212430 Community-Owned and Managed Research (COMR): Policy recommendations for capacity building of community-based organizations to address health disparities and risks created by environmental hazards

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Omega Wilson, BA, MA, LUTCF , West End Revitalization Association - WERA, Member of U.S. EPA National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, Mebane, NC
WERA was organized in 1994 in order to address environmental health disparities in low-income communities of color in Mebane, NC. Through USEPA funding, WERA designed the community-owned and managed research (COMR) approach in order to document environmental hazards related to denial of public health infrastructure (safe sewer and drinking water services). COMR promotes community-based organizations (CBOs) with demonstrated organizational capacity to PI and project manager. COMR emphasizes the credibility and capacity of CBOs to develop, own, manage, foster, and sustain viable research agendas to address ongoing environmental hazards and related threats to health and quality of life. As the PI of research activities, WERA implemented quality assurance and control procedures, submitted community research protocols for institutional review, and retained data ownership for action, activism, and problem solving. Solutions and installation of up-to-code infrastructure resulted with block grants and collaborative partnership with community residents, and local/state/federal government agencies, UNC-Chapel Hill's School of Public Health and Department of City and Regional Planning, the Haw River Assembly, and legal actions. Currently, WERA's President is contributing to the efforts of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) on the development of new policy recommendations. These recommendations focus on the inclusion of WERA's COMR principles in environmental policy in order to build robust capacity for community-driven research: funding equity, management parity, site-specific databases, and sustainable major grants from federal agencies.

In this presentation, we will discuss COMR principles and methods and on-going community-driven efforts to impact policy promulgation at the federal level.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe new policy recommendations at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council in support of robust empowerment of low-income and minority communities and Native American territories using the community-owned and managed research approach 2. Discuss how COMR’s basic principles can more effectively support community-based organizations’ research sustainability by implementing policy guideline for funding equity and management parity for grassroots principal investigators 3. Describe how to build site-specific databases that support research, data analysis, publication of results, and strategies for ground level solutions for community-based organizations’ efforts to reduce environmental hazards and risks that create environmental health disparities

Keywords: Environmental Justice, Community-Based Public Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I helped to developed the community-owned and managed research approach as President of the West End Revitalization association. I am Co-PI for a community-university environmental justice partnership grant between WERA and USC-Columbia funded by NIH/NIEHS. As a member of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, I am submitting new policy recommendations on the adoption of COMR principles into new EPA EJ policies. I have also presented at APHA previously.
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.