Seeds of HOPE is the core demonstration research project of the UNC Center for HPDP. The project will implement and evaluate the dissemination of HOPE Works, an obesity prevention and empowerment program for low income, ethnically diverse women in rural eastern NC.

Project Objectives

  • Aim 1: Collect formative and process data from local stakeholders to inform any modifications to recruitment approaches and delivery of the intervention.
  • Aim 2: Use Qualitative Comparative Analyses (QCA) or similar method to determine what “recipes” facilitate successful adoption and implementation of HOPE Circles among the intended audience (low-income, rural women).
    • Evaluate the effect of Seeds of HOPE, when disseminated to a broader and more diverse group of participants, on primary outcome measures of weight loss and hope among participating women.
    • Evaluate secondary outcomes including health behaviors (fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity), psychosocial factors (self-efficacy, positive affect, depressive symptoms, social support, social capital), and socioeconomic factors (education, income, employment, micro-business participation) among participating women.
    • Assess implementation and process factors associated with dissemination at the organization and community levels using elements of the RE-AIM framework, evaluating intervention reach, adoption, implementation, and maintenance.
  • Aim 3: Use results of Aim 2 to plan for broader dissemination and sustainability including web-based tools and implementation assistance.
    • Work with the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention’s Center of Excellence for Training and Research Translation (Center TRT) to disseminate Seeds of HOPE tested products and strategies to other NC counties, state health departments and Prevention Research Centers.

Project Description

Obesity and poor health exist in the context of social and economic determinants. Evidence-based strategies based on community participatory methods are urgently needed to combat serious health issues. The purpose of Seeds of HOPE (Health, Opportunities, Partnerships, Empowerment) is to implement and evaluate the dissemination of HOPE Works, an innovative weight management and economic development program designed for low-income women in rural eastern North Carolina. The conceptual framework for HOPE Works, based on the CDC’s Guide to Community Health, recognizes the complex and multi-factorial context of social, environmental, and economic factors that influence health issues such as obesity.

Seeds of HOPE builds on the work of our previous core project, HOPE Works, and another recent project, HOPE Accounts for Women . The intervention is grounded in community based participatory research (CBPR) and uses an adaptation of a third world development model, the Grameen Bank Model of Muhammad Yunus. This model blends a system of mutually supportive financial literacy education with meetings of women to foster collaborative goal setting and support addressing both economic and health-related problems. Women participating in the intervention meet in small peer groups, called “Circles,” for at least six months to discuss important issues and engage in physical activity together. In this case, the health goals of healthy eating, physical activity, and weight management are addressed in combination with the participants’ “hope” goals such as furthering education, job skills training, financial literacy, and starting businesses. The circle concept also builds on the American Indian tradition of Talking Circles, still used by many tribes to encourage “speaking and listening from the heart.”


Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Dates of funding: September 2009-September 2014

Key Contacts

Principal Investigator: Lori Carter-Edwards, PhD
Project Director: Kate Blackman, MSW, MPH
Project Manager: Katie Barnes



Campbell MK, Benedict S, Gizlice Z, Kelsey K, Barnes K, Ries A, DeVellis B, Harris, B. HOPE Works: A community-based obesity intervention addressing social determinants as underlying factors. J Community Med Health Educ. 2012;2(6):1-7.

Benedict S, Campbell M, Doolen A, Rivera I, Negussie T, Turner-McGrievy G. Seeds of HOPE: A Model for Addressing Social and Economic Determinants of Health in a Women’s Obesity Prevention Project in Two Rural Communities. J Womens Health (Larchmt). Oct 2007;16(8):1117-1124.