New project harnesses community expertise

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Sixteen people with expertise in community organization, advocacy, health and research  from across North Carolina have joined a new research project aimed at increasing capacity among university and community partners to collaborate in community-based participatory research.

The project, Community Leadership and Reciprocal Development to Advance Community-Engaged Research is a 2-year pilot study funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that is being conducted in collaboration with Vanderbilt University. Both universities proposed to accelerate and enhance community engagement in research by harnessing the considerable expertise that exists in communities to guide research. At UNC, the project is a partnership between the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP) and the NC Translational and Clinical Sciences (TraCS) Institute, academic home of the NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA).

“We have so many community leaders who have years of experience working as research partners with universities,” said Wanda Hunter, principal investigator for the project, “often with very little financial remuneration for themselves or their organizations. With this project we aim to recognize this expertise by engaging these experts as leaders in our capacity-building effort and compensating them fairly for their valuable time.”

The project will provide training and technical assistance to academic and community partners who wish to advance their skills in community-based participatory research, including principles of power sharing and co-ownership of the products and processes of the research.

The sixteen community experts were chosen from a large field of applicants. “We were heartened by the number of strong applications for this pool of experts and sorry that we couldn’t choose more!” said Christina Hardy, herself a community expert from Greensboro, chosen as the project’s Community Research Fellow.  In keeping with the project’s aims, Hardy was hired to co-lead all project activities.

The community experts selected for the project include: David Caldwell, project director for Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association in Chapel Hill; Nettie Coad, executive director of the Partnership Project in Greensboro;  Barbara Council, member of the Community Enrichment Organization in Tarboro; Rev. Danny Ellis, Executive Director of Together Transforming Lives in Halifax County; Arlinda Ellison, Physicians Pharmacy Alliance and Project Grace Consortium in Rocky Mount; Barbara Harris, Seeds of HOPE Community Action Council; Melvin Jackson, Strengthening the Black Family, Raleigh; Nora Jones, Partnership Project, Greensboro; Rev. William Kearney, associate pastor for the Coley Springs Missionary Baptist Church and faith and health facilitator for the United Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church Association; Mac Legerton, Executive Director for the Center for Community Action in Robeson County; Tony Locklear, Executive Director for the Native American Interfaith Ministries in Robeson County; Melvin Muhammad, Community Outreach Coordinator for the Ryan White Program in Nash, Edgecombe, Wilson, Halifax, and Northampton counties; Naeema Muhammad, community organizer with Concerned Citizens of Tillery and the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network; Donald Parker, Project Momentum in Edgecombe County; Chanetta Washington, Community Advisory Board for UNC-CH Center for AIDS Research; and Mysha Wynn, Executive Director of Project Momentum in Edgecombe County.
Community Experts
The community experts met for the first time at a project orientation in Chapel Hill on April 14th.  Naeema Muhammad, a long-time community organizer who has partnered with UNC on several projects, said she was happy to be part of the group and eager to get started on the project’s work.

“I’m excited about helping communities to get into CBPR,” said Muhammad. “I want to help them identify their strengths and understand what they bring to the table for a research project.”

To see a slideshow of the day’s events, please click here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/43383595@N06/sets/72157623730960525/show/

 

 

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