Communities Acting for Kids Empowerment (CAKE)

Communities Acting for Kids Empowerment (CAKE)

BY FARRAH JACQUEZ, JAMIE-LEE MORRIS, & MICHAEL TOPMILLER

In September 2016, UC Psychology department faculty member Farrah Jacquez, New Prospect Baptist Church community organizer Jamie-Lee Morris, and American Academy of Family Physicians geographer Michael Topmiller were chosen as Interdisciplinary Research Leaders (IRL) by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The IRL program brings together two researchers and a community partner to use the power of applied research—informing and supporting critical work being done in communities—to accelerate that work and advance health and equity. The team proposed research called “A Place-based Approach to Early Childhood Wellness in Carthage and Roselawn”, a project designed to organize community members in two Cincinnati neighborhoods to promote the well-being of young children.

The CAKE Leadership Team (Back row Michael Topmiller, Farrah Jacquez, Crystal Davis, Alexander Shelton; front row Cindy Wooten, Lakisha Best, Jamie-Lee Morris, Shanah Cole, Monica Arenas-Losacker). Not pictured are Alan Dicken and Giovanna Alvarez.

Over the past year, The IRL program has facilitated the formation of Communities Acting for Kids Empowerment (CAKE), a team of early childhood stakeholders in the neighborhoods of Carthage and Roselawn.

CAKE has three primary aims to be accomplished over the next two years:
• Create a network of engaged community members, education providers, and stakeholders ready for action
• Develop a multi-level intervention with systematic input from across community sectors and with shared decision-making of Leadership Team
• Increase awareness of the value of preschool and preschool options available in Carthage and Roselawn

We plan to do this by:
• Creating a team of community members to collaborate with us on the research
• Using research to improve the health of young children
• Focusing our place-based approach on the communities of Carthage & Roselawn
• Focusing on approaches that address the multiple levels that influence a child’s life: individual, family, school, community
• Identifying the assets that already exist in Carthage and Roselawn and create ways to build on them

To begin our work, we first needed to find out what the people who live and work in Carthage and Roselawn see as the most important factors in the health and wellness of young kids living in their neighborhoods.

Photo from GLA

We conducted four participatory focus groups called Group Level Assessments with four diverse groups of stakeholders: members of New Prospect Baptist Church, members of San Carlos Catholic Church, members of Carthage Neighborhood Council, and Type B Childcare Providers. Through these four GLAs, we were able to talk with almost 100 community members from diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise.

Photo from GLA

Based on the GLAs, we have started to identify the factors that Carthage and Roselawn residents believe are the most important in the lives of young children. Participants identified important drivers at the family, school, and community levels as being critical to the wellness of young kids. Several ideas emerged as ways to promote early childhood wellness, including supporting parent involvement in children’s lives and providing safe, high quality places for children’s activities.

For our next steps, will be interviewing up to thirty school stakeholders to help understand the educational context for preschoolers living in Carthage and Roselawn. By identifying the educational assets that currently exist in the neighborhoods, we hope to move toward building an intervention that builds on existing resources to provide the best possible environment for happy, healthy young kids.

If you’re interested in learning more about CAKE, keeping up with our progress, or getting involved, go to our Facebook page or email us at cakecincinnati@gmail.com.

jmalatCommunities Acting for Kids Empowerment (CAKE)
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2017-2018 TCP Scholars

2017-2018 TCP Scholars

We are pleased to have another great cohort of TCP Scholars. The Scholars are a funded group of researchers who are working on projects that directly benefit disadvantaged people in Cincinnati. We are fortunate to have funding support from the Wilder Foundation and the College of Arts and Sciences to support this year’s scholars.

The 2017-2018 class is working on a range of projects that represent TCP well. Two projects are partnered with non-profit organizations that provide key services to people experiencing difficult periods in their lives. UpSpring supports homeless families and will provide needed medical services to homeless children, based on the research of Professor Kloos and her students. LifeLawn is a landscaping company that seeks to provide positive and resume-building employment to people who might otherwise have difficulty getting a job. Professor Furst-Holloway and her students are gathering data in order to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of their programs.

Professor Sastry’s research project is of a different sort. Like some other TPC researchers, his project begins by locating communities that are hidden from outsiders. Often these communities face obstacles to achieving maximum well-being. The Cincinnati Project is pleased to offer support to Professors Sastry’s effort to learn more about disenfranchised South Asians’ health challenges by talking to South Asians themselves. His research will begin partnerships that can meaningfully improve people’s health.

Learn more about this class of TCP Scholars here. We are glad to have grants from the Wilder Foundation and the Colleges of Arts and Sciences to support their research!

jmalat2017-2018 TCP Scholars
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Building Connections on Campus

Building Connections on Campus

A couple weeks ago, we co-hosted an energizing workshop on community-partnered research for faculty across the university. The event grew out of a chat with the co-directors of the Center for Race, Gender and Social Justice at the College of Law.

Janet Moore, Farrah Jacquez, and Edie Morris take questions from the audience.

We noticed that faculty who partner with communities are passionate about their work, but the size of campus and time spent in the field make it difficult for them to meet each other. Faculty who know each other can share opportunities, support each other, and produce more research with a stronger impact.

We decided to organize an event that would help people get to know each other. We structured the day so that there would be many opportunities for sharing successes and strategies for confronting challenges. We also hoped students would attend the event in order to learn more about community-partnered research.

Discussion with all attendees at the end of the day.

Our efforts were successful! Approximately 45 faculty, staff, undergraduate, and graduate/professional students gathered throughout the day at the African American Cultural and Resource Center. We listened to experienced researchers talk about their work, shared lunch, and exchanged ideas in a large group. We left having met new people, with plans to stay in touch, and agreeing that we need to meet again!

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Partnering with the Black United Front on the Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement

Partnering with the Black United Front on the Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement

By Shaonta’ Allen, second year doctoral student in Sociology, graduate assistant, Yates Fellow, and Southern Regional Education Board Scholar

Through The Cincinnati Project,  I’ve had the opportunity to work with the Black United Front, a local organization committed to bettering community police relations in Cincinnati, on a research project aimed at refreshing the Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement. This anti-bias policing agreement was signed by the city, the police department, and community leaders in the wake of the 2001 civil unrest that culminated out of a police officer’s fatal shooting of an unarmed African-American man. City leaders are making a public pledge to review the Collaborative Agreement, as it was the basis of the previous decade’s police reforms.

We worked together to create a survey that would capture community members’ perspectives of policing. I assisted with the data collection process as well as with data analysis and reporting. In addition to making the survey available online, I, along with a few other team members, attended popular community events throughout the city, such as the Cincinnati Music Festival and the Black Family Reunion, in the hopes of recruiting respondents in person. Altogether we received over 1200 responses in a just a 3-month time-period! I worked with University of Cincinnati Political Science Professor Brian Calfano to analyze the data that was reported which was later converted into a comprehensive report over 125 pages long.

The Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement’s booth at the Black Family Reunion where community members could stop by and take the survey

It was very exciting to be a part of this research project because the community’s voice is often overlooked when it comes to discussions of policing, yet in a short amount of time I was able to work with a team that collected a ton of data that captured just that! I was also able to  present some of our data at a public forum attended by not only community members but also several police-officers. This was particularly rewarding because, in a way, I was able to link the community’s comments and suggestions about policing directly back to the individuals who could implement the changes that they proposed.

As a sociologist interested in race relations and social justice, I’ve always believed that the research I conduct should have direct implications on the betterment of my community. Working on this survey regarding the Collaborative Agreement has reinforced this belief.

 

The Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement Research Team posing for a quick picture at the Cincinnati Music Festival

I have been able to see first-hand how vital it is for our stories to be told from our own perspectives, and I have witnessed the negative implications of what happens when we are not in positions to advocate for ourselves.

“This collaboration has helped make me a better scholar”

Working on this project has assisted with the development of my quantitative research skills. I’ve tailored most of my academic methodological training towards qualitative skills. However, working with Professor Calfano on analyzing the survey data pushed me out of my comfort zone, and has helped make me a better scholar.

Presenting the findings at a community meeting.

Presenting this data at the community forum equipped me with the skills to present data in non-academic settings. As a graduate student I attend several academic conferences a year and as a result, I have experience giving academic talks. However, given my commitment to ensuring my research is accessible to my community, knowing how to discuss research results in layman’s terms is an essential skill which I now have thanks to this collaboration!

Overall, I’m thankful for this opportunity and excited to continue working with these community organizations. We already have plans to present our data at another community forum and are additionally in the early stages of writing a research article together. This all serves as an indication of the significance of collaborative work between community partners and university research scholars.

jmalatPartnering with the Black United Front on the Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement
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Working Together to Refresh the Collaborative Agreement

Working Together to Refresh the Collaborative Agreement

By Brian Robert Calfano, Ph.D.

Working with Iris Roley and Al Gerhardstein has been a meaningful learning experience for me, and I can certainly say that I have learned far more about Cincinnati from the viewpoint of these pivotal stakeholders than I would have initially imagined.

I was approached in early summer 2017 to lead a survey project that would assess community impressions of the Collaborative Agreement, community/police relations, and citizen familiarity with complaint processes put in place since the agreement went into effect in 2002. Both Iris and Al were heavily involved in helping to determine the questions and topics featured in the survey, and Iris was especially instrumental in working to ensure that community members were made aware of the survey’s purpose as part of the larger goal of determining the nature of a collaborative “refresh”.

Data collection ran from June to September, with analysis beginning in mid-September in anticipation of presenting the findings at the city’s first community forum on the collaborative refresh (set for the 25th). Working with Shaonta Allen, a University of Cincinnati graduate in sociology, Iris, Al, and I collaborated daily (sometimes multiple times a day) during the analysis and report write-up period to determine the best ways to communicate the findings and insights to the broadest possible audience.

Throughout the process, I was often reminded through Iris and Al’s abiding concern for the prospect of social justice in Cincinnati that the purpose of my effort was not simply to capture accurately the views of the over 1200 community members who participated in the survey research, but to enlighten and inspire the collective discussion about the Collaborative Agreement’s future in securing a truly just city for all its residents.

jmalatWorking Together to Refresh the Collaborative Agreement
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Community-Partnered Research Workshop

Community-Partnered Research Workshop

Are you interested in learning from faculty who regularly conduct community-partnered research? Would you like to meet others at the University of Cincinnati who are interested in research that helps Cincinnati communities? We are pleased to be partnering with the Center for Race, Gender and Social Justice at the College of Law to host, “Community-Partnered Research: How to do it and why it matters” from 10am-2:30pm on October 27, 2017 at the African American Cultural and Resource Center. The event will include presentations from experienced researchers in the morning and opportunities for networking and exchanging ideas in the afternoon. Check out the flyer for the event by clicking here. If you plan to attend, please RSVP here.

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