187055 Expanding the capacity of community-based organizations to address health disparities through service learning partnerships with academic public health institutions

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Anita Hawkins, PHD , School of Community Health and Policy, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD
Lorece Edwards, DrPH , School of Community Health and Policy, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD
Kim Lisbeth Dobson Sydnor, PhD , School of Community Health and Policy, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD
Issue: Community-based organizations which serve the marginalized and most disenfranchised populations are frequently without adequate resources. Many have been so engaged in the provision of service to these various vulnerable populations with interventions that “feel” right and seem inherently “good” that very little time is allocated to adequately document their strategies and/or assess the effectiveness of their efforts. Program evaluation, inclusive of implementation fidelity, process and outcome assessments are often given lower priority when resources are limited and staff members are ill-equipped to carry out these vital tasks. In response, various federal and private foundation efforts have been made to build the capacity of these organizations with training and technical assistance. In spite of the capacity building initiatives, many valued community-based organizations still struggle. Longitudinal service learning partnerships between these community-based organizations and academic institutions provide the opportunity to both build and expand the capacity of community-based organizations engaged in efforts to address health disparities in our communities.

Project Description: This session will describe the practicum requirement for public health students structured as a service learning experience in community-based settings. As exemplars, the relationships built with several community organizations and the associated student service learning projects will be highlighted along with how these community linkages are evolving into longitudinal service learning partnerships, expanding the capacity of the resource-strapped organizations.

Lesson/Recommendation: The service learning practice experience may be most appropriate for public health education programs designed to prepare public health professionals as community engaged researchers, practioners and advocates.

Learning Objectives:
Participants will be able to Distinguish the service learning practice experience from a public health internship Describe the distinct and unique value of both the service learning practice experience and the traditional public health internship in the educational preparation of public health professionals Describe strategies for developing and structuring longitudinal service learning partnerships to expand the capacity of community based organizations

Keywords: Community-Based Public Health, Public Health Education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I serve as the primary faculty instructor for the internship/practice experience for public health students at Morgan. I am Co-investigator for the Health Disparities Service Learning Project a the School of Community Health and POlicy at Morgan State University.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.