Building Capacity in Disadvantaged Communities: Development of the Community Advocacy and Leadership Program
- Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 9, Issue 1, Spring 2015
- pp. 113-127
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Background. Successful community groups have the capacity to mobilize community assets to address needs. Capacity-building education is integral to building competent communities.
Objectives. A community–university team developed and pilot tested an education program for community advocates from disadvantaged neighborhoods with high chronic disease burden.
Methods. The Community Advocacy and Leadership Program (CALP) included eight monthly workshops, a mini-grant opportunity, and technical assistance. A nominal group with community health practitioners, focus group with community advocates, and a literature search comprised a triangulated educational needs assessment. A participating pretest with 35 community health practitioners guided curriculum refinement. Seven representatives from three community groups in a medically underserved South Carolina county participated in pilot implementation and evaluation. Qualitative and quantitative data informed the process and impact evaluation.
Results. The mean knowledge score at 1 month after the program was 77% (range, 52%–96%). The mean score on post-program self-assessment of skills improvement was 3.8 out of a possible 4.0 (range, 3.6–4.0). Two groups submitted successful community mini-grant applications for playground improvements, and the third group successfully advocated for public funding of neighborhood park improvements. Participants reported favorable impressions and both personal and community benefits from participation.
Conclusions. A community–university partnership successfully conducted a local educational needs assessment and developed and pilot tested a capacity development program within a CBPR partnership. Successes, challenges, and lessons learned will guide program refinement, replication, and dissemination.