In our work with Cleveland's community organizations, we have found that most organizations have minimal or nonexistent capacity for research and evaluation. This minimal capacity for research and evaluation results in at least two problems. First, community organizations are not able to develop and maintain equitable bilateral partnerships with academic researchers to conduct community-based research projects. Second, organizations are limited in their ability to independently carry out many activities that are critical for their own success, such as performance of rigorous needs assessments, systematic identification of best practices, modification of pre-existing programs, development of new programs, obtaining competitive funding, and careful evaluation of program outcomes. We propose to combine potent aspects of navigators and practice-based research networks to more effectively connect Cleveland's communities and academic researchers in a manner that increases (a) community capacity for research and evaluation and (b) researchers'understanding of community perspectives. Specifically, we propose to train members of community organizations in research and evaluation skills. Training for these individuals (referred to as Community Research Navigators) will consist of course work, seminars, and a mentored research or evaluation project. We also propose to establish a network of community organizations that will conduct joint research or evaluation projects by pooling their time, resources, and expertise. This Community Based Research/Evaluation Network (CBRN) will also provide advising and support to the Community Research Navigators. Enhancing community research and evaluation skills has the potential to increase community understanding, trust, and involvement in research and evaluation activities. The proposed project may also serve as a model for dissemination of other skills to communities and community organizations.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)
Comprehensive Center (P60)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZMD1-RN (02))
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Case Western Reserve University
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