During the initial funding period, the objectives of the Community Engagement Core (CEC) were: 1) to improve health of the populations at high risk for health disparities via dissemination of health information and community based health advocacy;2) to develop a new generation of healthcare providers and healthcare researchers who will focus on health disparities;and 3) to provide evidence of the effectiveness of strategies for community engagement in order to understand both process and outcome in building a community based outreach program. The CEC continues to pursue these objectives, extending them to reflect suggestions that have been made by members of the community. The CEC will: Increase awareness of health disparities and engage the community in advocacy for health equity;Continue to develop a new generation of healthcare providers and researchers while engaging them in intergenerational strategies to create a greater presence in communities;Monitor effectiveness of outreach strategies in order to maintain relevance to community health priorities. We will continue to provide training and support for activities of an intergenerational network of Community Health Advocates (CHAs) and Youth Community Health Advocates (YCHAs) and a Pre-professional Pathway Program (P^) to encourage interested CHAs to pursue jobs and careers in health care and health research. The CEC and Research Core will collaborate on semi-annual symposia to deliver health information and research results to the community. In alternating years, the CEC will present CHA-led health summits targeting specific age groups (i.e., teens or seniors) or health concerns (i.e., obesity, health advocacy, health literacy) identified by CBPR. The Pipeline program will expand to provide youth from 3rd grade through high school with training and opportunities for volunteer health advocacy. The goal of the Pipeline module is to academically prepare students and provide guidance to maintain interest levels through transitions to entry into the desired health professions fields. Evaluation of community-based programs is an essential function of the CEC. Real-time data entry by CHA's in the community using applications for android tablets, an incentivized online health education curriculum, and other technological innovations will document the networks through which health information reaches the target communities and informs community health advocacy. Evaluation strategies include pre/post testing for all activities in the CHA, YCHA, P3, and Pipeline programs, reflections, discussions, and meeting notes to provide qualitafive data, and process and outcome analyses.
The Community Engagement Core (CEC) is the primary unit to connect the Center of Excellence with the community. In collaboration with the Research Core, the CEC disseminates research findings, provides research apprentices, and presents semi-annual symposia on health disparities/health advocacy. The Pipeline sends graduates into the Training Core. The intergenerafional CHA/YCHA network uses CBPR strategies to deliver health informafion and engage the community in research, educafion, and advocacy.
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