Community-based participatory research is a collaborative approach to research that brings together the university and community in the research process, recognizing the unique contributions and expertise of each partner. Through partnerships among academic institutions, community organizations and community residents, the goal of the research is to address community needs, improve health outcomes and reduce health disparities.
Engaging Richmond is a partnership between community members and VCU researchers. Since the project’s inception in 2011, the members of the Engaging Richmond team have used mixed-methods research to explore the social and environmental factors that influence health.
Identifying Community Priorities
The Engaging Richmond team identified the following community priorities from focus group information gathered in 2012. The focus group was comprised of approximately 195 participants including men, women, parents, caregivers, elderly, homeless, employed, unemployed, residents and service providers:
- Workforce development
- Parental involvement
- Mental well-being
The team of community-resident researchers developed targeted dissemination strategies based on these community-identified priorities to bring evidence to policymakers and change agents.
Since 2011, Engaging Richmond has worked on other projects, including:
- Northside parental engagement study
- Cost of firearms violence
- Bringing best practices to housing redevelopment
- Informed Neighbors Corps
- Strengthening Early Childhood Education in Richmond
- Richmond Health Equity Report
- Community Conversations
- Volunteerism in the East End
Community Research Connector
To improve efforts to connect the community and researchers at VCU, the Community Research Connector will coordinate key activities to facilitate the process, provide access to relevant research and health information, ensure research studies are relevant to community needs and participate in tracking research studies and engagement efforts in the region.
Key activities of the Community Research Connector include:
- Community Review Board: Based on a process developed at Vanderbilt University, VCU offers a Community Review Board to provide guidance to community partners and researchers at any stage of their research process.
- Tracking and documentation: VCU prospectively and systematically identifies all community-engaged research projects as part of the grant submission and Institutional Review Board application process. The research connector will support university efforts to track community-engaged research projects in a more robust process.
- Training and professional development: VCU will continue to support numerous student and faculty training and professional development opportunities including an annual Community Engaged Research Mini Institute, Community Engaged Research Faculty Learning Community, Community Engaged Research Interest Group and a Community Engaged Research -focused lunch and learn lecture series.