about the definition, practice, and evaluation of effective leadership in philanthropy, especially leadership that has the concerns and priorities of communities of color in mind. In response, the Bush Foundation funded Community Science to conduct a brief study about the state-of-the-art knowledge about leading with a racial equity and social justice lens. Community Science’s team interviewed implementers and evaluators of leadership programs known for their focus on equity and social justice and thought leaders who have published extensively about leadership development, and it also reviewed publications related to the topic. The result is ten key considerations for leadership programs that emphasize racial equity and social justice as well as recommendations for evaluating such programs.

The key considerations and recommendations were disseminated to members of the Leadership Funders Group. The group allocated time during one of its meetings to discuss the findings and provided feedback to improve the paper. (2019)

Rapid Assessment of the Port of Portland's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategy

The Port of Portland, which oversees three airports, four marine terminals, and five business parks, adopted social equity as a strategy objective in 2013. To date, the organization has successfully engaged its leadership and division and department directors in the creation of equity plans and metrics, and worked to cultivate an organizational culture that values diversity and inclusion.

The Port engaged Community Science to help its leadership take a step back and reflect on the progress and outcomes of the equity plans to date. Community Science spent a week at the Port conducted interviews with key leaders and staff, and provided a series of recommendations for improving the implementation of the Port’s diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy.
The engagement provided the Port and Community Science with new insights about the competencies, relationships, and other supports needed to create an organizational environment that appreciates everyone regardless of their racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds; elevate racial equity, and at the same time, be able to respond to other inequities (e.g., gender inequity) and related organizational issues that emerge (e.g., human resources) as a result of confronting racial inequity; and design and implement policies that will contribute to more economically equitable communities surrounding the Port. (2019)

Development and Testing of an Innovation to Assess and Strengthen Organizations' Cultural Competency

Disparities in health access, use, care, and outcomes continue to affect racial and ethnic minorities and other underserved populations in the United States. One strategy for reducing healthcare disparities is improving health organizations’ cultural competency as culturally competent healthcare organizations and services can have a powerful impact on increasing the equity of care for racial and ethnic minorities.

Community Science received a Phase 2 Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities to develop and test an innovative product to assess and strengthen organizations’ cultural competency. The product, Journeystart, is unique in that it assesses organizational cultural competency (1) across three dimensions: policies and practices, staff attitudes and behaviors, and relationships with other organizations that serve the same populations as the organization being assessed; and (2) in six areas, from leadership to accessibility of services. The product includes computerized assessments, action planning tool kits, and use of dashboards with visual analytics to help Journeystart users understand and monitor their cultural competency. The product enables health organizations to establish a system and engage in a continuous process that will provide personalized feedback and comparative analysis to guide their cross-cultural competency development and ensure that all the people they serve have equal access to healthcare.

Nine organizations have become Journeystart users. Community Science has learned three major lessons to date, including (1) organizations continue to struggle with understanding and incorporating a lens that incorporates the social determinants of health into their health and healthcare strategies; (2) leadership and staff of organizations frequently have different understandings about their policies and practices that reflect cultural competency; and (3) the business case for cultural competency is still lacking, which makes it difficult to convince organizations to make building their cultural competency a priority. (2017-2019)

Building the Capacity of Active Voice to harness the power of film, television, and other forms of media to effect social change

In 2003, Active Voice engaged Community Science to evaluate its New Americans Campaign, which used the stories of several immigrant families to provoke dialogue and exchange between immigrants and receiving communities. As part of this evaluation, Community Science interviewed Active Voice partners in five cities to explore how they used the stories to address emerging immigrant issues in the community and how they benefited from their partnership with Active Voice. The evaluation resulted in a framework that delineated the role of Active Voice in effecting change through the use of media, as well as recommendations to guide Active Voice’s partnership criteria.

Community Science and Active Voice’s organizational leaders continued to enjoy mutually beneficial exchanges even after the above evaluation ended. For instance, Community Science participated in a meeting between Active Voice and the Ford Foundation to discuss the ongoing capacity building of Active Voice, based on the lessons learned from the New Americans Campaign.

In 2009, Active Voice contacted Community Science once again for assistance with two new projects—Greensboro: Closer to Truth film project and the Torn from Home museum exhibit. In our process evaluation of the Greensboro: Closer to Truth project (2009-2010), we are examining how three very different organizations are using the film to spark dialogue and action to help their communities heal from past and painful events.

Created by the Lied Discovery Children's Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Torn From Home traveling exhibit is enhanced by Active Voice’s role to intentionally connect the host venues with refugee-serving organizations. As part of the process evaluation of the Torn From Home exhibit (2009-2011), Community Science documents the number of exhibit visitors and interviews representatives from each host venue and participating organizations about first-time relationships and the value-added of Active Voice’s support. The findings are intended to strengthen Active Voice’s capacity to effect community change through the use of film, museum exhibits, and story-telling. (2009-present)

Assessment of Northern Virginia Refugee Youth’s Needs

The Catholic Diocese of Arlington Migration & Refugee Services (CDAMRS) engaged Community Science to assess the needs of refugee youth and their families in Northern Virginia and the issues faced by agencies in the area that serve these youth and their families. Parents and youth participate in focus groups while service providers are interviewed. The youth also are completing a questionnaire that assesses their risk and protective factors, based on a similar survey given to 6th, 8h, 10th, and 12th graders in Fairfax County, Virginia, in order to be able to draw comparisons between refugee and general population youth. Community Science revised the questionnaire to assess background information specific to refugee youth, and the language was edited to be more culturally appropriate. (2008–2010)

Community Needs Assessment Report

Community Science developed a community assessment report of Latino families in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties, Maryland in support of Centro Familia and Centro Nia’s grant application to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services related to early childhood education and support. Centro Familiar’s confidence in Community Science’s ability to complete this assignment in three months was based on our exemplary needs assessment of Head Start-eligible children and families in 2003 (described later). To complete the report requested by Centro Familia and Centro Nia, Community Science reviewed existing reports and data about Latino families in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties, their needs for early childhood education, and culturally and linguistically appropriate early childhood education in Latino families. (2009)

Evaluation of Project Harmony

Project Harmony is a project of the Family Equality Council that seeks to provide a voice to same-sex families of color and address issues such as racism, oppression, and economic justice. Community Science conducted a process evaluation of Project Harmony; our activities included a review of data collection instruments and quality of data gathered by the project’s staff during focus groups, observation of training events, and interviews with key stakeholders. The goal of the process evaluation was to prepare Project Harmony for implementation in subsequent years. (2008-2009)

Evaluation of Annie E. Casey Foundation's RESPECT

RESPECT is an affinity group within the foundation that focuses on racial and other forms of equity in the foundation’s grantmaking, operations, and services. Community Science was engaged by RESPECT in 2006 to help refine its theory of change and to assess its impact on the foundation through secondary data analysis. A year later (2007), RESPECT decided to extend our role to evaluate all aspects of RESPECT’s work as well as to analyze the degree to which selected foundation investment summaries reflect an intentional goal to promote diversity, inclusiveness, and equity. This contract has been renewed two times since then as Community Science incrementally evaluates more of RESPECT’s work. Our findings during the past two years have been used to promote dialogue among the foundation’s leadership and staff about ways to continuously integrate the value of diversity, inclusiveness, and equity into all aspects of the foundation’s work. (2006-2008)

Evaluation of the Diversifying Leadership for Sustainable Food Policy Initiative

This initiative is a three-year partnership between the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation to build the capacity of organizations, led by people of color, to advocate for more equitable food policies. Based on the recommendation of a nationally known evaluator and funder, the Noyes Foundation engaged Community Science to evaluate the extent to which the initiative is building the capacity of ten organizations across the country to advocate for the communities of color that they serve and to effect food-related policies at the local, state, and national levels. The evaluation includes pre- and post-advocacy capacity assessments, interviews with key staff and leaders in each community, and review of the ten grantees’ progress reports. The evaluation also examines the benefit of the partnership between the Noyes Foundation and the Kellogg Foundation. The evaluation findings and lessons learned to date about the supports required to build the advocacy capacity of people-of-color-led organizations were published in The Foundation Review, vol. 1, issue no. 3. (2006-present)

Evaluation of Cultural Competency Initiative

Community Science designed and implemented an evaluation of the Alliance for Nonprofit Management’s Cultural Competency Initiative. The evaluation process determined the extent to which the initiative achieved its goals, while also generating knowledge about what it takes to increase the cultural competency of nonprofit leaders. (2005-2007) Community Science published the evaluation’s findings in The OD Practitioner, 2009, Vol. 41, No. 2.

Evaluation of The Colorado Trust Supporting Immigrants and Refugee Families Immigrant Integration Strategy

Community Science is conducting the evaluation of The Colorado Trust’s Supporting Immigrant and Refugee Families (SIRFI) Immigrant Integration Strategy. Community Science was engaged to examine the impact of the strategy on ten Colorado communities from 2004 until 2009. Unlike previous models for assimilation and multiculturalism, The Colorado Trust's immigrant integration model recognizes the integration process as bi-directional and requires both the host community and newcomers to be responsible for making their community a better place for everyone.

The evaluation uses a mixed-method approach to answer three questions: 1) How do communities come together to collaborate and support immigrant integration? 2) Did the grantees achieve what they set out to accomplish? 3) Did the sense of integration among community residents, collaborative members, and project participants increase? Community Science’s evaluation team works closely with the foundation’s staff and coordinating agency to ensure seamless support to the grantees.

A final report was disseminated in the Spring of 2011.  (2004-2010)

Demographic Study of Immigrants in Howard County, Maryland

On behalf of the Foreign-born Information and Referral Network (FIRN), Community Science conducted a demographic study of immigrant groups in Howard County, Maryland. The different phases of the project included a socio-economic review to determine the growth of the immigrant population in the county, assessment of the assets and needs of the various immigrant groups in the county, and presentations about our findings to various audiences. (Read the Report or read about the study as covered in the newspaper The Business Monthly.) The results of our study helped inform the county’s five-year community strategic plan. (2004-2005)

In 2007, FIRN began a dialogue with Community Science about a second phase for the study, which involved a summit about how to strengthen the cultural competency of service providers in Howard County. Community Science worked closely with FIRN and an advisory committee to plan this summit, which occurred on October 6, 2008 at the James N. Robey Public Safety Training Center in Mariottsville. Community Science produced a summary of the three major activities during the summit: 1) sharing among the participants about their agencies and services, 2) three small group discussions on specific topics (information generated by two of the three groups were combined because the participants had similar discussions), and 3) next steps following the summit. (2008)

Building Community Amidst Diversity

This initiative’s predecessor, Valuing Diversity, was funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the American Psychological Association, and managed by Community Science from 2000 to 2002. In the Valuing Diversity project (described in more detail later), Community Science worked with a group of psychologists to develop guidelines for regranting and assisting two organizations interested in strengthening communities experiencing rapid demographic change. This experience deepened Community Science’s knowledge of what it takes to develop the capacity of organizations to build intergroup relations within a community-building framework. A year later, Community Science received a grant from the C.S. Mott Foundation to expand this effort to three communities. We worked with an advisory committee of community practitioners and funders to refine the guidelines for regranting. In these communities, intergroup relationships progressed from non-existence to initial dialogue and a growing sense of connection among groups of people from diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds. (2004-2008)

Evaluation of the Building Diversity Initiative

Two Gems Consulting Services engaged Community Science to help evaluate the American Evaluation Association (AEA) Building Diversity Initiative. (Community Science’s involvement in the development of the Building Diversity Initiative is described later.) The evaluation used qualitative and quantitative methods to determine the status of 14 recommendations proposed by the initiative’s advisory committee as necessary to increase the number of people of color engaged by AEA. (2007)

Contributor to Investing In Our Communities: Strategies for Immigrant Integration

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. (2005-2006)


Qualitative Documentation of Immigration Advocacy Work in the District of Columbia

As a subcontractor to the Touchstone Center for Collaboration Inquiry’s evaluation of the Immigrant Participation & Immigration Reform effort funded by the Four Freedom Fund, Community Science documented the experiences of national, regional, and local organizations that advocate for immigration policy reform. (2005)

Head Start Community Assessment

As mentioned earlier, Community Science conducted a community assessment that examined how Head Start-eligible children are cared for while their parents work and/or go to school; the parents' view of their children's educational and social service needs; and the feasibility of service delivery strategies under consideration to assist Montgomery County [Maryland] Department of Health and Human Services in their commitment to deliver high-quality services. The Community Science team also investigated how to improve outreach to African American, Latino, and immigrant groups, as well as how to improve Head Start's cross-cultural competency. Several methods were used for this assessment, including: demographic information analysis, focus groups with caregivers, survey of parents and other caregivers, interviews, and a series of discussions with a group of child care providers. (2003)

Assessment of Racial and Ethnic Minority Families in Montgomery County, Maryland

Community Science worked with the Montgomery County Collaboration Council on Children, Youth, and Families to identify issues and concerns affecting racial and ethnic minority families and children in the county. The Council used the information to inform its strategy development. As part of the process, Community Science staff interviewed community leaders, advocates, and county staff, and identified existing documentation about the well-being of low-income, African American, and immigrant families in the county. Community Science also helped the council identify and implement strategies for strengthening two communities within the county, as well as strategies for building cross-cultural competence in general. (2003)

Understanding Immigrant Civic Participation

With support from The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, Community Science convened in 2000 a group of immigrant leaders in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area to develop strategies for increasing immigrant civic participation. Participants learned from each other about the meaning and practice of civic participation in their respective communities. Also, immigrant leaders from other parts of the country who had successfully improved their communities’ civic capacity were invited to share their strategies with the group (2000-2001). After approximately one year, the group decided to continue to work together under the auspices of the Immigrant Empowerment Council. For two years after that, Community Science supported the Immigrant Empowerment Council by organizing its meetings and providing other logistical support. For two consecutive years, the Council organized forums that provided their community members opportunities to question local candidates running for office about their political agendas. The Council also organized, with Community Science’s support, a conference to promote the engagement of immigrant parents in their children’s schooling. (2001-2003)

Evaluation of the Washington Area Partnership for Immigrants (WAPI)

WAPI, a public/private funding collaborative led by The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, aimed to build the capacity of immigrant-led and/or immigrant-serving organizations in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area to better support their members and service recipients. Community Science was engaged by The Community Foundation to evaluate WAPI when it was conceived in 1998. We adjusted our evaluation every thereafter for five years as WAPI shifted its priority from promoting citizenship to increasing the accessibility of legal services to immigrants. (1998-2002)

Inquiry into the Civic Values, Traditions, and Practices of Immigrants

Building on the work funded initially by The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region and supplemented by additional funds from the Public Interest Project, Community Science interviewed immigrant leaders in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area as well as in other parts of the country about the meaning and practice of civic participation in their communities. The result of this effort was a report entitled An Inquiry into the Civic Values, Traditions, and Practices of Immigrants. (2002)

Evaluation of the Initiative to Strengthen Neighborhood Intergroup Assets

This initiative, sponsored by a funding collaborative led by the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation and established in 1998, aimed at building relations between immigrants and longtime residents in the Washington, DC metropolitan region. Community Science was engaged to evaluate the initiative. We developed a grantee reporting process where we interviewed each grantee director and worked with him/her to transform the interview into their progress and annual reports to the funding collaborative. These interviews provided the basis for our reports of the grantees’ accomplishments and what did and did not work in establishing intergroup relations. We also developed case studies of selected grantee projects. The Initiative led to the creation of the national Community Foundations/Intergroup Relations Program described next, and became one of the six communities involved in this national program. Community Science remained the Initiative’s evaluator until 2002. (2002)

A Study of Opportunities for Day Laborer-Resident Cooperation

Community Science provided assistance to the Fairfax County Department of Systems Management for Human Services to implement a community learning process to increase understanding of issues related to day labor. For one year, Community Science facilitated a learning circle designed to bring stakeholders together to discuss this issue. Stakeholders included, but were not limited to: day laborers, business people, community and civic leaders, service providers, and representatives from public agencies. Through facilitated discussions and an examination of pertinent research regarding promising strategies from other jurisdictions around the country and locally, the learning circle increased stakeholders' understanding of issues related to day labor and identified opportunities to utilize resources to strengthen the communities in which day laborers live and work. Based on the information, Community Science provided recommendations on how the county government and the community can best address day labor issues. (2001-2002)

Valuing Diversity: Building Better Communities Through Change

As mentioned before, this project preceded the Building Amidst Diversity project. The goal of this project was to enhance the capacity of the psychology profession to assist communities in addressing issues related to diversity. The project had three objectives: 1) to assemble a database of psychology literature and model programs that can assist communities in addressing issues related to diversity; 2) to assist two communities in the adoption and adaptation of model efforts to improve intergroup relations and to increase how diversity is valued; and 3) to disseminate the lessons learned and resources developed through this project to communities across the country, as well as to intermediary organizations, foundations, and government agencies whose mission is to assist communities in improving intergroup relations and promoting diversity. Community Science implemented the project on behalf of the American Psychological Association. Activities included: conducting research, facilitating workshops, helping communities adopt strategies, and conducting an evaluation of the project. (Go to the Valuing Diversity Project.) (2001)

Research on Issues Facing Immigrant Communities

Community Science gathered information for The Community Foundation for the National Capitol Region regarding the impact of 9/11 on immigrant communities in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. We also examined the capacities needed to strengthen immigrant communities in their ability to address identified issues. Community Science interviewed over 50 individuals and conducted seven focus groups in the region. (2001)

Building Diversity Initiative

The purpose of this project, sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, was to improve the quality and effectiveness of evaluation by expanding the racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity of the evaluation profession and by improving the capacity of evaluators to work across cultures. Community Science was instrumental in the Initiative’s inception and implementation. We convened an advisory committee to guide the effort; collected information on best practices utilized by foundations and government agencies to identify and use evaluators of color; found out about strategies used by professional associations to increase diversity among their members; and created a directory of evaluators of color and evaluators with cross-cultural competencies. (2001)

Community Foundations/Intergroup Relations Learning Process

The objective of this five-year learning process was to enable the national funders (Charles S. Mott and Ford Foundations) and community and local foundations participating in the program to support neighborhood projects to improve relations between recent immigrants and longtime residents in six metropolitan areas. It was established several months later after the establishment of the Initiative to Strengthen Neighborhood Intergroup Assets and built on the lessons learned from the Initiative. Community Science provided technical assistance, conference planning, and Web-based resources, and conducted the evaluation of these efforts. We produced several short reports and a documentary with an accompanying booklet about the role of community foundations in strengthening intergroup relations. (Go to the CF/IR Program.) (1998-2000)

Evaluation of the National Coalition Building Institute

The National Coalition Building engaged Community Science to examine the goals and achievements of 20 chapters and to document how chapters went about effecting institutional change. (1999-2001)

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