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Summary of Small Grant Program Awardees

Small Grants Awards were made to the following seven teams in January, 2002 (Abstracts of the proposals are attached):

Jennifer Rudkin, University of Colorado at Denver, School of Education
"Visual and Narrative Portrayal as a Measure of Social Capital"
Denver, Colorado
$50,000

Mark Joseph, Community Development Associates
"Field Experiment to Measure Block Level Capacity"
Chicago, Illinois
$50,000

Peter Kreiner, Health and Addictions Research
Community-Based Non-profit Resource Information Networks
Massachusetts (Several urban neighborhoods will be targeted)
$50,000

Caterina Gouvuis, Urban Institute, Justice Policy Center
"Measuring Community Institutional Capacity"
Washington, D.C.
$100,000

Kevin Allison and Catherine Howard, Virginia Commonwealth University
"Community Social Capital: Using Networks and Technology to Build Community Capacity"
Richmond, Virginia
$100,000

Robert Goerge, Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago
"Developing Measures of Social Capital and Community Capacity for Use by Community Based Organizations"
Chicago, Illinois
$100,000

America Bracho, Lyndee Knox and Sid Gardner
Latino Health Access, University of Southern California Department of Family Medicine, and Nunn Consulting
"Measuring Social Capital as a Predictor of Community Readiness to Take Action"
Santa Ana, California
$100,000

Jennifer Rudkin, University of Colorado at Denver, School of Education
"Visual and Narrative Portrayal as a Measure of Social Capital"
Denver, Colorado
$50,000


Objective: Visual-narrative portrayals will be used to capture examples of social capital in low-income urban neighborhoods in Denver. These portrayals will be used to create a visual community portrait based on the lived experience of community 'insiders,' in this case youth. The proposed project uses photography as a means of both assessing and building social capital. For this project, social capital is defined as youth's relationships to community members and to community institutions and systems that enable rather than hinder youth development and quality of life.

Method: The first phase of the project involves a group of youth selected to be "community experts." These youth will participate in training sessions designed to introduce them to the concept of social capital and to teach them the basic principles of photography. Youth will then be given cameras and will be instructed to use them to photograph activities and settings that best reflect social capital in their neighborhoods. After a few opportunities to review and critique each other's photos, youth will select the photographs they believe best convey important aspects of their neighborhoods. Youth will then rate each photograph on two dimensions that will be used to create a "score" for each photograph.

The second phase of the project involves a wider group of community members in community-youth exchanges. Two forums will be organized to allow youth to participate in community exchanges and utilize the research results. First, youth working in teams of two or three will facilitate focus group discussions of the selected photographs. The second forum will be a community art show that will give youth photographers the opportunity to display their photographs and present research results.

Community Partnership: The Greater Park Hill Community, Inc. (GPHC) is the community partner for this project. They will provide space and GPHC volunteers will help recruit youth, run youth workshops, organize focus groups, and host the art show. As a result, GPHC members will learn how to conduct an action research project and may assume future responsibility for refining this measure, perhaps using autophotography to assess perceptions of groups other than youth.

Product: This project will produce a "how to" manual that will describe how other researchers can use visual-narrative procedures to document social capital. This manual will address: (1) requirements in terms of person power and funds; (2) strategies for recruiting youth participants; (3) training for project staff and for youth photographers; (4) techniques for facilitating focus groups; and (5) ways to organize culminating events (e.g., community art show)

Mark Joseph, Community Development Associates
"Field Experiment to Measure Block Level Capacity"
Chicago, Illinois
$50,000


Objective: The purpose of this project is to design simple field experiments that can be used to test levels of capacity on a particular neighborhood block. The key to this measurement strategy is creating a situation that compels block residents to attempt to act collectively for a particular common purpose and then examining the nature of their response.

Method: Observational analysis of the response of block residents to the staged intervention will be guided by a protocol that captures several dimensions of community capacity: sense of community, commitment, ability to solve problems, and access to resources. Six different neighborhood blocks in Chicago will be used as the sites of the pilot test. The researchers will attempt to examine blocks where there is an active block club association as well as blocks where there is not an active group.

Community Partnership: The North Lawndale Small Grants Initiative (SGI) is the community partner for this project. SGI is a 100 percent resident-led initiative established in 1996 to build community capacity and improve the quality of life in North Lawndale. SGI staff and board will provide advisory oversight to the project, providing suggestions and critiques based on periodic reports. A subcommittee of staff and board will also be directly involved with CDA researchers in the design and pilot testing of the field experiment.

The Product: The product of this work will be a "how-to" guide with an accompanying case study. The how to guide will provide full instructions on either how to implement the experiment. Accompanying the guide will be the observational protocol, other recommendations about the role of the community partner and the role of residents as field researchers, and a case study that provides the details of our pilot test experience.

Peter Kreiner, Health and Addictions Research
Community-Based Non-profit Resource Information Networks
Massachusetts (Several urban neighborhoods will be targeted)
$50,000


Objective: The goal of this project is to develop a method for documenting inter-organizational networks that are understood to be an important aspect of community capacity. Given the difficulty and expense of documenting network linkages among community organizations, this project will develop proxy measures of inter-organizational network linkages based on widely available data from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Method: Proxy measures of inter-organizational linkages will be developed using the non-profit activity data that all U.S. non-profits are required to report to the IRS regarding their name and address, asset amount, number and type of activities conducted in the past year, and organization type. In any given locale, organizations of the same type conducting activities in the same or closely linked IRS category are assumed to exchange information and/or resources, representing an inter-organizational network linkage. Based on this assumption, an imputed network of linkages will be created for non-profits in Massachusetts. This data will be validated in targeted urban neighborhoods through interviews with key informants in each community. These interviews will be conducted to provide a picture of the organizational interactions within the community and the possible limitations of the IRS database.

Community Partners: The community partners (community based health services providers) will be actively involved in identifying key informants and conducting interviews with non-profits in each targeted neighborhood. The partners will also be involved in interpreting the data that results from the pilot test.

Products: Two types products will result from this work. The first will be a database of measures of community capacity for Massachusetts Zip Code Areas and a technical appendix that explains how they were computed and how they can be used. This data can be tabulated for other states as requested. The second product will be a series of journal articles and reports that will describe how to compute the measures, manipulate the IRS database, and what was learned about the accuracy of creating measures from the IRS database and the appropriateness of using IRS data for community level measures.

Caterina Gouvuis, Urban Institute, Justice Policy Center
"Measuring Community Institutional Capacity"
Washington, D.C.
$100,000


Objective: The Urban Institute (UI) in partnership with the District of Columbia Neighborhood Services Initiative and two neighborhood organizations will develop and validate a strategy for measuring community institutional capacity and its role as a key component of social capital. A key assumption underlying this work is that a neighborhood's institutional level of social organization is a determinant of a neighborhood's level of collective efficacy, in that the presence, density, characteristics of location of and relationships among institutions/organizations will predict levels of collective efficacy. The goal of this project, therefore is to identify indicators of community institutional capacity at the community level that are: (1) correlated with collective efficacy, attachment to place, and confidence about the future of the neighborhood, but (2) can be collected by residents or community groups repeatedly over time with far less expense than a resident survey.

Method: Three types of data will comprise the database: (1) presence of institutions and organizations; (2) the basic characteristics of those organizations; and (3) the extent of bridging and resource leveraging among institutions. Data collection will involve four approaches: (1) collection of secondary data; (2) observation of local institutions and organizations; (3) telephone interviews with organizations; and (4) a resident survey.

Community Partnership: Researchers at UI will work in partnership with three local organizations: The D.C. Neighborhood Action Team, The Enterprise Foundation, and The East of the River Clergy and Police Community Partnership. These partners will play a role as project advisors, ensuring the lasting utility of the measure of community institutional capacity. Partners will also be involved in recruiting and training the residents who will conduct interviews and organizational observations.

Product: The main product of this work will be an ACCESS database on institutions/organizations containing the selected set of characteristics that were found through the analysis and validation to be central components of institutional capacity. There will be an instructional manual providing step-by-step instructions about using the database, extracting new information, and entering new data.

Kevin Allison and Catherine Howard, Virginia Commonwealth University
"Community Social Capital: Using Networks and Technology to Build Community Capacity"
Richmond, Virginia
$100,000

Objective: The goal of this project is to assess social capital at the community level of analysis. In contrast to previous studies of social capital, this project hopes to examine social capital as it relates to specific domains (such as health care or children's resources); examine distinctions between "real" and "apparent" social capital; physically locate community social capital and interpret community resources through supports and barriers to their utilization; and attempt to examine the processes through which community social capital is translated into community processes that support adaptive functioning, change and growth for individual communities.

Methods: Two strategies will be used to document and assess community social capital. The first strategy will involve mapping the networks of community affiliation and resource exchange among residents, community organizations and government/human service agencies at the neighborhood level. The second strategy will involve documenting the social and physical characteristics of the neighborhoods through photography.

Community Participation: A key value underlying this work is the need to "democratize data" so that community members as well as researchers find it valuable. To this end, the community partners-which include the local Civic Improvement League, the local LISC, and three other community based organizations-will be integrally involved in developing and presenting reports of the project's data to local residents and civic groups; will engage in a process to use project data to further clarify community needs and priorities; and will articulate change strategies and self-assessments of community readiness. This process will be documented, and will serve as a third index of community social capital.

The Product: The main product of this work will be a community social capital survey formatted for use with a PDA (e.g., Palm Pilot). Training materials and computer software will be developed to support the use of this instrument. The partnership will also develop a web-based community information resource that provides a public archive of the social capital maps of the targeted neighborhoods. There will also be a manual that describes the process of "democratizing data" to guide others who are interested in this type of action research.

Robert Goerge, Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago
"Developing Measures of Social Capital and Community Capacity for Use by Community Based Organizations"
Chicago, Illinois
$100,000


Objective: The intent of this project is to test a set of measures and develop a set of approaches that will provide community organizations and residents with practical options for measuring various dimensions of social capital and community capacity. In order to provide the best measure of community capacity within the limits of the current budget and the broader limits of what community organizations can collect in the course of their work, two dimensions of social capital-interpersonal ties and collective efficacy-and two dimensions of community capacity-organizational infrastructure and access to resources-will be the focus of this measurement development effort.

Methods: There are two goals for this project, and consequently, two stages in the development and testing phase of this work. The first stage of work focuses on measures and seeks to understand what available survey items can be good measures of social capital and community capacity, as well as for context and resident characteristics. One of the key activities in this first phase of work will involve analyzing the Community Survey Data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN), which is a state-of-the-art survey of neighborhood residents' perceptions of the social characteristics of their neighborhoods. This data will provide measures of collective efficacy and interpersonal ties for the neighborhood clusters that correspond to the target communities for this pilot study. Additional measures from other sources will also be used during this phase.

The second phase of the project will focus on developing and testing a process whereby community organizations can collect data on social capital and community capacity in the course of other data collection activities or through distinct, low-cost efforts using resources within their own communities. Using a wide variety of data from the United Way, Census, human services, education, vital statistics, employment, justice and housing sources (all of which Chapin Hall has in-house and already coded and cleaned), measures of social capital and community capacity will be created and compared to the survey data to determine which, if any, provide low-cost proxies that are robust and valid measures. In addition to the analysis of these administrative data, researchers will also analyze data from the Chicago Department of Human Services Youth Mapping Initiative to determine how well the administrative proxies correlate to youth-defined measures of social capital and community capacity.

Community Partners: Three organizations will partner with Chapin Hall researchers on this project: The Southwest Youth Collaborative, Sinai Community Institute and the City of Chicago Department of Human Services. These partners will play a critical role in the project in three respects: as consultants in the design of the work; in providing mechanisms for data collection; and as consumers and evaluators of the findings and process.

Products: Six key projects will result from this work: (1) a report on the production of proxy measures from available data and their relevance for understanding social capital and community capacity in different communities; (2) a survey instrument that can be adapted by other community organizations; (3) documentation to assist in the administration of the survey; (4) a structured database tailored to the community survey instrument; (5) a set of guidelines for approaching holders of administrative data to facilitate gaining access to such information; and (6) a paper on the measures and methods used and the lessons learned through the project, including those concerning researcher-community partnerships.

America Bracho, Lyndee Knox and Sid Gardner
Latino Health Access, University of Southern California Department of Family Medicine, and Nunn Consulting
"Measuring Social Capital as a Predictor of Community Readiness to Take Action"
Santa Ana, California
$100,000


Objective: This project will create a tool that can be used to determine whether a community is ready to engage in collective action for social change. The tool will enable community based organizations to determine when community investment is enough to ignite action, or what types of additional investment, such as skill development or social network expansion, may be needed before action can occur.

Methods: LHA will develop a modified approach to social network analysis that will generate standard information on a community's opinion leaders, their connections to social change organizations, and the diversity of their social networks. Data on a number of related concepts will also be collected for each opinion leader, including his/her level of participation in his or her community and in community change activities; his or her feeling of belongingness and willingness to act in response to community concerns; and skills and personal assets he or she has available to contribute to community action. These data will be collected through in-person surveys, entered into a database and aggregated to produce a community profile of social capital and overall readiness for change. GIS maps of community readiness will be prepared so that community groups can visually represent how social capital is distributed in their communities.

Community Partner: Latino Health Access (LHA) a multi-service, non-profit, community based organization in Santa Ana, California is the lead agency in this project. LHA brings eight years of community mobilizing experience and three years of experience managing a CCI to this project. Thirty-eight highly trained and established LHA Community Health Workers will collect data, while research partners from USC and Nunn Consulting will conduct GIS mapping and social network analysis.

Product: The survey developed by LHA and its partners will be prepared in English and Spanish. The survey will be accompanied by a training manual and software that CBOs can use to enter data and perform data analysis.


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